As you've probably read by now, the Dodgers used their first round selection in tonight's draft on Zach Lee. Lee is a talented young high school pitcher with good velocity and impressive feel for his off-speed stuff. Lee is a tremendous athlete overall, and that's the problem: he has a two-sport scholarship to LSU, where he would man the mound and take snap under center for the Tigers. The price of persuading him to choose professional baseball is reportedly $5 million. While, because of the nature of his scholarship, his bonus can be spread out over several years, whether the Dodgers can sign him given their current financial situation is a big unknown.
It's entirely possible the Dodgers want to sign Lee and are willing to pay the price. After all, it even makes good sense--at a time where team spending might be restricted, the opportunity to pay for a player Lee's caliber over several years (rather than all at once) is a huge plus. This could really represent the best possible outcome. The Dodgers get the high-end talent that will cost even less this year than a slot pick. Given the club's current plight, Lee is a perfect fit.
There's also, of course, a more cynical interpretation. Skeptics might say the Dodgers took Lee because of his extravagant demands, rather than in spite of them. By setting themselves up to get in a losing battle with Lee's camp, the Dodgers might hope to get away with not paying a first round pick at all this season. And it wouldn't be a terrible baseball decision, either. If the Dodgers are unable to sign Lee, they will get an extra pick in next year's draft, widely considered to be loaded.
So for now, let's take a wait-and-see approach. Tonight, I'm optimistic. The Dodgers have the chance to spread the bonus over time and acquire another talented young arm. While the system is light on impact position players, the organization is relatively talent-rich in pitchers, which is never a bad thing. Earlier today, I practically begged the club to make a bold move and leverage the draft system in the team's favor. Tonight, from my perspective, there's a great chance they've done just that.
Kudos on step one, Logan. Now comes the hard part.
You can catch great coverage of Zach Lee, the player, at several other Dodgers sites, including Memories of Kevin Malone, True Blue LA, Vin Scully is my Homeboy, and Dodger Thoughts. Tony Jackson also has a piece up with some excellent quotes from Dodgers brass.