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Lerners, Kasten and Rizzo Meet With Strasburg

This summer, while awaiting the start (or the delay) of his professional baseball career, Stephen Strasburg has played a lot of golf. He's visited relatives. He's maintained a daily workout routine. But also, just last week, he sat down for a face-to-face meeting with a group of leaders from the team now trying to sign him.

One week ago, according to a variety of industry and club sources, Washington Nationals managing principal owner Ted Lerner, principal owner Mark Lerner, president Stan Kasten and acting general manager Mike Rizzo traveled to California to meet with the pitcher, who was unaccompanied by his advisor, Scott Boras.

The meeting was first reported this morning by the Washington Times.

The Nationals have until midnight on Monday to sign Strasburg, the San Diego State right-hander they selected first overall in the June amateur draft.

The sit-down with Strasburg was an offshoot of negotiations that could end with the largest contract ever awarded to a draft pick.

For now, negotiations, according to one source involved, "are not acrimonious. Our differences may be philosophical, but they are not acrimonious."

Boras, who advises Strasburg, engendered some goodwill by allowing the Nationals to meet with the 21-year-old pitcher. Still, Boras and the Nationals have just three remaining full days to work out a deal. Boras has often likened Strasburg's value to that of Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Japanese pitcher who joined the Red Sox with a six-year, $52 million contract. Many in baseball believe that Strasburg could command a deal worth more than $20 million, which would more than double the record-setting contract given to Mark Prior, drafted by the Cubs in 2001.

By Chico Harlan  |  August 14, 2009; 2:06 PM ET
 
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Next: Lineups, And A Draft Pick Signing (No, Not That One)

Comments

Repost:

Adding to the reading material:

Jayson Stark's take:

Situation causing some concern

"Logically, we know how this ought to turn out. Our Rumblings pollsters surveyed 18 baseball men from across the sport -- a group that included agents, scouting directors, GMs and other baseball executives. All but two of them predicted Strasburg will sign with the Nationals, probably about 14 seconds before the deadline, and for far less than the absurd $50-million figure Boras has been floating for months. But most of those we surveyed admitted they're just guessing. And what we found was this: The closer these folks have followed these negotiations, the more dubious they are that this is going to have a happy ending."

Posted by: periculum | August 14, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Jayson Stark can intentionally place himself on the railbed in front of a 10 car Metro train.

Posted by: wahoo2x | August 14, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Double the record amount? Geeze are people ever greedy. I'd be happy with the major league minimum, which is more than 300k per year. It makes me extremely angry when somebody already making millions (or guaranteed millions in this case) holds out for a few more. Those athletes should be vilified and called out as what they are, greedy.

Posted by: futbolclif | August 14, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Nationals signed their 8th round draft pick, Roberto Perez, SS out of Puerto Rico. $150K bonus

Posted by: Brian_ | August 14, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

He's gonna try and get as much as he can and I partially don't blame him. I would be happy with $300K as well. But he's trying to take care of his future. He may never have this kind of leverage again in his life. If he blows out his arm, he's worth nothing. Zip. Game over.

I don't necessarily agree with it, but I understand it. I would get all that I could just in case I'm out of the sport in the next few years and have to work for $40K or $70K, which ain't a bad living either

Posted by: jmurray019 | August 14, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

This is more than the Hendricks allowed us to do with Crow.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | August 14, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Uncle Teddy, Markie Mark, StanK
vs.
Some pimply faced 22-year-old likely to blow out his arm represented by a greedy, two-faced slimeball of an agent.

Gotta take the high road: Going with SS and Boras on this one. Clean 'em out good, fellas. Don't forget to get those accounts in Switzerland, too.

Posted by: jdschulz50 | August 14, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

How is it that a guy from the times can get this story in way before you Chico? There are three days left in these negotiations and we should be hearing if whether or not Strasburg prefers iced tea to lemonade on hot summers.

That being said, if this kid gets more than 14 million, then as an organisation we simply aren't being taken seriously whatsoever.

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | August 14, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

This is more than the Hendricks allowed us to do with Crow.

Posted by: VelocityAtrocity | August 14, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse
----------------------------------------

The next time The Hendrick Bros' and Crow walk into the negotiating room with KC, this is the music that should be playing:

http://www.audiosparx.com/sa/summary/play.cfm/sound_iid.235003

Posted by: TimDz | August 14, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

Of course you'd play for the League minimum - which is $400K this year. I'm paying $220 to play 10 hardball games this fall. I'd play for the Nats for half that.

The problem with a statement like that - is of course we would, because we have no business being on an MLB field. If we did, we'd have leverage and we'd use that leverage to maximize the financial return on our rare and unique baseball skills.

