The Nationals likely will go down to the midnight deadline Monday to sign No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper, who's expected to break the record for the largest guarantee ever given to a position player in the draft ($9.5 million by Mark Teixeira from the Rangers in 2001). But Washington already has gotten a huge start on spending by agreeing to terms with fourth-round pick A.J. Cole for $2 million and second-rounder Sammy Solis for $1 million.
Cole broke the fourth-round bonus record of $1.5 million set by Athletics catcher Max Stassi a year ago. Cole and Solis received the first two seven-figure bonuses given to 2010 draftees after the supplemental first round. MLB's recommendations for their draft slots were $694,800 for Solis (No. 51 overall) and $258,300 for Cole (No. 116).
Update: Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called me Sunday morning and emphatically denied any agreements were in place at this time. Bill Ladson of MLB.com has reported that he has confirmed Cole's deal with a baseball source.
A righthander from Ovieda (Fla.) High, Cole entered 2010 as a near-lock first-rounder before inconsistency and signability concerns dropped him to the fourth round. At his best, the projectable 6-foot-5, 190-pounder works at 92-93 mph and touches 96 with his fastball. He also flashes a plus curveball and a changeup with late fade. He had committed to Miami.
After a herniated disc in his back limited him to two starts in 2009, Solis bounced back to go 9-2, 3.42 with 92 strikeouts in as many innings this spring as a redshirt sophomore at San Diego. The 6-foot-5, 228-pound lefty throws a lively 88-82 mph fastball and quality secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup.
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