UPDATED: Nats choose Jackson Rutledge with their 1st round pick! The countdown to the Draft and Craig Kimbrel is on the clock!

Draft orders and Draft dollars are locked-in for today’s Rule 4 Amateur Draft because first round draft picks cannot be traded making today more about the amateur players and who goes first — but today there is some intrigue about a veteran free agent named Craig Kimbrel who can be signed today with no “qualified offer” penalties. With the Washington Nationals historically poor bullpen, the Nationals could make their splash by signing Kimbrel who might not necessarily push the Nats over the 2019 CBT cap if they got creative.

There are no more “comp” picks like the old system for “qualified offer” players to get a team additional first round picks so teams will pick in order by worst record based on 2018 results. The Nationals will pick at #17 in the first round. Unfortunately, the compensation pick the Nationals will receive for Bryce Harper signing with the Phillies was forfeited when the Nationals signed Patrick Corbin plus the Nationals forfeited their second round pick (57th overall) due to the Corbin signing.

Since Harper signed with another club for at least $50 million, the Nats would have received a 2019 draft pick that would have come after the fourth round because the Nationals exceeded the CBT tax for 2018 — but as mentioned the Nats forfeited that pick when they signed Patrick Corbin along with the Nats second round pick. If the Nats managed to get under the CBT tax last year, their compensatory pick would have come after the second round this year at pick #78 which will actually go to the Dodgers as compensation for Yasmani Grandal signing with the Brewers.

Yes, it is complicated. The Nationals forfeited their second- and fifth-highest picks when they signed Patrick Corbin plus $1 million in international bonus money because the Nationals were over the CBT cap which means they will not pick in the second round and that comp pick for Harper is also forfeited. Now you are up to date on the Washington Nationals. Today they will pick at #17 in the first round then tomorrow at #94 in the 3rd round and #123 of the 4th round.

In MLB draft history, many #17 picks have done well. Names like Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Gary Matthews, Charles Nagy, Jeromy Burnitz, and A.J. Pollock are just some of the names at #17. At pick #94, the most recognizable names would be David Justice, Joe Smith and Scott Downs. At #123, it is really slim pickings to find successful players from baseball history beyond Steve Sparks and Rene Gonzalez who was the Expos pick at #123 in the 1982 draft.

In 2012, MLB established a draft pool system plus recommended dollars at each pick. The Nationals pool is only $5,979,600 this year based on draft order and removing the value for their forfeited picks. Each pick in the first 10 rounds of the Draft has an assigned value with the total for each of a team’s selections equal to what it can spend in those rounds without incurring a penalty. If a player taken in the first 10 rounds does not sign, his choice’s value gets subtracted from his club’s pool. Any bonus money above $125,000 given to an individual player selected in rounds 11-40 also counts against a team’s allotment.

Additionally, if a team exceeds its assigned  draft pool dollars in total, it could face more penalties. Teams that outspend their allotment by 0-5% would pay a 75% tax on the overage. At higher thresholds, clubs lose future picks: a first-rounder and a 75% tax for surpassing their pool by more than 5 and up to 10%; a first- and a second-rounder and a 100% tax for more than 10 and up to 15%; and two first-rounders and a 100% tax for more than 15%.  These penalties have kept teams from going through what the Nationals went through before 2012 when the system had no caps leading the Nationals to pay record amounts for signing Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper and all of the intrigue of whether they would sign. If you remember, it seemed to always take until the last seconds on the clock with the Boras clients under the old system.

In the new system, players begin to sign days and weeks after they are drafted because the dollars are so closely aligned with the recommended dollars. The #1 pick this year has a recommended amount of $8,415,300. In comparison, back in 2010 Harper signed for $9.9 million, and $15.1 million for Strasburg in 2009.

Kimbrel joins a small list of players who turned down qualified offers and remained unsigned deep into the season. He is not alone because after months of speculation, Dallas Keuchel joins him on that list along with Kendrys Morales and Stephen Drew who had a similar fate in years gone by. Not surprising that Scott Boras once again adds a client to the list as Keuchel’s agent. The agent for Kimbrel is David Meter, and it is expected that Kimbrel will have several suitors inquiring. Although there is no draft penalties with signing Kimbrel and Keuchel now, there are dollars at risk as well as ramp-up time. Greg Holland signed late last year on March 31st and he struggled with the Cardinals and was released during the season and picked up by the Nationals. Holland’s agent is also Scott Boras.  So while the draft is going on there will sure to be rumors on Keuchel and Kimbrel circulating.


The Nationals chose Jackson Rutledge with their first round pick. He was picked as the best junior college prospect since Bryce Harper went No. 1 overall in 2010. He is from St. Louis and a 6’8″ hulking pitcher who went undrafted out of high school in St. Louis and went to Arkansas and then transfered to San Jacinto Junior College. Rutledge has an overpowering fastball and the best player of JuCo pitchers in ERA (0.93) and ranked second in strikeouts (123 in 77 2/3 innings).

“I want to be teammates with Max Scherzer as soon as I can,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge is the size of Jon Rauch but more athletic and has four pitches in his repertoire. He had a hip injury before the season which might have scared off some teams but not general manager Mike Rizzo who took the upside over the risk.

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