Will the Nationals sign Stephen Strasburg?


The Washington Nationals have until Monday night to sign Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick in the MLB draft. Unfortunately for them, Strasburg’s agent is Scott Boras, who has already upped the Nationals offer to the largest for a draft pick in baseball history.

Since 1965, when the draft began, only one pitcher taken in the top 18 spots in the first round has ever won 200 or more games (Kevin Brown). All-time greats? There’s not one out of more than 300 such selections. Based on the history of high picks, Strasburg should be viewed as having a good chance to become a very good pitcher. But not more. No pitcher taken in the first four overall picks has ever won a Cy Young Award or made more than two all-star teams. Worst of all, major health concerns, such as the elbow surgery that top Nats prospect Jordan Zimmermann now needs, demonstrate the fragility of pitchers. Bid high. But beware. The No. 2 overall pick next year as compensation may be almost as good.

Strasburg can play somewhere next year — an independent league or, conceivably, Japan, though he might be poorly received there — then reenter the 2010 draft. Maybe his hometown Padres would get him. Maybe a better economy or a different owner would bring a better deal. Besides, he could avoid the Nats if he thinks they are a ship of fools.

I fail to realize why everyone thinks Stephen Strasburg is the answer to all the Nationals’ problems. The 21 year-old kid didn’t even play in the best division in college and has since had trouble reaching 100 mph on his fastball. One pitcher is not going to fix possibly the worst franchise in baseball. Before the Nationals sign any arm, they need to secure a solid batting order — you know, the guys that play every game. Granted he doesn’t get hurt and he wins each of his starts, Strasburg can win the Nationals around 35 games. Of course, that’s not going happen, and that is only a fifth of the regular season. Hey Nationals, instead of dumping over $20 million into the Strasburg/Boras campaign, if you really want a starting pitcher, why don’t you go after a guy who’s already established himself? Strasburg is not going to win you a World Series, nor is he going to produce a sea change in attendance. He is a such a small piece to the puzzle, I feel bad for the Nationals fans that see Strasburg as their great hope.

Get a good collection of hitters. Stop signing big bats (Adam Dunn) that can’t hit for average. Acquire some pitchers who have been in the league longer than half a season. And lastly, don’t let Scott Boras make a bigger joke out of your franchise than you already are.

Strasburg will more than likely sign with the Nationals. I think he wants to get in the majors as quickly as possible instead of farting around in another league.

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Will Scott Boras ruin the Major League Baseball Draft?


Well, Michael Rosenberg from Fox Sports thinks so. When the MLB Draft kicks off tomorrow, the Washington Nationals are expected to take top pitching prospect Stephen Strasburg from San Diego State University as the No. 1 pick. Unfortunately, his agent is evil mastermind Scott Boras who is already throwing out a ludicrous asking price.

Boras has floated a $50 million signing-bonus demand for Strasburg to the media. The number is absurd, of course, and Boras knows it, but he doesn’t care. By leaking the $50-million figure, Boras has created an artificially high starting point for negotiations — and keeps the Nationals from claiming they did not know Strasburg would be so expensive. Boras has already built public pressure on the Nationals to pay Stephen Strasburg a ton of money.

Major League Baseball needs a true slotting system — not just a ridiculous, unenforceable commissioner’s recommendation. It needs a system like the NBA, where the top pick is locked into a certain figure and the contract values diminish with each subsequent pick. The only way to get one is to negotiate it into the next collective bargaining agreement.

The draft is just the first domino. Consider: in recent years, the Detroit Tigers paid above the commissioner’s recommendation for draftees Cameron Maybin, Andrew Miller and Rick Porcello. Not long after, they sent Maybin and Miller to the Florida Marlins for a package that included Miguel Cabrera. If the Tigers had not paid above their slot, they probably would not have acquired one of the best hitters in the game.

The NFL Draft has a similar problem — signing bonuses for the top players have gotten so huge that nobody wants the top three or four picks. Those picks are supposed to be the most valuable commodity that any losing team has. Instead, they often become anchors.

The problem is worse in baseball, because at least bad NFL teams get some marketing juice out of the draft. Most baseball prospects don’t play in the majors for at least two years.

This should be a rare chance to give losing teams an advantage, but it isn’t. Teams routinely pass on superior talent because of signability concerns, and with the economy in the toilet, that may be worse than ever this year.

It is past time to take the draft out of Scott Boras’s hands.

Rosenberg couldn’t be more dead on. Baseball does need a slotting system like the NBA. It’s truly ridiculous for a college phenom to be offered a multi-year or multi-million dollar contract. Baseball players seem to be the most fickle of athletes. They can have an amazing year in their early twenties, then teeter off, then come back and perform amazingly in their late 30s. This is why the Rays and Dodgers deserve some respect for the way they’ve cultivated their teams. Neither organization offered their prospects big money out of the draft and instead monitored them closely in their farm system. The Nationals offering Strasburg a huge contract would be idiotic despite the current problems with their organization. Pitchers, more than any position, are more prone to career-ending injuries and young guns aren’t often able to continue pitching at a top level. Tim Lincecum is an exception while Fausto Carmona is not.

The Nationals should make the correct decision and give Strasburg a decent two-year contract that lets him develop in their farm system. If he performs well there against older players, then see how he does in the bigs. Young pitchers should have two successful consecutive seasons in the majors before they’re expected any significant arbitration. If the Nationals don’t want to follow this plan, then they should let another team take Strasburg’s (supposedly) huge contract.

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