Posted by: comish4lif | August 14, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Unaccompanied by Boras?

I had to read that a few times to make sure I got it right.

Posted by: JohninMpls | August 14, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Can you explain to me how does paying SS more than $14M indicate that we aren't being taken seriously?

Personally, I think this team takes the biggest PR hit by not signing him. I'd venture to say that paying him $50M would be better than not signing SS.

Posted by: comish4lif | August 14, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Nats strategy should be very simple - (1) Make an aggressive, but not over the top offer ($12 million) that would, on its face, top the highest ever offered (10.7 to Pryor) with wiggle room to bump it up a bit ($13 million). If SS passes, no one can say you didn't treat the guy fairly. If he's serious about playing, he'll bypass Boras's advice (a al Weiters) and sign. If not, so be it. There's no guarantee he's going to be the next R. Clemens. This team needs so much more than just one pitcher. Of course, knowing how SS operates, and that NJ was not a long-term solution, one wonders whether drafting the kid out of UNC would have made more sense (even though he too is a Boras client).

Posted by: terrapin31590us | August 14, 2009 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I find it mildly encouraging the Boras allowed the meeting,without him to take place. Twenty million should be the absolute ceiling for the deal to be done.
"Greed" "being greedy" is always in the eye of the beholder.

Sec 204 Row H Seat 7

Posted by: adhardwick | August 14, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

comish4lif good point, but the Nats shouldn't double the highest amount given to a draft pick for Strasburg. Zimmermann just went down with arm problems and Mark Prior had nothing but arm problems as a #1 overall pick.

Nice bonus but not a record would be the way to go......

Posted by: punchdaclock | August 14, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I am ignorant as to acceptable and unacceptable clauses in MLB contracts. To what extent can the Nats add incentives/conditional clauses? Can they cover things like health, performance, etc? For example can the Nats offer $12M for 5 years, plus $2M/yr if he's on the MLB roster, $1M if he pitches >100 innings, etc?

Posted by: ramgut | August 14, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

A crazy thought: Maybe the story about Strasburg having personal misgivings about a "rudderless" Nats organization was true and Boras wanted to give the rudders a chance to make their case to Strasburg, unfiltered, that they're firmly attached to the ship and steering it without crashing into the pier. (Too many nautical metaphors for me to continue).

Posted by: mojo6 | August 14, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

terrapin31590us is right on, imho.

Sure makes you appreciate a guy like Drew Storen who signs quickly, gets to work right away, and succeeds.

When he hits the majors, he'll definitely be one of my favorite Nats.

Posted by: derwink | August 14, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

"I'd venture to say that paying him $50M would be better than not signing SS."

I coughed on this one, as I am sure the Lerner's did as well. I am in the minority here by saying that paying a man who has never pitched in professional baseball 50 million is just stupid? Insanely stupid?

Compare this figure to what Zimmerman got for 5 years and tell me that SS deserves 50 million. Save your dollars for proven big league pitchers, save them for good middle infielders. Save them for signing the other members of the same draft class.
The reality is that Boras is actually not sitting in the cat bird seat with the three top picks. If the SS negotiations look to be unhinged then it squeezes him on the next two signings as well since SS will be the market setter. Unlike the Hendriks (who were jokes) Boras is able to sell himself to his clients by actually the delivering deals. An unsigned player is never good for the agent. The last thing I want to hear from the Lerners is that we can not sign anyone else because we gave all of our money to SS.

Posted by: driley | August 14, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

I do not blame a player for trying to get paid. If they were not getting paid this kind of money, the owners would simply be getting a higher profit margin. If I pay to go to a game (a rare occasion anymore) I would prefer my money to go to the people I'm paying to see, not the suits I never see.

Also, players have to hold out if they are going to get paid fairly for the value they bring because the draft system takes away any and all negotiating power they have. These players do not get to choose who they play for or where they play. They do not have the option of playing for a different employer if they are not happy in their current situation. They are stuck for at least 6 years. Imagine if you were told you could only choose to work for a single employer, you had to move wherever the employer told you to go without any consideration of your desires and you had to take whatever pay they wanted to give you. Your only other option is unemployment. I don't know about you, but I would do anything I could to influence that unfair situation in my favor too, including holding out for several months if it could possibly result in some concessions from the employer.

