Lincoln, Neb. - It went down to the last minute, but did anyone expect anything less?
The Kansas City Royals and Major League Baseball have confirmed Nebraska 2011 football/baseball signee Bubba Starling has signed a professional baseball contract, electing to play pro baseball over being a college athlete. The deal is reportedly worth $7.5 million over three seasons and was finished just shortly before the 11 P.M. (CT) deadline.
"We are ecstatic and relieved to have this process behind us and have Bubba in the fold," said Dayton Moore, Royals' Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager. "I am extremely proud of J.J. Picollo, Lonnie Goldberg and the entire staff for the work they've done during these negotiations, not just in the Bubba Starling case, but all of the athletes we were able to sign on this very busy day. I'm also thrilled that we were able to come to an agreement with a fine young man from this area who put being a Royal among his priorities in this process. It's now time to get his professional playing career underway."
Rated by Fox Sports/Scout.com as a 4-star quarterback (10th overall) in the 2011 Class, Starling was drafted by the Royals with the 5th pick in June's MLB Draft. Starling worked out with the Huskers much of the summer before returning to Kansas late last week to make a decision.
Speaking to reporters Monday, Nebraska offensive coordinator Tim Beck said it would not affect the quarterback situation at all if Starling signed with the Royals.
"Everyone associated with our football program at Nebraska wishes Bubba nothing but the best in his future with the Kansas City Royals organization," coach Bo Pelini said on Monday night. "I know this decision has been very difficult for Bubba and his family, as it would be for anyone in his position. In the end, Bubba was in a win-win situation regardless of his choice, and we respect the decision he has made. I personally will root for Bubba in every game except when he plays against the Indians!"
Represented by Scott Boras, Starling and Kansas City had reportedly not talked in weeks, but talks heated up Monday's deadline was fast approaching.
On the football field, Starling was 33-4 as a starting high school quarterback, rushing for 2,417 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. On the diamond, Starling played for the 18-and-under Team USA last summer in the 2010 IBAF World Junior AAA Baseball Championships. In 19 games against some of the world's best amateurs, he hit .339/.474/.532 with three home runs and 12 RBIs.
"The term 'five-tool player' gets thrown around quite a bit. Bubba Starling has the potential to be in that exclusive club," said Scout.com National Baseball Expert Frankie Piliere. "He's not a five-tool player yet, as his hit tool needs refining at the professional level. But his raw power, speed, defensive abilities and arm all grade out near the top of the 20-80 scale. Patience will be required with his development, but the upside is as good as it gets."
Starling grew up a Royals fan during his childhood and stated before the draft it would be hard to not sign with them if drafted.
More to come from Big Red Report later.