Top draft pick LeVon Washington, Tampa Bay Rays don't appear close to a deal

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August

The night he was a first-round draft pick, LeVon Washington said he couldn’t wait to sign and join the Rays.

Now two months later, with Monday’s midnight deadline approaching, it looks like he may let the opportunity, and the $1-million plus bonus that would come with it, pass.

The Rays chose high school players who had appealing college opportunities – known as “tough signs” - with six of their top 10 picks.

They’ve been in serious talks with five of them and are reportedly close to finalizing at least four deals (with the Nos. 3-4-5 and 9 picks) at bonuses expected to be in clear excess of the amount recommended by the commissioner’s office.

Several of the players are in the Tampa Bay area this weekend going through physical exams (No. 5 Jeff Malm and No. 9 Kevin James were at the Trop before Friday’s game), and the deals should be official soon.

The fact that talks with Washington – who is advised by typically hard-line agent Scott Boras – are not that far along is an apparent sign of trouble.

The Rays are believed to have been competitive in their offer based on what other players drafted before Washington, the 30th  pick, are getting.

It’s not unusual for these talks to go down to the deadline, and that is often the way Boras-driven negotiations go.

But an extensive physical exam, that can take the better part of two days, is part of the Ray's signing protocol. And with Washington coming off shoulder surgery, that part of the process is going to be even more important. So it seems safe to assume they are going to need to have a deal in place very soon to have time to complete the process before the Monday midnight deadline.

Plus, Boras is going to be busy on Sunday and Monday with a slightly bigger client, No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg, who is seeking a record deal from the Nationals, as well as four other unsigned picks ahead of Washington

The way it looks now, Washington - who said he was ready to sign the night of the draft - may be staying home in Gainesville and playing for the Gators.

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

    

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