The fact that these players ask for millions, not hundreds of dollars (as I would be negotiating over in my job) is a testament to the money they bring in. Fans pay hundreds of dollars for a trip to the ball game. TV stations and advertisers pay millions to brodcast the games. They pay this money to the owners, but everybody is paying the money to watch the players. The player does not get any more money if he generates extra value, so he must do anything he can to get this cash up front. I do not have a problem with that.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 14, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

"These players do not get to choose who they play for or where they play. They do not have the option of playing for a different employer if they are not happy in their current situation. They are stuck for at least 6 years. Imagine if you were told you could only choose to work for a single employer, you had to move wherever the employer told you to go without any consideration of your desires and you had to take whatever pay they wanted to give you. Your only other option is unemployment."

This is too much for me. He doesn't have ONE employer on Earth he can work for. He can do anything he wants, including playing in leagues other than MLB (which, if they value his services as much, can pay) or not playing baseball at all. On top of that, if he does agree to enter the MLB system voluntarily, he gets collectively-bargained-for rights that are the envy of most employed people. Guaranteed minimum salary (which is $400K for MLB vets); even if he's fired for cause (ie, sucking), still gets paid; generous pension and benefits. And even though he can't leave until 6 years, he gets guaranteed sizeable raises in the later of those years, as set by a neutral arbitrator. So let's stop the fiction that these guys are serfs bound to the land. This isn't the 1960s anymore.

Posted by: cdstej | August 14, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@driley: Complaining that a player who's never pitched in the big leagues isn't worth $50M is a moot point. As Boras points out, the Red Sox erased that theory with Dice-K. As did the Yankees with any number of Cuban refugees over the last 15 years. The bottom line is the player IS worth it if the market will pay it. It already has.

Which gets to cdstej's point: whereas the Cubans and Dice-K had the freedom to shop their services, these college kids did not. Imagine a highly-touted physicist or computer programmer coming out of college. He fields highly lucrative offers from numerous companies in his industry. These athletes have no such freedom. I'm not saying they're doomed to a life of poverty -- the point is that they didn't create this jacked up system. MLB did. And even though they retain tremendous bargaining power AND an anti-trust exemption from Congress, they still complain about salaries. Salaries THEY created...

Posted by: outsider6 | August 14, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Woah, hold up a sec, MLB did not create this jacked up situation. The MLBPA did. remember the strike? It wasn't a lockout.

Posted by: swang30 | August 14, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Right... it was the players. The owners had NOTHING to do with it.

What was I thinking.

Though I don't think the Player's Association invented the draft. Seems like it pre-dates the union by a few years. The draft started in 1965. The union came along in 1968.

And it wasn't the MLBPA that signed A-Rod to a $250M contract. Pretty sure that was an owner.

Regardless, I'm pretty sure Stephen Strasburg had nothing to do with any of it.

Posted by: outsider6 | August 14, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Actually, he does. As soon as he signs that union doc and sends in his union dues, he's part of the union, and therefore the collective bargaining agreement that the union signed with the employers are in effect, his.

Posted by: swang30 | August 14, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Pitching is this team's major weakness(ya think?)soooooo do we tell S&B to go pound sand and go after free agents this offseason or do we offer the moon, given the list of blown out arms and broken dreams i say we play the free agent field and see what happens and what about A.Crow(KC) if they don't sign him do we get a shot or does he go back to the draft pool, and last but not least if Riggleman finishes above .500 is he a keeper or do we shop around for a new skipper?

Posted by: dargregmag | August 14, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

"if he does agree to enter the MLB system voluntarily, he gets collectively-bargained-for rights that are the envy of most employed people. "

Draft picks do not have the collectively bargained-for rights. They do not get union protection until they join MLBPA, which they are not eligable for until AFTER they make the major leagues. The draft was not collectively bargained, it was unilaterally imposed by the owners. Same as the "slotting" system that Selig tries to bully teams to stick to every year.

It's true that they can try other professions, but these players have been training to play baseball their whole lives. They are dedicated to improving their bodies and muscles as much as a doctor or lawyer are dedicated to training their minds; as much as an actor is dedicated to controlling and portraying the emotions of their character. MLB's draft situation analogous to saying an engineer that he/she can only work for a single engineering company, with no say in where he/she is located or how much he/she gets paid or who he/she works for. Sure, the engineer can change careers, if they are willing to throw out years of hard work and dedication to a specific field. The engineer can see other firms he/she would rather work for are out there, but he/she cannot becuase the owners unilaterally made up rules that completely ignored the interest of the engineer. This is not a situation I would want to be in if I were an engineer.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 14, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Let me add one point, I wouldn't pay SS $50M. But it's not my money.

If the Nats aren't willing to pay SS what he is asking for, they should Never have drafted him in the first place.

It would have been a sound strategy to draft Ackley (pass on Strasburg) and pour that remaining money into an established Free Agent pitcher.

