One more piece falls into place on the Matt Purke saga.
The sides had agreed before the draft to a $6 million deal, well above the slot money for the No. 14 overall pick, and owner Tom Hicks gave his approval.
That was in June. By July, Major League Baseball was overseeing the Rangers’ finances and had the final say on all transactions beyond what had been budgeted.
When the Aug. 17 deadline to sign Purke arrived, the commissioner’s office wasn’t going to budge.
So there you go. You can blame Ryan, or Bud Selig, or both, for Purke not being signed. But the Rangers drafted him intending to give him $6 million, and agreed to pay Purke that amount before the draft.
There was a lot of heat and drama surrounding the non-sign. Jon Daniels and (to a much lesser extent) Nolan Ryan were ripped for taking a guy they couldn't sign, and a few folks implied that the Rangers only took Purke because they didn't plan on signing him and wanted to simply save on the signing bonus.
Then you had folks, including an embarrassing number of people here, cursing Purke, wishing him ill, saying that they hoped his arm fell off. I asked people not to, and that stirred up a big fight.
You had Jamey's comment about Purke buying a Horned Frog hoodie and purple sanitary socks, which prompted a broadside by Randy Galloway, who apparently read that as Jamey taking a shot at Purke and accusing him of being Hicks' mouthpiece, a rather remarkable clash between a titan of the local old media, sports division, and the godfather of the local new media, Rangers division.
It was a very charged, very emotional, and ultimately very disappointing sequence of events.
But at the end of the day, I have to say, I can't kill Matt Purke for passing. He made a deal with Nolan Ryan for $6 million, and Ryan, by all accounts an individual with a great deal of pride and sense of integrity, could not honor that deal because of events and people outside of his control. I can't kill the guy for saying, I'm not going to agree to sign for $4 million when you agreed two months ago to give me $6 million.
And I'd wager that, come 2011, when Purke is a draft-eligible sophomore, if he's there on the board when the Rangers pick, the Rangers will take him, and Nolan will see that Purke gets signed.