Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Will the Nats get Romero signed?


Sure would like to see him signed so I can get an updated pic... Photo via

Sure would like to see him signed so I can get an updated pic… Photo via

Signing deadline is tomorrow, Friday 7/7/17 at 5pm.

A surprisingly large number of top 10 round picks remain unsigned, including our own 1st rounder Seth Romero.  Mlbpipeline reports that as of this writing 6 first rounders and 19 guys in the top 10 rounds have yet to sign.

To put this into context, given the new bonus/slotting rules it is extremely rare to have a top-10 round pick not sign.  Last year there were just two guys out of the 300+ guys picked in the top 10 rounds who did not sign.  We know for sure that at least one 1st rounder won’t sign: Tampa announced they will not be reaching an agreement with their 1st rounder Drew Rasmussen, a RS-sophomore from Oregon State.  Interestingly there’s confusion as to whether Tampa gets a comp pick or if Rasmussen becomes a FA.  I’m not sure where this is coming from; is it because Tampa has announced they’re refusing to even offer him a contract?  I’ve never heard of the “opting to become a FA” out of the draft; I thought he just goes back to school and re-enters next year (or goes to indy ball, where he’d still be draft-eligible next year).   Anyway; point is, if there’s more than 2-3 picks that don’t sign, it’d be a shock.

Which is why Romero in particular seems like an odd case to still have not signed.  He has little leverage; he has no college team to return to.  The other 1st rounders all remain unsigned due to signability issues; for example Ashburn/UNC’s J.B. Bukauskas fell 10 slots from his projection thanks to his last two starts being sub-par (attributed to a blister); he’s probably holding out for a bonus figure closer to #6 overall versus where he got signed.  Is this just a case of his agent Scott Boras trying to make sure he’s in the headlines?  Are they really struggling to come up with a bonus figure at this point?  The Nats and Romero were linked together for many days prior to the draft; its not like a case where they had a surprise player “fall” to them and they didn’t have time to pre-negotiate a bonus figure before picking him.

(coincidentally; the MLBpipeline report still lists Cole Freeman as un-signed; in reality they announced his signing and underslot bonus figure within a couple hours of LSU losing the CWS final).

Odds are that Romero signs, but the delay is curious.  He needs innings so the delay shouldn’t be about holding down his IP limit.  He’s been without a team and without proper training for months, so he stands to stay in XST for a number of weeks, putting him basically at the tail end of the minor league season.  So 2017 is looking like a wash for the most important pick of the draft.

Romero signing prediction: he signs, for a bit more than slot, which costs the nats any remaining chance to sign Bryce Montes de Oca.  But that doesn’t seem like a huge surprise.  It still puts the Nats  in a position where they likely sign 34 of t heir 40 picks, a huge number.  They won’t sign Montes de Oca, nor Dusty’s son Darren Baker (tangent; I agree with prior comments; if that was a legacy signing for show, why so early?).  They also won’t get UVA’s Bennett Sousa who will return to improve his draft stock for his senior year, and they miss out on the three late round HS picks (two of which were also legacy picks).

top 10 signing misses: i’ll guess we’ll see a few more non-signings out of the top 10 rounds, beating last year’s record low of just 2 non-signings.


Written by Todd Boss

July 6th, 2017 at 11:44 am

44 Responses to 'Will the Nats get Romero signed?'

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  1. My lack of love for the Romero pick was well known even before the draft. Honestly, I’d be fine just getting a comp pick next year, all the more since they got a first-round-quality arm in Crowe anyway.

    The holdout just takes the cake. Of course they talked with Boras before the draft. Boras knew where the Nats were picking, what the slot value was, and how limited the Nats’ pool money was. Plus he has a client in Romero with no leverage. He can’t go back to school. If he’s left to his own devices for another year until the next draft, the odds are astronomical that he’ll do something else really stupid before then. And yet the Nats are playing along with all this?

    But three of the Nats’ five All Stars are Boras clients, as is the one in the final-five vote, and I enjoy watching them play. So we keep dancing with the Devil in the pale moonlight . . .

