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Wednesday, April 23, 2014         

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Harper, Nationals agree

The 17-year-old slugging catcher is among 14 to sign on the final day

By Ronald Blum

Associated Press

POSTED:


NEW YORK » Top draft pick Bryce Harper and the Washington Nationals agreed to a $9.9 million, five-year contract just before the midnight deadline.

Harper was among 14 first-round selections who signed on the final day. Three first-round picks failed to sign, and the teams that chose them will get extra selections as compensation in the first round of next year's draft.

Harper, a 17-year-old power-hitting catcher from College of Southern Nevada, was the first JUCO player taken with the top overall pick.

He gets a $6.25 million signing bonus in five equal payments of $1.25 million 30 days after approval and each July 1 from 2011 through 2014.

Harper receives salaries of $500,000 each in 2011 and 2012, $750,000 in 2013, $900,000 in 2014 and $1 million in 2015. He can earn $500,000 more a year in bonuses for time on the active major league roster in each of the final two seasons.

"Suffice it to say, both sides gave up ground at the last second to get the deal done," Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said.

Harper's deal is a record for a nonpitcher signed out of the draft who had not become a free agent.

Current New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira set the previous record for a major league deal for a position player, getting a $9.5 million, four-year deal from the Texas Rangers in 2001.

Harper's deal, like Teixeira's, was negotiated by agent Scott Boras.

"Essentially, it was discussion of a lot of variables because of the power of the player, the age of the player, what position players have been historically paid in the draft," Boras said in a telephone interview.

"With a player of this level of skill and talent," he added, "there's not really any comparables."

Harper hit .443 with 31 homers and 98 RBIs in his first season at the College of Southern Nevada, which plays in a league that uses wood bats. He skipped his final two years of high school and got his GED, making him eligible for the 2010 amateur draft.

Two first-round picks received $3.2 million, four-year contracts: catcher Yasmani Grandal with Cincinnati and third baseman Zack Cox with St. Louis. Other first-round picks got minor league deals.

Right-hander Jameson Taillon, the No. 2 pick, got a $6.5 million bonus from Pittsburgh. Shortstop Manny Machado, the No. 3 selection, received a $5.25 million bonus from Baltimore.

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz, the No. 5 pick, agreed with Cleveland at $2.65 million. The Mets agreed with right-hander Matt Harvey, the No. 7 selection, at $2,525,000.

Outfielder Gary Brown, picked 24th, agreed with San Francisco at $1.45 million. Machado, Harvey and Brown also were represented by Boras. Last year, Boras and the Nationals agreed to a $15.1 million, four-year deal for top pick Stephen Strasburg just before the deadline.

Three right-handed pitchers selected in the first round failed to sign: No. 6 Barret Loux with Arizona, No. 9 Karsten Whitson with San Diego and No. 14 Dylan Covey with Milwaukee.

Covey recently was diagnosed with diabetes, and Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said that played a pivotal role in his decision not to sign.

"We were willing to sign, but he felt with the management needed and discipline involved with diabetes it was necessary to stay close to home," Melvin said. "This was all a sudden, unexpected, tough-luck happening."

Brewers scouting director Bruce Seid said Covey will attend the University of San Diego instead.

Seid said Covey and his family only found out recently about his diagnosis and were understandably overwhelmed.

"It was pretty devastating," Seid said. "No matter how much time you have, in this case, there's a lot of time needed to determine what's the best situation."

Covey's family did not immediately return a message from the Associated Press.

Colorado agreed with right fielder Kyle Parker, taken 26th, on a contract that allows him to play quarterback for Clemson this fall before reporting to spring training.

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed right-hander Zach Lee, selected 28th, for $5.25 million. He already had taken snaps at quarterback in fall practice at LSU.

Associated Press writers Howard Fendrich in Washington and Chris Jenkins in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

 






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