Minutes before the 5 p.m. ET deadline for clubs to sign picks from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, the Nationals agreed to terms with first-round selection Lucas Giolito on Friday afternoon. Giolito's signing means Washington has agreed to terms with each of its top 14 picks, and 23 of its top 24.
"It was right before the deadline," Washington general manager Mike Rizzo said. "It was dangerously close to the deadline. There was a time there that we thought there was a possibility that it wouldn't get done."
The Nationals reportedly signed Giolito, a right-handed pitcher out of Harvard-Westlake High School in California, to a $2.925 million signing bonus -- well above the $2.15 million slotted for the 16th overall pick. Because the team signed other top-10 selections below the recommended slot value, the Nats were able to offer Giolito up to $2,812,700 without incurring a fine for exceeding their signing bonus pool, according to calculations done by Baseball America.
Rizzo has made it a priority to sign top picks since he took over in Washington. As the deadline neared, he was a little worried that the team and Giolito might not be able to agree on a dollar figure.
"Right there at the end it got a little hairy," Rizzo said. "For the first time I thought we might not get it done. Cooler heads prevailed, and we thought it was best for the player to sign with us."
Because the Nationals exceeded their signing bonus pool by approximately $100,000, the team will have to pay a fine equal to 75 percent of the amount they went over the limit, which will be about $75,000 in this case.
"We thought that the amount of money we spent on this particular pick was of value to us," Rizzo said. "We felt that we wanted this player in our system, and we thought that with his value and his upside, this was a fair number for both sides."
The Nationals took the 17-year-old Giolito with the 16th overall selection in the June Draft. The righty possesses a fastball that has been clocked as high as 100 mph, as well as a power curveball.
The 6-foot-6, 230-pounder went 9-1 with 78 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.00 as a junior at Harvard-Westlake. But in 2012, he sprained the ulnar collateral nerve in his right elbow. Without the elbow trouble, it's likely he would have been taken higher in the Draft.
According to Rizzo, Giolito has been throwing long toss as well as throwing off flat ground, but the righty has yet to throw from a mound. After signing, Giolito will report to Florida, where he will begin a rehab program before joining Washington's farm system. It is unclear whether Giolito will be able to pitch in the Minors this season.
"He'll be on a rehabilitation program," Rizzo said. "We'll hope to ramp him up to pitching competitively soon."