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Nationals Notes: The Nationals are one of several teams making last-minute pushes to sign their remaining draft picks by tomorrow's deadline, and there are several intriguing factors at work. The club had its regularly scheduled ownership meeting yesterday, and it's possible the baseball side of the club strongly pushed the ownership of the Lerner family for extra funds to land both key remaining picks, high school left-handers Josh Smoker and Jack McGeary.The other factor: Major League Baseball's owners' meetings begin today in Toronto, and they straddle tomorrow's 11:59 p.m. deadline for signing draft picks. There is pressure from the commissioner's office for teams not to sign players for "over slot" value, meaning paying more than MLB's recommendation for a certain pick.But with 12 unsigned first-rounders, several observers believe teams are involved in a large game of chicken, with none wanting to have to look the others in the eye and admit how much they paid to sign a key pick. The consensus is there will be a flood of signings immediately before the deadline -- with many over slot value. Yesterday, Atlanta signed the 14th overall pick, high school outfielder Jason Heyward, for $1.7 million, or $170,000 over his slot value, according to Baseball America.Both Smoker, taken 31st overall, and McGeary, selected in the sixth round, are considered by some to be first-round talents. Smoker is committed to Clemson, but said after the draft he wanted to sign professionally. McGeary has a strong commitment to Stanford -- the reason he fell in the draft -- but he did accept the Nationals' invitation to visit Washington earlier this month, when he and his family met with club officials and attended two games. . . .
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