PurkeLook, Ma! I just turned down 4 million bucks!

Matt Purke, your left arm better be a lightning bolt. It better pound the strike zone with biblical force, make fastballs hiss, and bats hide when it unleashes a prodigious fastball.

Because you just turned down four million dollars.

I can’t remember a time where this story ends well for the ballplayer. I can’t ever remember reading a headline that says, “Prep phenom reaps benefits of turning down millions to join college team.” It just doesn’t happen.

Purke, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound, 19-year-old left-handed pitcher just turned down a $4 million signing bonus with his hometown team and instead will play baseball for the Texas Christian Horned Frogs.

“I’m not going to sugar coat it: We wanted to sign the guy,” Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. “But it wasn’t meant to be.”

It wasn’t meant to be because Purke decided that he was worth far more than the $4 million offered to him as the 14th pick in the MLB draft. Now, he’ll enroll at TCU, where the number 47 waits hanging in his locker. The jersey number is a tribute to his pitching idol, Cy Young winner Tom Glavine. And for the sake of Purke, he better have the same kind of career that Glavine has or he’ll regret turning down the contract offer.

As the 14th overall pick, Major League Baseball recommended that his signing bonus be $1.6 million. Purke was looking for something five times that.

“I don’t have any issues with how they handled things,” Daniels said of the negotiations with Purke, his parents, and agent Peter Vescovo. “The communication was good. Both sides were clear in what we wanted to do. It just didn’t match up.”

Purke will head to college now, hoping to somehow improve his stock while pitching against much stiffer collegiate competition. And two years from now, he’ll be eligible again for the MLB draft as a 21-year-old sophomore. Yet by then, Major League Baseball and the Players Union will have already reopened collective bargaining, and one of the first things on the docket for ownership will be revamping the MLB Draft, and modeling it after the successful NBA system, where contracts and bonus are never haggled over.

In that case, Purke will have no shot of collecting a bonus anywhere near the amount he was holding out for, and most likely, not even close to the $4 million he was offered.

For Purke’s sake, I hope he’s making the right decision. But I’ve got a sinking feeling he isn’t.

2 Responses

  1. Could he not just have said, “I want to go to school to be BMOC, start an education, and hone my skills for MLB?”

  2. This kid is from Houston, not Dallas. Trust me, he does not consider the Rangers his hometown team if he’s a true Houstonian. But that being said I would’ve took the 4 mil.

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