    Sousa announced almost immediately that he wasn’t signing, and Montes de Oca is looking like another no-go, for some reason. (It was very curious that he dropped so far in the draft to begin with.) At least according to the MLB Draft Tracker board, that leaves only Timmy Richards and the high schoolers. Richards was a senior, so I have no idea what the hold-up is there. Most of the seniors the Nats drafted around him got $2,500, not even a good downpayment on a car.


    6 Jul 17 at 12:44 pm

  2. Is it possible that it’s the Nats holding up Romero’s signing, not Romero? They’re still negotiating with Montes de Oca and they need money that would otherwise go to Romero to get it done. Maybe they agreed with Boras that Romero will “settle” for underslot — still a good outcome given that he would have fallen — if the Nats need the money elsewhere, but they’ll sign him last and give him slot money if it’s still available.


    6 Jul 17 at 1:14 pm

  3. That’s the only business theory that I could come up with.

    As for Rasmussen, I think if the rays offer 40% of slot they get a pick. If they don’t and he refuses to take an MRI, I think they also get a pick. No idea what this opting to be a FA is. Wouldn’t every draftee opt to become a FA if they could?


    6 Jul 17 at 1:21 pm

  4. DC: yeah that could absoultely be it. Its a balancing game now: every dollar more to de Oca is a dollar less to Romero. They have (if memory serves) somewhere in the $325k range of “extra” dollars to play with over Romero’s slot and the $125k that de Oca can get.

    Todd Boss

    6 Jul 17 at 1:47 pm

  5. Wally; my thoughts exactly. Who would agree to any deal if you could just say “eh no thanks i’ll try FA” and suddenly you can get offered double what your slot value is. Its the whole point of the draft; to avoid the free for all that used to exist back in the 1950s.

    Todd Boss

    6 Jul 17 at 1:48 pm

  6. Todd Boss

    6 Jul 17 at 1:51 pm

  7. I might buy DC’s theory . . . if it was anyone but Boras! With Uncle Scott, you just assume that he’s trying to squeeze every last dollar up to the very last minute. It does seem curious that that he got Crowe signed but has been holding out Romero.

    Chelsea Janes had written on Monday that the Killer Whale wasn’t likely to sign, so that deal possibility may have already died. Too bad, too, as he was a quite intriguing third-day pick.


    6 Jul 17 at 1:58 pm

  8. But what if it went like this: Boras agrees to a $2m deal so Nats can overpay others. But then all the other overpay deals fall through, so Nats have $500k unused and Boras now changes his tune and says ‘I was only forgoing it if you could use it, otherwise I get it’?

    The other theory is that Romero’s knuckleheadedness reared up again and the Nats are having second thoughts.


    6 Jul 17 at 4:53 pm

  9. They should have had first thoughts! As I said, I’m fine with a comp draft pick in this case.

    And what about all those idiotic commentaries around draft time that proclaimed that Romero could be in a major-league bullpen by the end of this season? They got the “bull” part right . . .


    6 Jul 17 at 4:58 pm

  10. Nats have finalized a deal with first-rounder Seth Romero. Still working out details.


    6 Jul 17 at 7:39 pm

  11. Wow, about 22 hours before the deadline . . . an early agreement with Boras!

    I didn’t like this pick at all, but I hope I’m wrong and everything turns out fine. It’s a big gamble, though.


    6 Jul 17 at 7:44 pm

  12. KW, I’m with you on this, someone who so far has been a bad guy.
    Anything other than underslot means it’s Boras using the nose ring again.
    Sure would like to see some extra money thrown Orca’s way.

    Mark L

    6 Jul 17 at 8:36 pm

  13. Elsewhere, the Nats are said to be inquiring about Raisel Iglesias of the Reds. I confess that I don’t know much about him. His numbers this year look excellent, other than a slightly worrisome walk rate and a very low BABIP that might revert to the mean at some point. Iglesais is signed for three more years for a total of around $16M.

