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Nats Sign Third-Round Pick

The Nationals have signed another high-round draft pick to a below-slot signing bonus. Third-round selection Trevor Holder, a right-handed pitcher from the University of Georgia, yesterday signed a contract that included a $200,000 bonus, Holder said. Holder was the 81st overall selection. Last year, pick Nos. 80-82 all signed for between $490,000 and $525,000. Holder's bonus figured to be at least slightly lower, though, for two reasons. MLB slotting guidelines were lowered this year by 10 percent. And, Holder is a senior, meaning he had little leverage. Seniors typically accept deals that are, on average, 30 percent below slot.

Holder's selection surprised many draft gurus. But yesterday, I spoke at length with acting GM Mike Rizzo about this particular pick -- and why he used his third-round selection on a player that many in baseball pegged for between the fourth and tenth rounds. (I'll post the full transcript of our interview later.)

This year for the Bulldogs, Holder went 7-5 with a 4.48 ERA in 15 starts.

Said Holder, about the negotiations: "It was one of those things where we were on the same page with what we wanted. All I wanted was an opportunity to get in. I think that's the main thing we wanted to stress. As far as negotiations, it was really easy."

Holder, who is moving out of his apartment in Athens, Ga., this afternoon, said he will soon report to Class A Vermont.

By Chico Harlan  |  June 13, 2009; 2:43 PM ET
 
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Next: Acta Talks; Willingham on Bereavement Leave [Update]

Comments

I know that many have pilloried the Nationals third round pick, but I happily embrace both the evident philosphy and results. Holder is a more mature product than many of the mor highly touted names, he comes from a very good program, and he was signable, affordable, and willing to report.

Good luck to him.

Posted by: natbiscuits | June 13, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

(from the last thread):
@BinM: "Truth told, there are probably only 10 players on the current 25-man that should be playing (or pitching) regularly in the NL (RZim, Flores, Dukes, Willingham, Lannan, JZimm, Martis, Beimel, Villone, Bergmann) with 2-3 others who could hack it in the AL (Guzman, Dunn, NJohnson) as a core."

Curious why you put Nick in the AL group. I totally get it with Guz and Dunn, but Nick (last night's debacle notwithstanding) is a solid hitter who's also a solid 1B.

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 13, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

BinM,

You are correct that this team has huge problems if the expectation is to "win consistenly". I agree with your evaluation of talent almost to a T. My issue is was with the real short term expectation of winning once in a blue moon with the Hand Jimbo left us. This team should be able to win at a .350 - .400 pace with what they have in talent and cash to spend this year.....Bard is a huge problem defensively and yes it would be only a few more wins this year....I for one would like to see them get those wins.

Posted by: JayBeee | June 13, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

OK, one more in the fold. Hoping to see the majority of the draft-eligible Jr's & CC players sign, along with all the Sr's & maybe one or two HS-level players this year.

Posted by: BinM | June 13, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

I think with Johnson the AL issue is he could take less days off because he could DH some. He never plays near as many games as he could even when he is healthy because he needs more rest than Dunn or Zim.

Posted by: JayBeee | June 13, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Acta gone. Replaced by Ridely? Reported by Fox Sports before Yankees v Mets game.

Posted by: dorseylaw | June 13, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

This is some Plan they've got. Nats' draft is Strasburg and a bunch of guys who no one else would have taken anywhere near where the Nats picked them. Chico, I can't wait to see that transcript and see what Rizzo has to say about how all these "best players available" just magically happen to be guys who will sign for way under slot.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 13, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Yes, that makes sense. I forgot about how fragile Nick is, since he (knock on wood) hasn't yet been on the DL this year.

(Hope I haven't jinxed him...)

Posted by: shepdave2003 | June 13, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Ken Rosenthal just said on the Fox Saturday pregame show that the Nationals have decided to replace Manny Acta with Jim Riggleman either on Monday's off day or after the Yankees series is over. Is Rosenthal full of it, or has he scooped the entire Washington press corps which seems more fixated on misprinted season ticket holder gifts than they are with what's going on with the team? I guess we'll know by Friday at the latest, won't we?

Posted by: nunof1 | June 13, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

Ken Rosenthal on Fox just said Acta is going to be replaced by Riggleman either Monday on the off day or Friday when the team comes back home. Chico -- anyone --- know if there is any truth to this?

Posted by: raymitten | June 13, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

"This is some Plan they've got. Nats' draft is Strasburg and a bunch of guys who no one else would have taken anywhere near where the Nats picked them. "

If they're the right players and the players the Nats wanted to draft, it doesn't matter a whit if they were picked nowhere near where another team would have picked them.

Posted by: nunof1 | June 13, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Apparently that is the buzz, I heard same thing on WFAN Mets pre-game. Maybe the Mets are ready to make a move too!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | June 13, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the Nats are able to say to Storen and Holder that they were clearly overdrafted and they should sign for about the same money as the slot they otherwise would have been chosen in? If so, this is a successful strategy, financially.

Posted by: EdDC | June 13, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"If they're the right players and the players the Nats wanted to draft, it doesn't matter a whit if they were picked nowhere near where another team would have picked them."

Yeah, right. Or, it could be that they are just cheap bastards. Time will tell...

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 13, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

Exactly, Ed. It's the Billy Beane Moneyball strategy. At least Beane admitted what he was doing, though, and his financial constraints are real, rather than simply attributable to the Lerners' unbelievable cheapness.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | June 13, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Fox Sports reports Manny's done Riggleman's in: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/9677990/Sources:-Acta-out-as-Nats'-skip-soon,-Riggleman-in

Posted by: saranac11 | June 13, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Coverage,

Look at these data:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Table_of_United_States_Metropolitan_Statistical_Areas

DC's population ranks well ahead of the San Fran-Oakland market. The DC area is 9th in the US in population size and is among the nation's richest. San Fran, which must split its population base between two teams (the Giants and the A's), ranks 13th. DC ranks ahead of Boston and Detroit in population size--and both of those two teams invest heavily in their on-field product.

