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Nationals sign first overall pick Strasburg before deadline

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The Canadian Press
8/18/2009 12:35:16 AM
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NEW YORK - Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals agreed to a record contract just before Monday's midnight deadline, a four-year deal that will pay the hard-throwing right-hander slightly more than US$15.1 million.

The San Diego State pitcher was selected first by the last-place Nationals in June and set the mark for the most money guaranteed to a drafted player. That's been held since 2001 by pitcher Mark Prior, who received a $10.5-million, five-year contract after he was selected with the second pick, behind Joe Mauer.

"He's chomping at the bit to get out on the mound. He's ultra-, ultra-competitive," acting Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said, "and I think he was getting a little tired of sitting around the house."

Strasburg was among 16 of 32 first-round picks without announced agreements heading into the final day. Only three first-round picks failed to sign, and the deadline didn't apply to one of them.

Nationals president Stan Kasten said the team resolved the deal with Strasburg without much time to spare -- "11:58 and 43 seconds," he said.

"People thought it would take to the last minute," Kasten said, smiling. "We didn't even need that last minute."

Scott Boras represented six of the unsigned first-round picks, including Strasburg and the second, third, ninth, 13th and 30th selections.

In addition to Strasburg, he negotiated a five-year contract worth at least $7.5 million for Dustin Ackley, a North Carolina centre-fielder taken by No. 2 Seattle; a $3.25 million signing bonus for Donavan Tate, a centre-fielder from Cartersville High School in Georgia selected No. 3 by San Diego; a $5.5 million, six-year contract for Jacob Turner, a right-hander from Westminster Christian Academy in Missouri taken by No. 9 Detroit; and a $2.75 million signing bonus for Grant Green, a Southern Cal shortstop drafted No. 13 by Oakland.

Tate had planned to play football and baseball at North Carolina.

The Toronto Blue Jays reached agreements with third-round selection Jacob Marisnick and three other players, but failed to sign three of their top picks from the 2009 draft.

Supplemental first-rounder James Paxton of Ladner, B.C., second-rounder Jake Eliopoulos of Newmarket, Ont., both left-handed pitchers, and third-round pick Jake Barrett, a right-hander, decided to take their chances next year and go back into the draft.

The Blue Jays will receive similar picks in 2010 as compensation for letting them walk.

Joining Marisnick in signing Monday were outfielder Kristopher Hobson (sixth round), Andrew Hutchison (15th round) and fellow right-hander Daniel Webb (18th round).

Tampa Bay failed to agree with another Boras client, LeVon Washington, a second baseman from Buchholz High School in Florida taken by Tampa Bay with the 30th pick.

"We are disappointed that LeVon has chosen not to sign with the Rays. We offered him a bonus consistent with late first-round picks," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. "Immediately following the draft, he seemed eager to sign but it has not materialized. We wish LeVon great success with his baseball career."

Among other picks, Zack Wheeler, a right-hander from East Paulding High in Georgia selected sixth by San Francisco, agreed at $3.3 million. Cincinnati and Arizona State right-hander Mike Leake, the No. 8 pick, agreed at $2.27 million and Colorado gave $3.9 million to the No. 11 pick, Tyler Matzek, a left-hander from Capistrano Valley High School in Mission Viejo, Calif.

Cleveland agreed at $2.25 million with the 15th pick, North Carolina right-hander Alex White, and Florida settled at $1.7 million with Chad James, a left-hander from Yukon High School in Oklahoma selected with the 18th pick.

St. Louis agreed at $2,875,000 with Shelby Miller, a right-hander from Brownwood High School in Texas taken with the 19th pick. Minnesota agreed with the 22nd pick, Missouri right-hander Kyle Gibson, at $1.85 million. And the Yankees gave a $2.2 million deal to the 29th pick, Slade Heathcott, a centre-fielder from Texas High School in Texarkana.

Texas failed to sign Matt Purke, a left-hander from Klein High School in Texas.

Right-hander Aaron Crow, selected 12th by Kansas City, was not subject to the deadline because he exhausted his college eligibility. He was among just two first-round picks who failed to sign last year, when he was drafted ninth by the Nationals. Right-hander Gerrit Cole, taken by the Yankees with the 28th pick in 2008, decided to attend UCLA.

Stephen Strasburg (Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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