    I was sound asleep by the time the Nats rolled out their bullpen last night, but Solis continues to be a disaster. He was getting rocked at Syracuse and should not have been activated. Time for him to either go back Upstate or DL.


    7 Jul 17 at 7:54 am

  14. FWIW there have been examples of “bad character” guys from their youth who cleaned it up and succeeded. Off the top of my head, Bush, Hamilton, Porcello, David Wells. Nobody looks at Rick Porcello in particular right now and remembers that he did some dumb knuckleheaded thing while he was in HS right? That’s what Nats fans should hope for with Romero.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 9:23 am

  15. So here’s an odd thought that has been going through my head lately: maybe it will be good for the Nats to hit a skid and have someone like ATL make it a real race. In their three playoff seasons, they enjoyed relatively stress free regular seasons. So fighting tooth and nail to get in might be a better way to prepare for the postseason. It seems weird to root for that as a fan, but honestly, with this bullpen, this hasn’t been a relaxed season for us fans to watch anyway, even though they have a big lead. So maybe the alternative is a better way to go.

    Lots of downside to this theory, obviously. The biggest is that Dusty will probably kill Max and Stras when all is said and done. But he’s kind of doing that anyway.


    7 Jul 17 at 9:46 am

  16. Knucklehead at 20 is very different from knucklehead at 25, that’s for sure. And we need to recognize that there are different degrees of knuckleheadedness. Romero’s rap sheet did not include things like domestic violence or DUI (to name two common athlete transgressions), which would be a lot more concerning to me than what he’s reported to have done. This is not to condone the pick (presumably there were talented guys without Romero’s history available), just to put what he’s supposed to have done in perspective.


    7 Jul 17 at 9:49 am

  17. What DC said makes a lot of sense. Montes de Oca was granted an extra year of eligibility, so he has two more years of draft to play with.

    How much would it take to sign him? How does that factor into Romero arrangement. The deadline to sign Romero is the deadline to sign Oca – today.

    I wouldn’t put it past Boras to be the WaPo “source” saying Oca is going back to school. In any case, at some point, like Schrock before him, if you get paid like a high draft pick, you really are taking a chance by going back.

    So let’s sit back and see whether the day will bring us good news, and how much of it.

    As for Richards, that is a curious story. Made more curious when the Nats signed undrafted by well regarded Ryan Merrill, a SS from TCU with College World Series pedigree, who started last night at Auburn.


    7 Jul 17 at 10:03 am

  18. Very true about Romero. No visits to the police, nothing really “bad.” Depending on your politics, was him apparently smoking weed a “really bad” thing or just him being a kid? Considering that had he been sitting in one of about 29 states smoking that weed, it likely would have been a legal activity. (to be fair to the nitpickers, I don’t think he turned 21 until a couple months ago; my point is more about the activity not the legalese). Other things were breaking curfew and a fight with a teammate.

    In Rizzo we trust. Lets hope a year from now he’s posting 12 K/9 in AA and we’re going, “damn, maybe he needs to be called up.”

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 10:06 am

  19. Romero signs for $2.8M; slot was 2.53M.


    7 Jul 17 at 10:36 am

  20. Randy Moss turned out well
    Randy Gregory did not

    The Nats are a sophisticated organization and the Lerners very sharp and humanistic. Most folks don’t discuss this but there is a growing cottage business of folks who hire out to teams to make sure that knuckleheads grow up and do not implode others’ investment in them. It is not just a sports issue, but very much operative in the entertainment and music business, where immaturity and ignorance contributes to highly pampered folks imploding others’ investment in them overnight. I’m sure the Nats have some kind of “mentorship” plan in place, or more to the point, Boras does as a pitch to his clients’ families.

    Happy to see we have another option in the minors to root for. Better than to not have signed him at all.


    7 Jul 17 at 10:44 am

  21. It’s more the collective nature of Romero’s knuckleheadedness rather than the severity of a specific incident. He knew that his draft status could be in jeopardy, as well as his place on the team, and yet he kept doing them. In doing so, he let the team down and I’m sure became a big distraction as well.

