Today is the deadline to sign picks from the 2010 MLB Draft, and the Dodgers have a few picks still yet to be signed. Sixth-round pick Kevin Gausman, a high school pitcher committed to LSU, and 11th-round pick Joc Pederson, an outfielder committed to USC, have yet to sign, but the big prize is Zach Lee, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-handed pitcher drafted with the 28th pick in the first round.
Lee has a scholarship to play both baseball and football at LSU, and has his pending future as a quarterback gives him a bit of leverage over the Dodgers in their quest to sign him. As a pitcher, Lee was considered a near top of the first round talent. Andy Seiler of MLB Bonus Baby had this to say about Lee as a pitcher:
He has the raw stuff of a potential number two starter, and that alone should make him desirable enough to be an early pick on draft day. His fastball is a potential plus offering, and he sits 91-93, touching 95, right now. He has room to add a couple ticks of velocity to that, and his mechanics are exceptionally clean, meaning scouts think he won’t get in the way of himself growing with his stuff. His breaking ball is an above-average to plus slider, and his changeup is also a potential above-average pitch, giving him three pitches to work with and projectability.
The Dodgers have until 9 p.m. tonight to sign Lee. Here are the top five reasons to ink Lee to a deal:
5) "Wait Until Next Year" is so yesteryear
If the Dodgers don't sign Lee, they will in fact get a compensatory pick next year, thought to be a deeper draft than this year. They will get essentially the 29th pick, one pick after the scheduled 28th pick, but the pick could be slightly lower depending on how many first-rounders go unsigned today. However, by waiting until next season, the Dodgers lose a year of development time for a first-round talent, which hurts a declining farm system.
4) Frank McCourt could use some goodwill
When the Dodgers drafted Lee, the prevailing thought was that the Dodgers punted the pick, having no intention to sign him because they didn't want to pay a first-round bonus. Admittedly, this is probably the weakest argument to sign Lee, as McCourt has been losing the public relations battle for some time, and frankly nothing he does is going to change that. McCourt could save a group of orphan children from disaster and would still get booed.
3) It's always fun to stick it to LSU
Lee is a highly regarded quarterback recruit for the Tigers, and anything that makes them squirm is okay by me. Then again, this may just be bitterness from USC having to split their 2003 national title with LSU.
2) The Dodgers could partially fund the Lee signing with a mini fire sale
The Dodgers are out of it this year, whether they realize it or not. They are 10 games behind in their division, and six and a half games out of the wild card. They have a few high-salaried veterans in the final year of their contracts -- Manny Ramirez and Hiroki Kuroda, to name a few -- that they could unload. Even if the Dodgers have to pay a good portion of their remaining salaries, any kind of relief would be welcome. A million dollars here and there could add up to most, if not all of Lee's signing bonus
1) Baseball is better than football
If Lee picks football over baseball, he will subject himself to a world of pain. In baseball, there are no other players trying to inflict physical harm. If he picks football, he won't start right away for LSU, and there is a good chance he might even red shirt for a season. At the very least, Lee's payday in football is a long way away, with a chance of not coming at all. If Lee chooses baseball, he gets to pocket somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million, if not more.
The deadline for Lee, and others, to sign is 9 p.m. tonight. Lee might be a long shot to sign, but I'm waiting to be pleasantly surprised.