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LSU football coach says Dodgers' first-round pick Zach Lee has no intention of signing

Jun 9, 2010, 11:44 AM EDT

When the Dodgers selected Texas high school pitcher and LSU-bound quarterback recruit Zach Lee with the 28th overall pick Monday night there was immediate speculation that they did so because he’s considered unsignable.
With owner Frank McCourt going through an ugly divorce the idea is that the Dodgers could take a compensation pick for failing to sign Lee and delay the investment of first-round money until next year.
Assistant general manager and draft boss Logan White denied those claims, saying the Dodgers have every intention of making a legitimate effort to sign Lee, but yesterday LSU football coach Les Miles issued a statement saying Lee has zero intention of signing:

Zach wants to come to LSU, get a degree and play football and baseball for the Tigers. I met with Zach and his parents today, and I think that they are looking at LSU as a great opportunity both academically and athletically. Zach is an outstanding student, and he’s excited about the college experience.

Miles added that Lee has enrolled in summer school, which would certainly seem odd for someone planning to sign for millions of dollars and begin playing pro baseball soon. It’s tough to blame White and the Dodgers for not fessing up to their plans, because surely MLB would frown on such behavior being laid out publicly, but for now at least what’s going on seems pretty clear.
Lee will play football (and baseball) at LSU, the Dodgers will save a couple million bucks this year, and they’ll get the No. 29 overall pick in next June’s draft as compensation for failing to sign a guy who everyone knew wasn’t going to sign.

  1. JoeT - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    Big deal, sounds like a win, win, situation for the Dodgers. You win if you sign him and if you don’t you get your draft pick back next year. How many 28th round picks actually make it to the bigs. Most players take years to develop and it’s a crap shoot if they do. Sounds like a smart gamble for the Dodgers. Go big or go home.

  2. RobRob - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:28 PM

    Why is he even in the draft, then?

  3. Jay - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    I think its 28th overall not the 28th round pick.

  4. okobojicat - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    you fail at reading. its not 28th round. its the 28th pick. In the first round.
    .
    This kid is a top 10 talent, and possibly a top 5 talent most years but because he wants to play college ball he wasn’t going to get drafted.
    .
    I think that the Dodgers should absolutely have the ability to do this and I don’t begrudge them for it. However, we can still point out that they are lying.

  5. Jeremy - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Um, he was the 28th pick overall (i.e. near the end of the first round), not a 28th round pick.
    That aside, you could argue that the pick makes baseball sense as a potentially high-reward move, given that Bell was widely regarded as a top-15 talent who fell to #28 because of his signability issues. But to get that reward, you’ve got to sign him. And the downside risk that Bell doesn’t sign is only partially mitigated by the compensation pick. If he doesn’t sign, the Dodgers don’t have a first-round talent entering their system this year. And next year they’re going to need to pick a signable kid or they’ll lose the pick entirely, which might mean picking a kid who’s a bit of a reach. I agree with Aaron, this is likely a way for the Dodgers to save a bit of cash this year.

  6. Joey B - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    This cuts both ways. I wondered last year if some teams might’ve low-balled their draft picks because they felt their particular slot didn’t offer good value. It probably doesn’t matter too much at the lower levels with lower slot variability, but just like the NFL, at the higher rounds, the money difference between 4 and 5 might be negligible, while the talent dropoff could be significant. A team could well want to defer, say a #15, from 2010 to 2011 if they like that class better.
    OTOH, whomever they take next year will have the LAD’ backs against the wall. You cannot carry that type of deferral past one year. They’ll get their #29 next year, but it is use it or lose it. That aspect might’ve warranted a mention in the article.

  7. MattD - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    JoeT, not 28th Round, 28th in the first round

  8. PrestonM - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:49 PM

    Ross Jones 1980, Dave Anderson 1981, Franklin Stubbs 1982, Eric Sonberg 1983, Dennis Livingston 1984, Chris Gwynn 1985, Mike White 1986, Dan Opperman 1987, Bill Bene 1988, Kiki Jones 1989, Tom Goodwin 1989, Jamie McAndrew 1989, Ron Walden 1990, Ryan Luzinski 1992, Michael Moore 1992, and I could go on and on. These are former first round draft picks of the LA Dodgers. In the 45 years of the Drafts existence there have been only 12 players taken by the Dodgers in the first round that have been better than average MLB players. Of those taken in the first round in the last 15 years by the Dodgers only four are on big league teams.

  9. PrestonM - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    Ross Jones 1980, Dave Anderson 1981, Franklin Stubbs 1982, Eric Sonberg 1983, Dennis Livingston 1984, Chris Gwynn 1985, Mike White 1986, Dan Opperman 1987, Bill Bene 1988, Kiki Jones 1989, Tom Goodwin 1989, Jamie McAndrew 1989, Ron Walden 1990, Ryan Luzinski 1992, Michael Moore 1992, and I could go on and on. These are former first round draft picks of the LA Dodgers. In the 45 years of the Drafts existence there have been only 12 players taken by the Dodgers in the first round that have been better than average MLB players. Of those taken in the first round in the last 15 years by the Dodgers only four are on big league teams.

  10. JoeT - Jun 9, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    Right, right, 28th pick not 28th round. Since the drafts inception in 1965 only 12 Dodger’s first round picks have made much of an impression in MLB, Bobby Valentine 1968, Rick Rhoden 1971, Rick Sutcliffe 1974, Mark Sciosa 1976, Bob Welch 1977, Steve Howe 1979, Darren Driefort 1993, Paul Konerko 1994, James Loney 2002, Chad Billingsly 2003, Blake DeWitt 2004, Clayton Kershaw 2006.

  11. Jamie - Jun 9, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    How tight is the money situation in LA when they can’t even afford a “signability” pick in the first round? I think slot money at #28 is like $1 mil. My takeaway: Frank McCourt does not have $1 million. Dodger fans should probably not expect much at the trade deadline this year.

  12. David James - Jun 9, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Who is Bell?

  13. scatterbrian - Jun 9, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Logan White is full of shit. The Dodgers selected a guy they knew they couldn’t sign. I read more than one source (I think Keith Law was one of them, for sure Gammons) that the Dodgers were going to punt their first round pick because McCourt didn’t want the investment. Same reason he didn’t offer arb to Wolf and Hudson; he didn’t want the compensation picks if they signed elsewhere.
    This is what happens when teams can’t trade draft picks.

  14. JBerardi - Jun 9, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    Take a look at Logan White’s career. The guy absolutely loves drafting high school pitchers. I’m sure that he wants to sign Lee, I’m sure that he’ll try to sign Lee, and I’m sure he knows how unlikely that is to happen. But because of the way that Baseball has the draft set up now, what White is doing makes perfect sense. He’s not likely to get another chance to draft Lee, so by drafting him now, he either pulls off a miracle and gets the player he really wants, or if not, he gets a compensation pick in next year’s draft– which by the way looks to be much stronger than this year’s crop. Why wouldn’t he do that?

  15. JoeT - Jun 9, 2010 at 3:24 PM

    A repeat of David James post above, who is Bell.

  16. JBerardi - Jun 9, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    Again, the rules allow them to do this. Baseball made a decision that teams should be compensated for failing to sign a first round pick. If you make a system that can be gamed, people will game that system. White is just acting rationally based on the situation he is presented with. Why shouldn’t he?

  17. CharlieH - Jun 9, 2010 at 9:42 PM

    At this time the Dodgers are leading their division, have the best record in the National League and the third best record in all of MLB. Craig has them ranked 10th in his power rankings. Most last minute trades at the deadline usually suck, as do late first round draft picks.

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