As they continue to tear down their 2021 roster in the final hours leading up to today's trade deadline, the Nationals took a key step in their quest to rebuild the franchise back up in the coming years, agreeing to a deal with recent first-round draft pick Brady House.
The agreement, first reported by Baseball America and confirmed by a source familiar with the signing, is for $5 million, which is more than $450,000 above the designated slot value for the 11th overall pick.
House, 18, instantly becomes one the highest-rated prospects in a Nationals farm system that ranked last in the majors entering 2021 but should rise considerably now following the influx of acquisitions general manager Mike Rizzo is making at the trade deadline.
A shortstop from Winder-Barrow High School in Georgia, House was considered among the best power-hitting prospects in this year's draft class, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound physical specimen who may outgrow the shortstop position but is still seen by organizational scouts as at least a future big league third baseman.
Owner of a .549 batting average, 52 runs scored, eight homers and 20 RBIs during his senior season at Winder-Barrow, House had committed to play collegiately at Tennessee next season. He did say on draft night, though, he expected to sign with the Nationals, provided negotiations worked out.
The deadline to complete a deal is Sunday, and House has agreed to his with two days to spare.
The Nationals desperately need House to pan out, building their long-term vision on the development of high draft picks into stars, something that hasn't been the case for the franchise in a decade. After an impressive run that saw the likes of Ryan Zimmerman, Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon all become All-Stars who earned nine-figure contracts, the Nats haven't had a first-round pick develop into even a consistently effective big leaguer for them since (though Lucas Giolito blossomed into an ace with the White Sox after he was part of a blockbuster trade for Adam Eaton).
With other recent first-round picks Carter Kieboom, Seth Romero, Mason Denaburg and Jackson Rutledge having either struggled on the field or dealt with injuries (or, in some cases, both), the Nationals are hoping they hit paydirt on House and 2020 first-round pick Cade Cavalli, who dominated in his professional debut at high Single-A Wilmington and is now pitching at Double-A Harrisburg.