The DC market is small only in the minds of the Lerners. The irony is that the Nats have a long way to go to achieve the same results as the truly small-market A's. Likely you can build a club on the cheap and achieve fairly good results on the field (maybe not Boston-type results, but at least Oakland-type results). But the draft is the absolute worst place to worry over saving a little money.

Posted by: EdDC | June 13, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

This comment has been approved by a WaPo lackey.

Posted by: Wooden_U_Lykteneau | June 13, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Hmmmm, St. Clair, Acta....movin on up. Now the clock starts at Stank Asten. Tic Toc Tic Toc......Now we're finally making progress....Tic Toc........

Posted by: dovelevine | June 13, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Congrats and welcome to Holder.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | June 13, 2009 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Well, we've got our error out of the way. Shine defense shine!

Posted by: souldrummer | June 13, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

eddc: "The DC area is 9th in the US in population size and is among the nation's richest. San Fran, which must split its population base between two teams (the Giants and the A's), ranks 13th."

That's a bit deceptive, since the Orioles draw a significant chunk of their attendance from the DC suburbs, and always have. In fact, the Nats haven't made the sort of inroads they'd hoped for among the Oriole faithful. Winning would help, of course.

The DC metro area may not really qualify as a 'small market', but the Lerners are very definitely small-market owners. Hiring Jim Bowden, whose teeth were cut in Cincinnati, was a clue. Now every owner can use a dark reference to 'the economy' to justify fiscal conservatism. Holder's selection is probably an example of that.

But the first three choices weren't. Of those, the most difficult to defend is actually Strasburg, given the track record of pitchers in that number one spot. The other two were quite sensible purchases. Whether they pan out is another matter.

I hope nobody spends much time reading Internet baseball scouting websites, because they're about as accurate as a Vedic horoscope. Those on the inside of MLB draft processes remind us that team draft ranking vary to a ridiculous extent. A player can easily be in the top ten on one club's board and fifty places lower on another's. And team success at developing young players also varies wildly, depending in most cases on one or two key figures at each minor league location.

The Lerners still haven't figured out how to be good MLB owners. I'm not sure yet if they're even trying. Still, there's one thing to be thankful for -- they're not Peter Angelos.

Posted by: Samson151 | June 13, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

sampson151 You quote me a saying "The DC area is 9th in the US in population size and is among the nation's richest. San Fran, which must split its population base between two teams (the Giants and the A's), ranks 13th."

And then you say: "That's a bit deceptive, since the Orioles draw a significant chunk of their attendance from the DC suburbs, and always have. In fact, the Nats haven't made the sort of inroads they'd hoped for among the Oriole faithful. Winning would help, of course."

Please keep in mind that Baltimore has its own regional population (MSA) of 2.7 million. One thing you could say is that the Nats and O's split a combined regional population of 8.1 million. That would put the combined region as 4th in America, if you wanted to do it that way, and the majority of the combined regional population is tilted over in our side. And don't forget, the Nats draw from the O's base too. So what's "deceptive"?

Finally, you say: "The Lerners still haven't figured out how to be good MLB owners. I'm not sure yet if they're even trying. Still, there's one thing to be thankful for -- they're not Peter Angelos."

To me, the Lerners are much worse than Angelos. Angelos has always spent on the franchise--his problem was lack of vision. Now that he has turned the reigns over to a President who has vision, Andy McPhail, you get the right combo of vision and willingness to spend. That makes Angelos much better than the Lerners, and the O's will be going in the opposite direction from the Nats.

Posted by: EdDC | June 13, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Another great start by Jordan Zimmermann is flushed down the toilet!

Posted by: GoingGoingGone | June 13, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

"Please keep in mind that Baltimore has its own regional population (MSA) of 2.7 million. One thing you could say is that the Nats and O's split a combined regional population of 8.1 million. That would put the combined region as 4th in America, if you wanted to do it that way, and the majority of the combined regional population is tilted over in our side. And don't forget, the Nats draw from the O's base too. So what's "deceptive"?

So what's deceptive? The notion that they have equal claim to the region's fan base. That's not logical when one of the teams has been in the region since 1954, drawing a fairly steady 35% of its attendance from the DC metro area (and doing very well attendance-wise). The O's were contenders from 1960 through '65, and through 1983, posted a remarkable 18 consecutive winning seasons, best in baseball. They've produced six Hall of Famers, including Cal Ripken. The O's haven't duplicated the Earl Weaver years but did open the revolutionary Camden Yards facility in '92-93 and went to the playoffs in '96 and '97.

The Nats, by contrast, moved here in 2005 and finally opened their new park this season.

The O's, by the way, own the Nats' TV network, don't they?

eddc: "Angelos has always spent on the franchise--his problem was lack of vision. Now that he has turned the reigns over to a President who has vision, Andy McPhail, you get the right combo of vision and willingness to spend. That makes Angelos much better than the Lerners, and the O's will be going in the opposite direction from the Nats."

So you're saying Peter Angelos wasted a lot of good money on bad signings, mostly because he didn't listen to people who knew more than he did. I agree. Does that make Angelos a better owner than the Lerners?

Angelos has owned the club for what, 17 years? The Lerners took over in mid-2006 and promptly hired Stan Kasten, every bit the baseball man that Andy McPhail is.

The O's are coming off 11 consecutive losing seasons. Why give them a pass instead of the Lerners?

Posted by: Samson151 | June 14, 2009 12:37 AM | Report abuse

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