It’s hard not to like Strasburg’s take on Harper’s signing decision

Washington Nationals' pitcher Stephen Strasburg pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the first inning at Nationals Park on on August 15, 2010.  UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

When the 22-year-old face of your franchise says things like, “If he doesn’t want to play here, then we don’t want him here,” it’s hard not to take a liking to him.

That comment was uttered by Stephen Strasburg when asked whether or not he had any advice for Bryce Harper – the Nationals’ No. 1 overall pick this year who has until Midnight tonight to agree to terms with the club.

Here’s Strasburg’s full quote, courtesy of Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post:

“I don’t have any advice for him,” Strasburg said. “It’s his decision. If he wants to play here, he’s going to play here. He doesn’t need advice from anyone to confirm his views. If he doesn’t want to play here, then we don’t want him here. That’s the bottom line.”

Granted, it’s a little easier for Strasburg to say that now that he’s comfortably viewing the situation from the inside looking out. A year ago, Strasburg and the Nationals went down to the final seconds of the 2009 deadline before agreeing to a record-breaking four-year, $15.1 million contract. He’s represented by Scott Boras, the same agent that represents Harper.

Strasburg knows that signing a contract is just business. He had talent that the Nationals wanted, so he and Boras made them pay for that talent. But the bottom line is that he eventually did sign, which is something the 17-yard-old Harper has yet to do.

By saying what he did, Strasburg has drawn a line in the sand for Harper: You’re either with us, or against us. Strasburg reminds us that even though financial matters are part of the business, the game of baseball still boils down to competing. Seeing as how Harper is going to be a rich man know matter what, the only question that remains is whether or not he wants to compete along with Strasburg and an up-and-coming Nationals club.

If he doesn’t, then here’s hoping that he can sleep tonight knowing that he passed up on millions of guaranteed money.

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