The Nationals signed first-round pick Erick Fedde with a bonus worth just over $2.5 million, a deal that softened the blow from the Nationals’ inability to sign their second round pick. The Nationals and Fedde settled on rough terms Friday around 2 p.m., three hours before the 5 p.m. deadline.
“We’re excited to have an upside arm such as Fedde in the family,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him and getting him down to Florida and beginning his rehab process and taking him through our philosophy.”
Left-hander Andrew Suarez, the No. 57 overall pick, decided to return to the University of Miami, the team’s official Twitter account and Suarez’s Instagram page announced around 3 p.m. The Nationals will receive the 58th pick in next year’s draft as compensation.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing not to sign your second-round pick,” Rizzo said. “We’ll be really excited to have two second-round picks next year.”
The Nationals also failed sign ninth-round pick Austin Byler, a first baseman from the University of Nevada. There had been doubt Byler would sign for the past week.
Entering the day, Rizzo felt the Nationals had a chance to sign all three unsigned picks in their top 10, but felt best about their chances to land Fedde, the No. 18 pick.
Teams choosing behind the Nationals in the draft told Fedde they would have signed him for $3 million, a bonus commensurate with other pitchers who, like Fedde, had the talent to be taken in the top 10 picks but slid after injury concerns. The slot value for the 18th pick is $2,145,600. The Nationals and Fedde met in the middle.
Overall, the Nationals spent roughly $4.148 million to sign eight of their top 10 picks. After removing the values attached to their second-round and ninth-round picks, their bonus pool shrunk to $4.113 million. If teams surpass their bonus by less than five percent, they incur a financial penalty. If they blow past it by more than five percent, they forfeit their first-round pick the next season. The Nationals could have spent a total of roughly $4.32 million without losing a draft pick, so they will only pay a small fine.
Fedde, a right-handed pitcher from UNLV, played on the same high school team as Bryce Harper, who said, “he has the best slider I’ve ever seen.” He touched 96 and 97 miles per hour with his fastball before injury struck in the middle of his junior season. He underwent Tommy John surgery two days prior to the draft and will not pitch in a game for about a year. Nationals scouting director Kris Kline said Fedde had “top five” talent before he suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament.
“He’s a big, physical pitcher that’s got good stuff and commands it well,” Rizzo said. “His repertoire is deep. We feel that he’s going to be a successful starting pitcher in the big leagues soon.”
Suarez, a control lefty, will return to Miami. Suarez underwent shoulder surgery coming out of high school and used a redshirt his freshman season. He still has two years of eligibility remaining, Miami Coach Jim Morris said. With the extra year of eligibility, Suarez will maintain leverage if chosen in next year’s draft. If Suarez had only year remaining, Morris said, he likely would have signed.
“I think he thought he was going to sign,” Morris said. “I fully expected him to sign. Returning to school felt like the best thing for him and his family.”
The negotiations between Suarez, who is advised by The Legacy Agency, and the Nationals broke down for strictly financial reasons. Suarez “had a figure in mind” from the moment the Nationals drafted him, Morris said.
“We’re not going to give details on the negotiation,” Rizzo said. “Suffice it to say, we couldn’t agree on terms.”