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Just wanted to chime in here on the subject of Stephen Strasburg, the San Diego State right-hander who has been pegged as the probable No. 1 overall draft pick next June -- a pick held, of course, by the Nationals. Speculation is rampant as to the meaning of the San Diego Union-Tribune story, which Tracee linked to below.

Just to be clear: As we stand here today, nearly six months away from the draft, Strasburg remains the top name on the Nationals' draft board. When I asked a team official about this recently, I was told they consider Strasburg by far the best player in the nation, and for the Nationals to pass on him would take something extraordinary to happen, such as a major injury.

As for the signability issue -- it's fair game for speculation, given the Nationals' track record, or lack thereof, for spending big money. But I believe team officials are acutely aware of the importance of this pick -- let's face it: no storyline is likely to be more important for the franchise in 2009 -- and they understand the fan revolt that would occur if they fail to get the draftee signed.

And one other thing: The Nationals almost certainly have a better relationship now with Scott Boras, Strasburg's agent, than they did a couple of months ago, owing to the Mark Teixeira negotiations. Whether or not you believe the Nationals ever had a legitimate chance at signing Teixeira, there is no question their major initial offer helped Boras get Teixeira the monster deal he wound up getting from the Yankees, and Boras was effusive in his praise of Ted Lerner. When they sit down across the table from each other again, there ought to be a good vibe, if nothing else.

By Dave Sheinin  |  January 19, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
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Do baseball teams have the opportunity to negotiate a deal for the first pick prior to the draft like NFL teams do?

Posted by: natbisquit | January 19, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Probably not - a lot of the kids in the Baseball draft are still "in season" and playing at the time of the draft.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Does anyone else smell the faint sulfur scent of Boras letting the Nat's know that they are in a negotiation, and he has other options.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 19, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but at least with Boras you know you're dealing with the Devil Incarnate, not just some evil wannabe.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Again, for those not paying attention (you Shinen)

The Nats were in the top 5 in draft spending in 2007.

2008 draft -- everyone remembers Crow but the 2nd 3rd 4th 5th and 15th round picks all got above slot bonuses. And if Crow turned his nose up at a larger signing bonus than the #4 overall pick got, what can you do.

As for negotiating before the draft, the guy has an agent doesn't he? I think Boras is just an "adviser". I'm sure they could work out a deal at any time. It may not be totally above board but . . .

If you are looking for a place where the Nats might be looking at the bottom line, how about that 10th pick? They might figure with such a large signing bonus for the #1 guy, they better draft for sign ability rather than talent at #10. The same goes for the top pick in round 2 (unless they sacrifice that pick by signing a Type A FA).

Posted by: traderkirk | January 19, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Are there enough fans left to revolt?

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | January 19, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

What was the dialogue from The Devil's Advocate - Keanu: "Are we negotiating now?" Pacino: "Always".

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse


The Nationals current 40-man salary obligation is somewhere between $57-$62M for 2009. How much will they allocate to the 2009 draft; $25M, $30M? I'd personally like to see them sign between 60-70% of their 51 picks, but that might be a little optimistic.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Here are some cherry-picked facts to consider along with traderkirk's cherry-picked facts:
--the Nationals final offer to Crow of 3.5 mil was no more than the 11th pick Justin Smoak got.
--In 2 of 3 years since the Lerners bought the team, the highest drafted unsigned players were both Nationals draftees--Crow and Sean Black.
--500k in baseball is chump change.

Posted by: sbiel2 | January 19, 2009 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for doing the journalist bit Dave, good to hear that ownership is on the same page as us, in this regard at least.

Are Strasburg, the player - not the French city, updates going to be here or over at BI? Are there going to be draft updates? (I'm thinking more in March-April-May, not now)

Thanks for the updates!

Posted by: NattyDelite | January 19, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

The bottom line....with Boras you spell vibe M O N E Y, and lots of it.

Posted by: cokedispatch | January 19, 2009 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Which is why Satan wears 'Scott Boras Pajamas'.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 19, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Why are some people still on the Nats' case about Crow - the dude wanted the money more than he wanted to play. It's plain and simple. It's the Lerner's money. If they don't want to give it to a clown, so be it. My feeling is that they shouldn't have picked him in the first place - the rumors were true! But you guys got to let this pass. In business, you've got to draw a line somewhere.

Strasburg, now that will be interesting. Surely the Nats will take him - and will probably give him what he wants. What did the #1 guy, Beckham, get last year? 6 mil? To control a player for four years? That's chump change.