But not now. They cannot waste the pick - and what I was trying to say - perceptionwise - the Nats would be better off paying SS $50M, in comparison to the PR hit that they take if SS walks away.

Posted by: comish4lif | August 14, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

the deal w/ SS will get done cause stan and the lerners hooked boros on the texiera deal. they fluffed up the bid for the yankees and put big $ in boros' pocket. the quid pro quo will be going relatively easy on them w/ the SS negotiations. all thats going on now is posturing. i'm sure SS wanted to be sure the ownership guys were serious about rebuilding the team and wernt a bunch of dopes. in the end, they will ink the guy late on monday in the 14M range that everyone expects.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | August 14, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

"Actually, he does. As soon as he signs that union doc and sends in his union dues, he's part of the union, and therefore the collective bargaining agreement that the union signed with the employers are in effect, his.

Posted by: swang30"

Again, SS cannot join the union or pay those dues yet. Only MLB players whose contracts have been purchased by the MLB team are part of the union. According to the MLBPA website, this is limited to the players on the 40 man roster of each team plus players on the DL for the major league team. It does not even include minor league players. Drafted players do NOT have any union protection.

Posted by: cheeseburger53 | August 14, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

"The engineer can see other firms he/she would rather work for are out there, but he/she cannot becuase the owners unilaterally made up rules that completely ignored the interest of the engineer. This is not a situation I would want to be in if I were an engineer."

Or he can watch helplessly while company's outsource his job to "technicians" from India who have neither his skills nor his training. Where even 10 guys are unable to match what one skilled engineer can do. Yet companies still consider hiring India Inc. a bargain?

Life is not fair for engineers as well. We have our own "Selig's". And in many cases they are far worst and unbelievably ignorant about what exactly comprises their or any system!!!


Posted by: periculum | August 14, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Just sign him. No excuses anymore. Most fans would sprint away from this franchise if they blow this one. Looks like what they have in the organization are a bunch of #4 and 5 starters (and that's the upside), so they don't need to be messing around with this opportunity.

Posted by: Brue | August 14, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

I say offer the good lad $15 million, say take it or leave it, we are your quickest path to the majors, look at our track record of getting draft picks to the Show shortly after they sign: Cordero, Zim, Detweiler.

Posted by: markfd | August 14, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

The Stephen Strasburg deal was done when the Nats agreed to be the "other team" in the Mark Teixeira negotiations last off season. That is when the backroom dealing was done. The asking price will go down so Borass looks good.

Posted by: Batboy05 | August 14, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Using Daisuke Matsuzaka as justification for paying Strasburg $50 million is really a stupid move by Boras. Matsuzaka has won exactly one game this season and is currently on the DL with a shoulder problem that may be serious.

Posted by: bupbups | August 14, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I have no problems with Boras asking for $100m for SS. That is his job. It doesn't make him a slime ball. I have no problems with the Nats paying it, if they so choose. On the other hand, I have no problems with the Nats saying "NOT IN THIS LIFETIME" either and offering him a little over "Pryor money."

He can go back in the draft, like Aaron Crow did, if he wants to, and try and get $50m next year.

This is the same kind of thing that happened with Juwan Howard when Richard Justice, then of the Washington Post, kept writing that it would take $100m to re-sign him. I remember at the time wondering if he must have been working for Howard's agent. After reading this for awhile the fans started to believe that it was market value and that Abe Pollin was cheap for not wanting to pay that much. Abe felt painted into a corner and instead of letting him go to Miami, felt he had to pay to keep the fans happy. A few years later when Howard was not playing to the level of the contract the same fans who were calling Abe cheap started booing Juwan, calling him greedy and questioning Abe's judgment.

Posted by: GoEagles | August 14, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

If the Nats were not interested in paying SS big bucks, why did they draft him. If we don't sign him, that will be two years in a row that we have not signed our first draft pick. This is incredible! to the Lerner's, please show the fans that you care. During the past four years, the Nats have grown progressively worse, and if SS doesn't sign, next year will be five years of going down hill.