    I’m also concerned about his conditioning, and what it shows about his overall commitment. At one point in college, he got 40-50 pounds overweight. How many college athletes do that in this day and age? Very, very few. The vast majority at the D1 level, men or women, are obsessed with conditioning, and that goes double for ones with pro aspirations. Players who slack on their conditioning hear about it, from everybody. But to “slack” to the point of gaining 40 or 50? Yeah, the whole team probably wanted to kick his butt.


    7 Jul 17 at 10:52 am

  22. Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 10:55 am

  23. By my calculations, it looks like they left a little bit of possible money on the table below their 5% cushion. I think they have about 54k they could still throw above the 125k mark at Montes do Oca, which clearly isn’t going to get it done. I’ll publish the final numbers per my worksheet at some point to close the book on the 2017 draft.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 10:59 am

  24. Not holding my breath on the Killer Whale. I just hope they can get Timmy Richards. He’s a senior, so he doesn’t have much leverage.

    Here’s the tracker, already updated with the Romero signing:


    7 Jul 17 at 11:08 am

  25. The only guy who remains unsigned that *should* be signing is Richards. I just looked him up:

    3 year starting SS for big time program, even if he was batting 8th or 9th. Mainly i wanted to see if he was possibly a red shirt with more eligibility; nope. Drafted out of HS in 2013, definitely played all four years … drafted in the 18th round last year but the 24th round this year. So that’s not good for the player. Maybe he’s disgruntled about falling in the draft and wants more of the 125k that’s out htere for the taking. I don’t see a ton of money being thrown at any of these post 10th round college seniors. Maybe he’s thumbing his nose at $2,500.

    Montes out, Sousa out. 4 remaining HS kids (three of which were clearly ceremonial picks) won’t sign.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 11:21 am

  26. I saw something that said that Richards played much of the year with a sports hernia that likely will have to be fixed. He led the team in HRs in 2016 with nine, so I assume it’s not a hitter’s park. He had two homers in the CWS last month. Anyway, he’s a SS with some pop, and obviously a serious “gamer” to play through the hernia.


    7 Jul 17 at 11:27 am

  27. Maybe the sports injury is the reason the Nats signed Merrill – as an alternative to Richards. Merrill won a JUCO national championship and was a 15th round pick as a soph (JUCO) who returned to school and played (and played well) in 2 College World Series.

    In other news, the Nats signed 27(!) Latin American players. Who needs high schoolers in the June draft? They got one higher rated pitcher despite being in “the penalty.” In DiPuglia we trust!


    7 Jul 17 at 11:57 am

  28. 27 players! But none above $300k. Not that that matters; most of our DR major wins were signed for peanuts.

    Anyone know of a master database of IFA signing bonuses?

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 1:15 pm


    Keith Law’s chat today< i asked him how Romero got an overslot deal. His answer was interesting...

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 1:44 pm

  30. … and I see our own Derek (presumably) also asking a question about Goodwin 🙂

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 1:46 pm

  31. KLaw also answered Derek to the effect that the Nats wouldn’t be able to make a Miller/Chapman deal this summer if they aren’t willing to part with someone like Soto. This from the guy who nearly had a heart attack last year when it was suggested that the Nats consider giving up Giolito for Miller?

    The more direct answer is that there isn’t a Miller, Chapman, or even Melancon (’16 version) out there this summer, not even close.


    7 Jul 17 at 2:06 pm

  32. I did some quick google work at lunch to find some of the bonus figures for our more prominent IFA prospects and its pretty amazing. From what I’ve gathered:
    – Robles: $225k. Ok not bad, but not in the 7figures
    – Soto: $1.5M
    – Garcia: $1.3M
    – Pedro Severino: $55k
    – Rafael Bautista: $35k. wow
    – Anderson Franco: $900k, a big step for this team in 2013
    – Yasel Antuna: $3.9M, easily the record for this team. way too early to see what he can do but he is a 17yr old in GCL right now.
    – Raudy Read: $13k. and on the 40-man holding his own in AA
    – Jose Sanchez: $950k. he’s in GCL this year, hasn’t even turned 17 yet.
    – Jose Marmolejos: just $40k
    – Wander Suero: just $35k
    – Wilmer Difo: just $20k
    – Reynaldo Lopez: the most amazing one yet: just $17k for Lopez.

