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Tampa Bay Rays say it's "next to impossible" they'll sign LeVon Washington before deadline

17

August

Tampa Bay Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman said that with top pick LeVon Washington, he believes at this point it will be "next to impossible" for them to come to an agreement before tonight's midnight deadline.

Friedman said that talks between the Rays and Washington (whose agent is Scott Boras) picked up considerably the past 7-10 days. But in the end, the gap between what the Rays offered and what Washington wanted were too big to overcome.

And when it got to the point this afternoon where Washington - who is coming off shoulder surgery - would not be able to complete the physical process in time, the Rays realized it wasn't meant to be.

Friedman said he doesn't believe Washington, a Florida commitment, will attend Florida, but left that up to the outfielder to discuss. Washington could go to a junior college and re-enter the draft in a year.

"We put forth an offer that was consistent with late first round picks and, had the gap between us had been small,  I'd imagine there would be more conversations this morning and afternoon, Friedman said. "But we never got to a point where that was relevant. The fact he was coming off pretty significant shoulder surgery, the physical process was something very important to us. So when we got to noon today it became pretty clear to us this was a situation we wouldn't be able to resolve."

In the case of second-round pick SS Kenny Diekroeger, it was a completely different situation. Diekroeger has said all along he was a strong Stanford commitment, and although scouting director R.J. Harrison said they put a nice "sales job" on him, and have a great relationship with the family, it was more of a life decision than anything else.

Friedman said "money really never came up with Kenny," that they thought it'd be worth the risk to try to get "first-round talent," even though it'd be an uphill battle, with the worst case scenario they'd get similar compensation for the pick next year.

"Money never really even came up with Kenny - it was about making a life choice and if pro ball was that decision, we would have engaged on money but it never got to that point," Friedman said. "He had some strong convictions going into the draft and wavered some, but ultimately decided that was the best thing for him."

Friedman said while there was a level of frustration and disappointment in not signing all their picks, the Rays were really excited about their draft - specifically their other top-10 picks like C Luke Bailey, 1B Jeff Malm and Todd Glaesmann.

"We feel like we came aawy with four of the top 60-70 players in the country, and we only had one pick in that time period," Friedman said. "So we were very aggressive in the players we liked a lot that slipped a little bit due to signability and our scouts did a tremendous job of continuing to scout them and work the process and ultimately we were able to reach agreement with four players that we're really excited about adding."

-- JOE SMITH

joesmith@sptimes.com

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:50am]

    

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