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Deadline day for Nats draft pick Giolito

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Deadline day for Nats draft pick Giolito

It's been 40 days since the Nationals selected right-hander Lucas Giolito with the 16th overall pick in this year's draft, and not much about the relationship between the two has changed since then.

As is so often the case with baseball's draft, serious contract negotiations between player and club rarely takes place until the final hours before the league's imposed deadline. That deadline used to fall around Aug. 15, but the sport's latest collective bargaining agreement pushed that day up to mid-July, which has finally arrived.

Thus, by 5 p.m. EDT today, Giolito and the Nationals must come to terms on a contract and submit it to MLB headquarters or else sever their relationship. Giolito would accept his scholarship to UCLA and pitch next spring for the Bruins. The Nats would receive next summer's 17th overall draft pick as compensation.

That's an outcome neither side wants to reach, and the odds favor a deal being struck today before the deadline.

If anything, negotiations should be less complex now than they were in previous years. That's because in addition to the earlier deadline, the new CBA limits how much money each club can spend on signing bonuses for its top 10 draft picks. Teams that surpass that figure by a small amount are subject to a monetary fine. Teams that surpass the figure by a larger amount will lose future draft picks.

The Nationals, according to club sources, are not willing to incur any penalties in exchange for signing Giolito. Which means they can't offer him more than the roughly 2.8 million they have remaining from their original draft contract pool of 4.4 million.

Team officials believe that will be enough money to convince Giolito (who grew up in Southern California to a family full of actors and Hollywood producers) to sign. Mike Rizzo, who has successfully signed all six first-round and compensatory-round picks drafted by the Nationals since he took over as general manager in 2009, rarely drafts a player he doesn't believe he can sign.

Rizzo took a chance on Giolito -- who a year ago was projected to be one of the first players off the draft board but slipped to 16th due to questions about the state of his elbow -- but felt the pitcher's upside was worth the risk and had an inkling he would choose to sign instead of attending college.

Now the two sides must work out the precise terms of his contract by 5 p.m., hoping they can find common ground before MLB's deadline passes.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.