    There’s quite a few other more prominent IFAs older that i just couldn’t find the data for. But i’m interested in finding out signing bonus figures for every IFA who has ever appeared on a prospect ranking sheet for this taem.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 2:09 pm

  33. I haven’t seen a list of Nat international signings, and it wouldn’t mean much to me even if I did. FWIW, the two best-hitting Latin GCL Nats right now are from Venezuela.

    In past years when the Nats haven’t had much international money, they’ve trolled a lot among “over-aged” Latin kids, meaning 17 or 18, with tremendous success. Lopez, Difo, Severino, Bautista, and Marmolejos were all “over-aged” and cheap.


    7 Jul 17 at 2:12 pm

  34. I was posting the same time Todd was, along similar lines. Antuna is hitting pretty well in the GCL, Garcia not so much.


    7 Jul 17 at 2:13 pm

  35. FYI, in Law’s chat he explained the whole “draft to FA” thing with Rasmussen. Apparently its a new feature in the CBA w/r/t Rule4 draft. Interesting wrinkle. its towards the end of the chat.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 2:26 pm

  36. Yep, that was me. I figured he’d like MAT > Goodwin going forward but his response is interesting in that he implied it wasn’t a slam dunk. He didn’t answer the Goodwin-CF question, though I suppose his comment about Goodwin’s missing speed is a clue there.

    Re Soto, I agree 100% KW: if there was a Miller/Chapman caliber reliever out there, Soto might be a fair price. The Robertsons-Herrerras-Colomes of the world just aren’t of that caliber. You don’t pay filet mignon prices for ground beef, even if you really really need to buy some meat. If the Jays make Osuna available, that changes things.

    Re Giolito, I think two things are going on: (1) Klaw really believes in his future; (2) Klaw is invested in his own scouting report – his been on the train a long time and is reluctant to get off (the upside to his reputation of Giolito turning it around is much higher than the downside of him singing Giolito’s praises too long).


    7 Jul 17 at 2:29 pm

  37. Law and Giolito: he’s definitely repeated his endorsement over and over; he gets asked about it nearly every chat. In fact, I posted a question phrased kind of like “hey here’s your daily over reaction to Giolito SSS question” but he ended up taking a different version of the same. I’d actually prefer your #1 version Derek to #2: Law has not been afraid to admit that he’s wrong in the past, in fact he goes out of his way to be self deprecating in this manner. So his continued belief that the Nats did him harm and that he’s coming back around has to be less about his being stubborn and more true belief.

    Todd Boss

    7 Jul 17 at 3:02 pm

  38. Giolito is 2-8 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, with his stats “padded” by his seven-inning no-hitter against the woeful Syracuse Chiefs. So much for that great “fix” the vaunted Chisox pitching gurus were going to give him. He is only 22, though, turning 23 next week. I’m not wishing him ill luck, just reporting the facts. Lopez has a 4.03 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, with generally better peripherals than Giolito, but still not great. Both are striking out a lot of guys, but that’s about it.


    7 Jul 17 at 4:36 pm

  39. In addition to the lack of wonderful closers who might be available, the Nats don’t have much in the way of mid-level chips to trade for mid-level guys. There’s a big drop-off after the top four or five guys in the organization, and nearly everyone of any promise is very young.

    At AAA, Stevenson and Bautista have limited value because of limited pop, and Severino hasn’t hit at all this year. Fedde was terrible in his last start. At AA, Ward was mentioned as a Chisox target in a potential Robertson deal (along with Luzardo). Read has a lot of value as a catcher who is hitting, even if his defense may be suspect, so they’ll probably hold onto him pretty tightly. Maybe Marmolejos has some value, but he’s never been a highly rated “prospect.”

