Dodgers running out of time to sign top pick

Dodgers running out of time to sign top pick

ATLANTA -- Since the 2010 First-Year Player Draft in June, Dodgers officials have quietly insisted they will make a "serious" attempt to sign first-round pick Zach Lee.

By 9 p.m. PT Monday, we'll learn whether Lee considered the club's attempt to be "serious."

Lee is currently in training camp as a promising freshman quarterback at LSU. The Dodgers believe he has an even more promising career as a pitcher and drafted him with the 28th overall pick.

They did so despite Lee's leverage as a two-sport star. Lee let it be known his bonus demands would be "serious" too, somewhere in the $5 million neighborhood. Although Lee has kept his comments to a minimum, he did a good enough job communicating an expensive price tag to be passed over 27 times.

signing status
Below is the signing status of the first-round picks of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. For a complete list, click here.
# Player (Team) Signed Bonus
1 Bryce Harper (WAS) 8/16 $6.25M
2 Jameson Taillon (PIT) 8/16 $6.50M
3 Manny Machado (BAL) 8/16 $5.25M
4 Christian Colon (KC) 6/25 $2.75M
5 Drew Pomeranz (CLE) 8/16 $2.65M
6 Barret Loux (ARI) DNS
7 Matt Harvey (NYM) 8/16 $2.52M
8 Delino DeShields (HOU) 8/5 $2.15M
9 Karsten Whitson (SD) DNS
10 Michael Choice (OAK) 7/30 $2.00M
11 Deck McGuire (TOR) 8/16 $2.00M
12 Yasmani Grandal (CIN) 8/16 $2.99M
13 Chris Sale (CWS) 6/22 $1.65M
14 Dylan Covey (MIL) DNS
15 Jake Skole (TEX) 6/9 $1.55M
16 Hayden Simpson (CHC) 6/19 $1.06M
17 Josh Sale (TB) 8/16 $1.62M
18 Kaleb Cowart (LAA) 8/16 $2.30M
19 Mike Foltynewicz (HOU) 6/18 $1.30M
20 Kolbrin Vitek (BOS) 6/14 $1.35M
21 Alex Wimmers (MIN) 8/6 $1.33M
22 Kellin Deglan (TEX) 6/9 $1.00M
23 Christain Yelich (FLA) 8/16 $1.7M
24 Gary Brown (SF) 8/16 $1.45M
25 Zack Cox (STL) 8/16
26 Kyle Parker (COL) 8/16 $1.4M
27 Jesse Biddle (PHI) 6/10 $1.16M
28 Zach Lee (LAD) 8/16 $5.25M
29 Cam Bedrosian (LAA) 7/14 $1.16M
30 Chevez Clark (LAA) 7/8 $1.08M
31 Justin O'Conner (TB) 6/20 $1.02M
32 Cito Culver (NYY) 6/18 $954K

But not by the Dodgers, despite their uncertain financial condition. Although Lee said last week that there hadn't been any negotiations, the club has given indications it is prepared to offer the Texan the highest bonus in franchise history for a Draft pick -- surpassing the current record of $2.3 million for Clayton Kershaw in 2006.

The club has been in a virtual news blackout regarding Lee in recent days, perhaps a sign that something serious is about to happen.

Or not.

The deadline to sign all Draft picks is midnight Monday. If the Dodgers don't sign Lee, they will receive the 29th overall pick in next year's Draft as compensation. The last time the Dodgers failed to sign their top pick was 2005, when they drafted but did not sign supplemental pick Luke Hochevar, who became the first overall pick by Kansas City the following year.

Skeptics suggest that the Dodgers knowingly drafted an unsignable player because of a budgetary squeeze. But when assistant general manager of scouting Logan White drafted Lee, he insisted the club would make every effort to sign him.

"I didn't take Zach to not sign him," White said then. "You'll see as the summer goes along we'll make every effort to sign him, and I want to sign him. I know it won't be easy, but hopefully we'll get it done.

"If he focuses on baseball, I think he can move quickly, like Kershaw and [Chad] Billingsley. A lot will be made of the two sports, but as a pitcher, he has a real good arm and delivery, a plus breaking ball, he has a feel for a changeup, and when I saw him, he was 90-92 [mph] with the fastball and up to 95. The ball comes out of his hand easily. The guy's a competitor, he's smart. Put it all together, and we really couldn't pass him up. He's worth the risk of not signing. I like him that much."

White said Lee's competitive nature reminds him of Nolan Ryan, while Lee's athleticism and feel for pitching reminds him of a young Roy Halladay.

The Dodgers have signed 13 of their top 17 picks, but will not sign sixth-rounder Kevin Gausman, another high school pitcher also committed to LSU.

The Dodgers have signed a total of 26 of their 50 picks. Last year, the Dodgers signed their top 10, 18 of the first 19 and 30 of 51.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.