How Will The Nationals Handle The Standoff with First Rounder Erick Fedde?

The clock is ticking for all 30 MLB teams to sign their picks from the 2014 Draft, as the signing deadline is tomorrow, Friday, July 18 at 5 pm. This deadline is especially crucial for the Washington Nationals, as three of their top-10 picks remain in the balance: UNLV righthander Erick Fedde (1st round), Miami lefthander Andrew Suarez (2nd), and Nevada first baseman Austin Byler (9th).

On Tuesday, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reported that the Nationals and Fedde are at an impasse in their negotiations. With the prospect and his advisor Scott Boras asking for a bonus around $3 million, above the 18th pick’s slot value of $2,145,600, one source told Kilgore “I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t get done.” As noted in the article, the Nationals have spent $1.368 million on seven of their first 10 picks, and have to work within their bonus pool of $5, 275,700. If they exceed that cap, they will have to pay a penalty.

In the days before the draft, Fedde underwent Tommy John surgery, making it likely that he will miss most if not all of 2015. Therefore, he would have little leverage in going back for his senior year, as he would be sidelined while other prospects work their way up in the draft.

If the Nationals were to pass on Fedde, they would receive the 19th pick in next year’s draft as compensation. The possibility of having two first-round draft picks is intriguing for the Nationals, especially considering that at their current pace the compensation pick would be their highest (FanGraphs current projections have the Nationals winning the NL East at 90-72). This extra pick would also give the Nationals flexibility to sign a top-tier free agent and retain a first-round choice.

That being said, Fedde’s ceiling makes that proposition a tricky one. Prior to his injury, the consensus was that he had the talent to go in the top five picks, with Baseball America filing a scouting report that noted his good command of 90-93 mph fastball and low-to-mid 80’s slider to go along with a decent changeup.

Depending upon how his rehab process went, Fedde could become a steal for the Nationals and give their farm system a top-tier prospect that they could really use. Selecting a player of this caliber is unlikely next year, and it is more unlikely that the Nationals would find a high-ceiling player that comes without substantial risk.

History suggests that the Nationals probably will take their chances by signing Fedde. While their track record with drafting injury-prone players is far from spotless (see Matt Purke and Sammy Solis), injuries have never stopped Mike Rizzo, who has signed all of his top picks since becoming the general manager in 2009.

Considering that the Nationals have very few high-upside prospects in their farm system and that their expected success in the future will push them further back in the draft, the chances of landing a talent with the potential of Fedde will reduce by the year. This will probably result in an agreement; the question is how much leverage the Nationals will cede to Fedde in the process.

Minors Notes:

  • Michael Taylor went 1-for-3 with an RBI in Wednesday’s Eastern League All-Star Game. Along with first baseman/outfielder Kevin Keyes and reliever Colin Bates, Taylor was one of three Harrisburg Senators to take part in the Western Division’s 5-2 win over the Eastern Division.
  • Jhonatan Solano went 1-for-2 with a home run for the International League in its 7-3 win over the Pacific Coast League in the Triple-A All-Star Game. Other Syracuse Chiefs who appeared in the game included Steven Souza Jr., who went 1-for-4, and Aaron Laffey, who hurled a scoreless inning of relief.



About Zach Spedden

Writer for Federal Reserve section of The Nats Blog and co-founder of Hagerstown Suns Fan Blog