    At Potomac, it’s the untouchable Robles and . . . well, Gushue, maybe? Gutierrez might draw a little interest, but he still has hardly shown power.

    There’s plenty of talent at Hags, though, all young. Teams will be asking about McKenzie Mills, Tyler Watson, Sterling Sharp, Dan Johnson, et al. Blake Perkins has really cooled off after a hot start.

    We’ll see. A trade or two likely will be coming down the pike, but with so many teams still sorta in contention, it’s still hard to know who is selling.


    7 Jul 17 at 4:53 pm

  40. And yes, Soto, Kieboom, and Neuse are also at Hags, but they’re probably not available unless someone like Osuna is.


    7 Jul 17 at 4:57 pm

  41. I think Neuse is very much in play for a reliever. For instance, I doubt that CWS trade still works with Drew Ward, given that Robertson has pitched pretty good and Ward hasn’t played that well. I think Johnson may be another name that gets a lot of attention.

    Romero – I think organizations take chances on talent. That’s just the business reality. Rizzo has shown a willingness to do that with injuries, and now knuckleheads. The Nats probably don’t love that he has been a knucklehead, but also they probably don’t get him if he wasn’t. And I’m with Derek that there are plenty worse things kids can do besides get in a fight and smoke some weed. And if he doesn’t dedicate himself now, as a professional with the real dollars staring him in the face, then that’s a different story than failing to do it as a college kid. 19/20 yr olds aren’t the wisest group around, as I can attest from personal experience.

    But man, you have to give it to Boras. If ever a guy was holding a pair of twos and came away with the pot, it’s now. $300k over slot for this guy? Incredible.


    7 Jul 17 at 7:25 pm

  42. Boras is the Belichick of agents. You might not like his methods, but there’s no disputing his results. Plus you’d want him as your agent.

    Now, that doesn’t mean that it’s in the best interest of all his clients to hold them out while squeezing every last time. Romero and Crowe both would have benefited from an extra month in the system. It might mean the difference between them finishing the summer in Auburn or in Hagerstown.

    Wally, you’re probably right that Neuse or Johnson could be in play for a legit closer. My larger point is that teams usually want to trade for guys a little farther up the development ladder. We’ll see. It’s going to be an interesting month.


    7 Jul 17 at 9:07 pm

  43. Excellent comeback win for the Nats on Friday night. Their bats took 17.5 innings off but came alive in the bottom of the 9th. It was a big punch in the gut for the Barves to go from very nearly 7.5 back to 9.5 in the course of 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Johnson blew his seventh save. No thanks to him on the trade front.

    Not loving the lefties from our own bullpen. Ollie dug us a deep hole, and Grace nearly wasted the comeback. Enny hasn’t pitched in almost a week, so he must be dinged. Solis was getting bombed at Syracuse but got activated anyway and is still getting bombed.

    On the right side, Treinen had a good night, and Albers got the huge double-play ball to clean up the Grace mess.


    8 Jul 17 at 8:44 am

  44. The Nats have plenty of talent in the low minors that would attract interest. My sense is that Rizzo has made his offers and is playing a waiting game on a number of teams to see if they will either 1) choose to hold onto assets because they believe they will contend or 2) is willing to bet they will not get a better deal elsewhere because the Nats needs are more pronounced than others. Rizzo is very good at this. He is not afraid to walk away and is very direct and knows other organizations and what players fit their schemes.

    The majors have plenty of Nats talent that reflects well on whom Rizzo has been willing to trade. We’ve discussed Robbie Ray here, of course. But what about Travis Ott? He has now reached A+, is pitching every bit as well as Dane Dunning and is over half a year younger.

    As I noted above, I am concerned that the loss of the spark of Turner’s instant impact and catalysis is more deeply felt than we appreciate. The shutout tonight and a couple of one run output over recent games are trouble, especially now with Taylor out.

    Stevenson may yet get to the top of the order. Werth is clearly more hurt than a bruise, and “oblique” injuries have had an uncertain course.

    Hoping we see Wander Suero. Let’s see what he’s got.


    9 Jul 17 at 12:48 am

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