Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stephen Strasburg Still Without Contract

Stephen Strasburg, the pitching phenom from San Diego State, remains unsigned with just a few days left until the deadline. This was expected. The Nationals did not want a long negotiation to drive the price up but we are now entering crunch time. It is in Strasburg’s best interest to sign and it is in the National’s best interest to sign Strasburg. The X-Factor is agent Scott Boras.

Why Should Strasburg Sign? Strasburg is a flamethrower. And flamethrowers burn out. It’s in the definition, somewhere towards the back I think. He could go back to school or play independent ball. This is where I tend to get lost in the math. How could it make more financial sense to not sign that first contract and get the clock ticking so that you can hit free agency for the real pay day? Mark Prior was huge coming out of school and still got around a $10 million contract. Is Strasburg viewed as being five times as valuable as Prior was then? Nope. And at the time Prior was praised because his delivery would not lead to arm problems. Wrong, but it led to how he was valued at the time. I have not heard the same sentiment about Strasburg. He will probably be offered around $15-$20 million, doubling up Prior, and he should take it.

Why the Should the Nationals Sign Strasburg? Because he is supposed to be the best? The Nationals knew what Strasburg/Boras would be looking for in terms of a contract when they drafted him. It would have been by no means the first time that the best player in the draft would be passed over for a more affordable option. But they took him so they should probably finish it. Generally speaking, the Nationals don’t give their fans a whole lot to come out to the park to see. The Dmitri Young Renaissance in 2007 was nice, but Strasburg could be an even bigger deal in DC (hard to imagine). Speaking of Young, he was given a 2 year $10M extension for his work in 2007 so the Nats aren’t that tight on money.

What is Boras up to? Boras is trying to get Strasburg the most money he can. This is what Strasburg is paying Boras to do, so that checks out. The problem is that I don’t see how Strasburg is going to make more money in next year’s draft. So he should sign now. Obviously the Nationals want to sign him but know that Strasburg does too. However, if Strasburg were not to sign and re-enter the draft, that scenario would help Boras in his negotiations with future top rated college and high school prospects. The team will know that Boras is willing to let his client go unsigned. He may do that if he feels the memory of Philadelphia’s selection of JD Drew is fading. JD Drew signed a contract with the Dodgers (opting out two years into it) and the Red Sox that were both worth more than $10M per season. He would have been able to get one more of those if he had a year earlier. Once again, we see that skipping a year does not pay.

What should the Nationals do once if they Sign Strasburg? They probably shouldn’t let him pitch this year, at least for the big league team. However, next year if he looks good in spring training, I’d bring him up. I’m just never sure how many bullets a guy that throws that hard has, so they might as well be shot at the big league level. It will also boost attendance significantly when he does pitch. Now all the Nats need to do is get the first pick again and draft/sign Bryce Harper, a likely Scott Boras client…

1 comment:

GoodPointJoe said...

I think maybe Boras overestimates the fans' response towards their team if the drafted players don't sign. Public outcry against team ownerships will only happen if people start watching college and high school baseball in record numbers. That's not likely to happen, so you won't have a situation like in football where fans will say, "I saw Reggie Bush in college, that dude was sick, you gotta sign him!" Strasburg is the most highly touted baseball prospect in years, and fans still don't really care.

As a Washington native, I hope things get worked out. But if not, I won't blame the Nationals.

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