OK, so the Nats and Phillies have split a pair a Citizens Bank Park. The real action, however, is taking place in the inner sanctum of the Nationals' executive offices.
Monday at midnight marks the deadline to sign selections in the June amateur draft. It's the same old song and dance we get every season at this time, with negotiations going down to the 11th hour or beyond. It's not just the Nationals; as this is written, only 10 of the overall 33 first-round picks have signed (or agreed to terms). Nats general manager Mike Rizzo has stated his optimism regarding getting the top guys signed, but there's always that sense of uncertainly we'll get around dinnertime Monday.
Baseball seriously needs to change the system. Begin by moving the signing deadline up by at least a month, to July 15. Then, allow players drafted - and signed - by the deadline to be traded, if the right offer comes along, rather than making clubs wait a year before trading a drafted player. That would certainly spice up the July 31 non-waiver trading deadline, and we already see it done in other sports all the time.
I would also entertain the idea of drafting fewer rounds. Years ago, teams drafted until everyone passed. One year, the Houston Astros drafted 100 players, though they didn't sign everyone they drafted. These days, there are 50 rounds, though because of compensatory picks, more than 1,500 players are selected. This year, 27 players were taken in the supplemental round that followed the first round, and to date, 14 of those young men have agreed to terms.
The Nationals' 2011 draft class received high marks from various draft gurus for names like Anthony Rendon, Alex Meyer and Matt Purke, but the club hasn't signed any of those guys. They have signed their fifth- through 12th-round picks, and 24 of their picks overall. Some they won't sign and still others will wait for another draft in hopes of improving their status. The bigger names will hopefully see what lies ahead in Washington, and get their careers under way.
The clock is ticking.