Nationals sign first four 2011 Draft picks

Nationals sign first four 2011 Draft picks

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals agreed to terms with their first four selections -- third baseman Anthony Rendon, right-hander Alex Meyer, outfielder Brian Goodwin and left-hander Mathew Purke -- in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.

Teams had until 12:01 a.m. ET on Tuesday to come to terms with their draftees, meaning official notification had to be in the Commissioner's Office when the clock struck midnight.

"For us to land what we believe are four first-round picks and pay them accordingly, I think is a testament to the commitment of winning here in Washington," general manager Mike Rizzo said. "This is probably the first draft that I've been associated with where we can look back at this thing and figure out that we did get four players that we had first-round numbers on coming into the Draft.

"We have a grading system that is used in our scouting system, and they graded at the top echelon of all players. That's the first time that has ever happened to me, where we drafted and signed four players that we had first-round numbers on."

Rendon and Purke received Major League deals and were put on the 40-man roster. It marks the first time Rizzo and the Nationals handed out two Major League deals in the same Draft.

Rendon received a four-year deal worth $7.2 million with a club option, according to a baseball source. It was reported that Purke received a four-year, $4.4 million deal, but the source said the deal is less than the reported dollar figure.

Of the four players the Nationals signed, Purke was the easiest. The two parties had the parameters of a deal in place by late Saturday into Sunday morning.

The left-hander has the ability of a top-round talent -- and was selected No. 14 overall by the Rangers in 2009, coming out of high school -- but he came with injury concerns.

Purke had a dominant freshman season that saw him go 21-1 for Texas Christian University, but elbow bursitis shut down the sophomore after 11 starts this season.

Before agreeing to terms, Purke took a physical and pitched in front of Rizzo and a member of his staff. Purke showed that he was healthy and the team was willing to sign him.

"[Purke] was so open and honest about what he went through," Rizzo said. "He allowed us full access to him. Not many Draft choices allow you to do an MRI or arthrogram and shoot dye into the bodies for us to get a clear evaluation of their status."

The Nationals were close to the wire when it came signing the other three players, who are advised by Scott Boras.

"It was high anxiety," Rizzo said. "If you would have told me that we would walk out of this thing and we signed everybody we wanted to sign, I would have doubted that it could have been done."

Rendon is another player who has a history of injuries -- he's had shoulder and ankle problems in the past.

But injuries didn't appear to slow Rendon's season in 2011. In 63 games, he hit .327 with six home runs, 27 RBIs and an on-base percentage of .520 for Rice.

"We are very comfortable with Anthony's health," Rizzo said. "He was seen and cleared by our doctors and Dr. Lewis Yocum. We met Anthony out in L.A. when we played the Dodgers. Myself and [principle owner] Mark Lerner had a long meeting with he and his family and got a good feel for him that day. We are satisfied with every aspect about him."

Rendon will start his professional career at third base, but a source indicated that he could move to another position like second or first base if Ryan Zimmerman continues to man third.

This year marked the first time since 2008 that the Nationals didn't have the first overall pick in the Draft. In the past two Drafts, the Nationals selected right-hander Stephen Strasburg and outfielder Bryce Harper with the top overall picks.

Meyer, who received a $2 million signing bonus, had a 2.94 ERA and struck out 110 batters in 101 innings for Kentucky this season. Some Draft experts had Meyer taken by the Nationals with the sixth pick, but the team gambled with the hope that he would be available later in the first round, and he was.

Goodwin, a compensation pick, will receive a $3.6 million bonus. He was 60-for-157 (.382) with eight home runs, 37 RBIs and 42 runs scored in 47 games with Miami Dade College in 2011. The left-handed-hitting Goodwin also posted a .492 on-base percentage and 16 stolen bases for the Sharks.

For the short term, all four players will report to the Spring Training facility in Viera, Fla. The team will then decide at which level they will start their professional careers.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. Associate reporter Steven Miller contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.