After a month-long courtship, the Red Sox have their Groome.
According to multiple major league sources, Jason Groome, the team’s first-round selection (No. 12 overall), agreed to terms with the Red Sox in advance of Friday’s deadline to sign. The 17-year-old lefthander out of Barnegat (N.J.) High School received a $3.65 million bonus.
Earlier in the week, sources placed the Sox’ offer at “a tick above” $3.5 million, and the team upped that offer in subsequent days to the point where Groome was in Boston on Thursday for a physical.
Groome was viewed as one of the top pure talents in the draft, and in the eyes of some evaluators, the top talent in the draft. At 6 feet 6 inches and 220 pounds, he displayed not only a big league pitcher’s build but also electrifying stuff in the form of a fastball that tops out at 97 miles per hour and a swing-and-miss curveball that already grades as a plus major league offering. He inspired waves of scouts, scouting directors, and even general managers to watch him pitch in high school games.
Still, he slid to the No. 12 overall pick because of questions about his signability. As a 17-year-old who shifted his college commitment from Vanderbilt to Chipola Junior College in Florida, Groome positioned himself to re-enter the draft in 2017 if he didn’t get a bonus figure that he considered sufficient. According to major league sources, he was seeking a bonus at least commensurate with one of the top five slot recommendations in the draft. (Major League Baseball’s slot recommendation for the No. 5 overall pick was $4.4 million.) Some teams also believe there were off-field incidents that raised questions about his makeup.
Nonetheless, the Red Sox had considerable insight into Groome based on area scout Ray Fagnant’s time with him at last summer’s East Coast Pro Showcase, and several of Groome’s coaches have spoken highly of him.
And ultimately, the Red Sox believed Groome represented a talent too rare to pass.
Groome, meanwhile, seemed to look beyond any hesitation on the night he was drafted by his favorite team.
“It was a dream come true,” Groome said of being taken by the Red Sox on the night of the draft. “I’ve just taken them as my best team. Dustin Pedroia is my favorite player just because of his work ethic, and David Price, who I like to model myself after as well. It’s just awesome ending up with Boston. I couldn’t ask for a better team to go to. I’m so comfortable because they’re my favorite team. It’s just a dream come true.”
Now, with an agreement in place — pending a physical and the conclusion of standard pre-agreement protocols — that dream is set to take shape.
The Red Sox also agreed to terms with fourth-round pick Bobby Dalbec, a power-hitting third baseman who also starred on the mound for the University of Arizona in this year’s College World Series, for a $650,000 bonus. Fifth-round pick Mike Shawaryn, a righthander from the University of Maryland, agreed to terms for a $637,500 bonus.