BTW, I love how Google makes me sound like I know what I am talking about ;-)

Posted by: CajunD | January 19, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Some people just don't let it go that easily (re: Crow). I agree, let's just move along.
On Strasburg, unless (as Sheinen alludes to), he gets injured, he's the odds-on favorite as the #1 pick. If he still rates there, the Nationals HAVE to take him, and be ready to pony up the $8-$10M that will get him under contract & into the MiL system.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

We had to put put our foot down at some point, or the Nat's would be seen as a soft touch. Everyone knows it had to happen, people were always going to get upset when it eventually happened.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 19, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse


Rumours abound that the Devil sleeps "au naturale", but has multiple sets of Scott Boras bedware.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse


2008 wasn't the Nationals 'putting their foot down' as much as it was the brothers' Hendricks playing chicken with their client - in the end, both sides lost.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse


Is $8-$10M really that much? I know he isn't proven, and there is some risk - but he's not out of high school (like Beckham was). He's got College and Olympic experience, and most likely WBC in March. Lots of time to get an idea of how he can perform against MLB hitters. That's $10M for 4 years of control. I know a few other position players at that price that are more risky. Some even play for the Nats ;-)

My point is that the Lerners' have demonstrated that they are not afraid of writing big checks. In the case of Tex, money didn't matter - they wanted him. And in this case, money shouldn't matter either. It's almost as if the signing bonus is irrelevant - especially if you do the math for AAV.

Something that occurred to me (this is the wishful thinking of an off season Saints' fan), if all these guys start to pan out, and the Nats actually do become successful with all these young players, they could have a monster on their hands with all those high salary demands when the time comes. What do you think RZimm going to want after his stellar 2009?

Posted by: CajunD | January 19, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I also understand that the Devil has a Scott Boras shrine that he genuflects before twice a day.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Let's not forget BinM, that when Satan brushes his teeth (twice a day!) with his customized Scott Boras bobblehead toothbrush!

Posted by: NattyDelite | January 19, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse


It isn't my $$$ (at least, not all of it), but $8-10M over five (not just 4) years for Strasburg might be reasonable. I thought I'd conveyed that opinion previously.
Regarding RZimm - I hope the Nationals can strike some kind of deal with him & his agent for an extension this year (5 yr+, for say $46M)?

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

And when he berates his minions, he asks them "why can't you be more Scott-like"?

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@ BinM

And when he's making love to Mrs. Satan she complains "were you thinking of Scott Boras again?"

Sorry NJ, please don't take my ID away.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 19, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

@BinM: Why does everyone clamour to sign Zimmerman to a long term deal? He has not proven that he's worth those numbers. He's a fan favorite really because of team marketing (not much else to market). He's really not shown that he's going be be anything more than a good player.

Back on topic. Not signing Strasburg wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would certainly seal the deal that the Nats aren't going to be a top-tier revenue team. Also, keep in mind that John Patterson made huge bonus numbers and was highly touted young pitcher of the future when he came out. Drafting high a pitcher is a bit of a dice roll.

Posted by: Maximus3 | January 19, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Being a BYU fan and living in Idaho, I got a chance to see Strasburg pitch a couple of times (San Diego State is in the Mountain West)

He's the real deal, and unless something unusual happens, he should be in the Nationals' rotation come next September.

Yes, he's going to cost $8-10 million to sign. No he's not worth it. But because the team has pinched penny's since the Lerner's bought the team, they can afford to overspend now.

A 2010 rotation of Scott Olsen, John Lannan, Steven Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler or Jack McGeary or Colin Martis or Shairon Martis (etc.) looks very good to me.

Posted by: rushfari | January 19, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Ahhhh ... thinking about Strasburg becoming our own Josh Beckett ... it's like having your own personal little fanfest.

(Thinking that Strasburg and Crow might have become our ... nah ....)

Posted by: BobLHead | January 19, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I take it no one wants to hear the odds of a pre-draft pitcher making it to the bigs. Any pitcher.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 19, 2009 4:57 PM | Report abuse

New post from Harlan, this time. It's like today is a holiday ...

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 19, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

You are exposed as as my mortal enemy (U of U here, born & raised in SLC) on all other things, except baseball. I'm on board with Strasberg at #1, unless something horrible happens.

Posted by: BinM | January 19, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Strasburg is different from Crow.

Crow is a solid blue chip prospect.

Strasburg is a potential generation pitcher that could make the big league roster out of camp as Mike Mussina did in Baltimore in 1990 and be a staff ace for 10 years.

This pick as the article notes is MUCH more important to the fortunes of the club going forward than last year's pick for Crow, although it would have been nice to see the club select a player that was actually willing to sign here.

From his interviews after the process, Crow indicated he was never really interested in coming to Washington in the first place.

You would have thought the Nationals would have scouted their player better than they did.

If I were the GM I would want to know that the player I am selecting that high WANTS to come in and take on the challenge of being the STAFF ACE on a major league roster rather than just signing with a contending club and riding the bench or being in AAA for 2-3 years.

Posted by: leopard09 | January 20, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

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