The Matt Purke saga continues as the draft-eligible sophomore has been selected on the second day of the 2011 MLB draft. Two years ago the Rangers picked Purke in the middle of the first round and reportedly verbally agreed to a deal in the $6 million range. Because Bud Selig strongly encourages teams to not hand out well above slot deals until just before the signing deadline in August, the Rangers had the misfortune of seeing Tom Hicks' sports empire crumble while in those two months. By August, MLB was subsidizing the Rangers' payroll and would not allow them to pay such a high bonus.
Purke had a stellar 2010, leading TCU to the College World Series and put himself in position to be one of the top three picks in this draft. His arm would not cooperate, and Purke showed declining stuff before sitting down midseason to rest his shoulder. A return just before the draft was not enough to restore his lofty status, so Purke had to settle for a third round selection by the Nationals.
He does have options. Because Washington has over two months to sign Purke, if his arm is in proper shape he can pitch in a summer league to try to restore his value. And because he is only a draft eligible sophomore, Purke can return to TCU for his junior season and still have leverage next summer. Of course that all requires a healthy and explosive arm.
For the Nationals' part, they add Purke to a tantalizing draft list that includes Anthony Rendon and Alex Meyer - two top ten talents - along with Brian Goodwin. Mid-August will be a nervous time for Nats fans, but their franchise could take an enormous step forward for the third straight year.