On Thursday afternoon, more than two years after his first major league contract was nixed by Major League Baseball, Matt Purke finally put on a big-league uniform. It wasn't how the Nationals' third-round pick expected to do it, but he's a professional at last.
The TCU left-hander was selected with the 14th pick in the 2009 draft and had agreed to a $6 million deal with the Rangers that year. But MLB, who was loaning the Rangers money to make payroll at the time, nixed the deal, which was well over baseball's slotting recommendations for draft picks.
Purke went back into the draft this year, but his status as a potential first-rounder was marred by concerns over his shoulder (it turned out he had bursitis, not a serious structural injury) and his signability. He slipped to the Nationals in the third round, but got a major league deal from the team on Monday night.
He was introduced at Nationals Park on Thursday afternoon, bringing his family to tour the park. Former Nationals president Stan Kasten set up a phone call between Purke and his idol, future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine.
"When I did my college recruiting, I took a lot of visits and went to a lot of places," Purke said. "When I got to TCU, I kind of felt a sense of, 'This is home. This is where I can call home. I can fit in with these people and be a part of this group.' Throughout the days that I was here before the All-Star break, I got the same similar feeling."
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