Earlier today, Jon Heyman reported that the Rays best offer to first-round pick LeVon Washington was $1.1 million, which is close to the slot recommendation as put forth by the Commissioner’s Office for the 30th pick.
But in a story by Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun, Washington’s dad says the Rays had a better offer on the table prior to the draft and as a result, Washington chose not to work out for other teams.
Victor Washington said his son and the Rays had a verbal agreement in place for a signing bonus before he was drafted. He declined to disclose the specific amount of the bonus…“Basically, we made an agreement before the draft,” he said. “The agreement was that LeVon wasn’t going to work out for anyone if he wasn’t going to be paid above slot (value.)”…But Victor Washington said after the Rays took Washington with the 30th pick, they chose not to negotiate for 70 days. Washington said when the sides finally talked last Thursday, the Rays only offered slot value, projected at $1 million.
Victor also feels that the Rays “didn’t want to sign” LeVon. That seems like an overreaction. Why would a team select a player in the first round if they had no intention to sign him?
But what about the rest of the story? Did the Rays back out of a pre-draft deal? Were the Rays scared off by the shoulder injury? Had the Rays reached their draft signing bonus budget (the Rays went well over slot for three of their top 10 picks)? Or did the Rays just misjudge how much Washington and Scott Boras would demand once he was selected?
Of course, complicating this matter further was the strange tactic taken by the Rays on draft day, in which they issued a press release essentially ending negotiations 12 hours prior to the deadline. The Rays said there would not be enough time to issue a physical, but Victor Martinez said his son was “medically cleared and that his shoulder problems were overblown,” noting that negotiations with Stephen Strasburg went until 11:58pm.
Brockway also reports that Washington, who previously committed to the University of Florida will attend a Junior College after failing to qualify academically.
Washington OK with decision not to sign with Rays [Gainesville Sun]