Posted by: kelley4 | August 14, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

I've noticed that Aaron Crow is trying to stick it to the Royals - he wants $3,000,000 to sign. Aha, how our value has come down in the world! Perhaps this should be a warning to Boras

Posted by: GABinOdenton | August 14, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

pretty strong comments for a team with AAA starters and a Jaymie Moyer wannabe(Lannan)...... You wanna yell...YELL at Selig and Fehr who have the baseball draft all fxxxxx up......allowing vultures like Boras to exist not having a slotted salary structure.....and picks you cannot trade..............FYI..............ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote earlier this morning, in an article entitled, "Clock ticking on Strasburg negotiations", that "an official of one AL club" puts the odds at 50/50 of the Washington Nationals reaching an agreement with the number one overall pick in the '09 MLB draft, SDSU pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Mr. Stark's source claims to have based his opinion on what he/she's heard, "...from people who have spoken with Boras, about the negativity (he's) spewing about the Nationals..." over the fact that, in Mr. Stark's words:

"...the Nationals haven't budged at all off their initial offer, believed to be somewhere in the neighborhood of the $9.5 million package the Rangers gave to Mark Teixeira eight long years ago."

The other reasons that Boras is "spewing" negativity about the Nationals? According to ESPN.com's Mr. Stark:

# "...the Nationals are a lousy team with no fans and a bleak future."
# "...Strasburg has tremendous incentive not to sign..." (ed. note - "tremendous incentive = maybe going to SD in 2010 Draft.")

Posted by: unc1dmo | August 14, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

I have a friend who's uncle is living in San Diego area. This uncle's nephew is dating a girl who's sister has a friend who is waiting tables at the country club where SS & the Nats braintrust were meeting. She was working poolside but her boss said the waiter working the SS-Lerners table told the cook he overheard SS nodding yes to signing at 23M (plus car & condo).
So, to make this a reliable MSM report: "Anonymous sources say SS close to signing for 23M".
You heard it here first.

Posted by: 1stBaseCoach | August 14, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

But not now. They cannot waste the pick - and what I was trying to say - perceptionwise - the Nats would be better off paying SS $50M, in comparison to the PR hit that they take if SS walks away.
Posted by: comish4lif

They already signed their other 1st round pick. If SS would take less money to go somewhere else, since I don't see anybody else paying him $50m, then hasta la vista baby. As a fan, I only want those who want to come here. It's Ok by me if they break the bank but if they offer him 1 penny over the previous record, that is more than enough to keep me loyal to the Nats. They need to sign other players and they don't have Yankees or Red Sox money. We don't want to become the Orioles of some years ago.

If the Nats were not interested in paying SS big bucks, why did they draft him. If we don't sign him, that will be two years in a row that we have not signed our first draft pick. This is incredible! to the Lerner's, please show the fans that you care. During the past four years, the Nats have grown progressively worse, and if SS doesn't sign, next year will be five years of going down hill.
Posted by: kelley4

I think setting a record by offering him $11m would be paying him big bucks. The Nats got another first round pick for Aaron Crow and signed him for less than Crow was asking for. Aaron Crow got picked later than the #10 pick this year. I think despite their record the Nats have actually made progress in developing their young pitching.

Posted by: GoEagles | August 14, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The Redskins will finish with a 4-12 record.

It's time to say goodbye to Vincent Cerrato.

Too bad, Danny Snyder.

Maryland will finish with a 2-10 record.

Maryland's defensive line and linebacker corps are a joke --- no pass rush whatsoever and give up a ton of long yardage plays.

I have seen harder hitting teams in powder puff leagues.

The only hard hits the Terps make - are out of bound plays - which cost them an additional 15 yards - which are quite frequent.

California's running back - Best - will gain 296 yards in the opening game

I love it, when Maryland constantly gets embarrassed on national TV.

Prediction:

California -- 56
Maryland -- 10

It's hilarious to see Maryland win a game - and the very next week get clobbered by a Virginia Tech - Boston College.

It is great to see Maryland go down to a crushing defeat on recruiting front (the kids they have received commitments from - are a joke! - taking the bottom of the barrel)

Carolina Blue - Carolina WHITE - Go Tar Heels - Let's go Tar Heels !

Posted by: hclark1 | August 14, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

They're nuts if they give him anything like Dice K got - He's been average for what the Sox paid. Be smart like the Phightin Phils. They told the Jays to stick it with their outrageous offer and they ended up getting a Cy Young winner who's pitching like Cy Young. How much better is Halliday??? Not much if not at all. Lee's terrific and they got him without giving away the farm. Tell Borasbadunuf to go jump up JD Boo's butt. Make a very good offer and if he doesn't take it tell him to get used Iowa or wherever the Independent league plays.

Posted by: billm32 | August 14, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

So if the Lerners, Kasten, and Rizzo were meeting with Strasburg without Boras then the deal is set with Strasburg getting a penthouse at the Willard overlooking the White house with unlimited room service for twenty years...I doubt if they wait until Monday to announce it...

Posted by: bromisky | August 14, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

maybe this is just me, but I think hclark is a bot.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | August 14, 2009 11:27 PM | Report abuse

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