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Kasten bracing for the Harper 'derby'

Nationals President Stan Kasten jokes that he is braced for the "Kentucky Derby process" that is the signing deadline, which is midnight Monday.

Negotiations with top pick Bryce Harper, a power-hitting outfielder, are likely to not intensify until the deadline looms, as they did last season with No. 1 choice Stephen Strasburg, who agreed to terms with 77 seconds left.

"You spend the whole year planning, preparing, jockeying, and then it's two minutes of action, it's over," Kasten told reporters Friday. "That's kind of what I'm expecting.

"The Kentucky Derby process is a silly one. That's why it needs to be changed. I think everyone believes that, on both sides ....I have no doubt it's going to be changed two years from now, no question about it. It's hard to tell a normal businessman that this is really how a big-time industry like ours runs. It's impossible to justify.

"The charade, the kabuki dance, the nature of all of this, is just kind of silly. We can do better as an industry, and I think both sides recognize that."

By Preston Williams  |  August 13, 2010; 6:40 PM ET
Categories:  Bryce Harper , Stephen Strasburg , draft  | Tags: Bryce Harper, Draft, Scott Boras, Stan Kasten  
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On this point, I think Kasten is right on target. There is little reason for agents / 'representatives' to only lay in wait for the final 48 hours before starting any kind of negotiation. One more reason why I hate the "Devil Incarnate" (Bore-a$$ Corp), since this is their standard strategy.

I actually hope the next CBA shortens the negotiating period at least a couple of weeks (to August 1), at the very least. That would allow draftees who sign some time in the minors in their draft year. It might result in fewer signings in the first couple of years, and start FA clocks running sooner for those who sign, but everyone will adjust.

Posted by: BinM | August 13, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

I think what Kasten is talking about is a move towards a slotting system. Then there wouldn't be any need for this type of negotiation strategy. Everyone (team, player, agent) would know the dollar figure ahead of time. Then players would sign and begin their careers. I'd argue it's better for everyone. This should happen in the next CBA but it certainly won't happen without a fight.

Posted by: grforbes | August 13, 2010 9:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't agree with the slotting system. If you lock players in for too many years (5-6), it's not fair to them, because teams will want the average lower to compensate for the busts. If you only get to lock them down for 2-3 years and then have to renegotiate, it's unfair to the teams who may not see them a year beyond minor league ball. I think the current system is fine. If Bryce really wanted to play this year, he'd have instructed Boras to get a deal done earlier. It isn't the "system" that's at fault. It's individual circumstances that creates this, and the people responsible for those circumstances shouldn't complain so much.

Posted by: DavidandDonald | August 13, 2010 10:09 PM | Report abuse

Bor-azz of course. Why not sign Harper and get him into the system? He says he wants to play ball. What a joke.

Posted by: M20832 | August 13, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

The whole process is about maximizing Scott Boros' profit, nothing else. Does anyone really think Boros gives a rat's *ss about either the Nationals or Bryce Harper. He couldn't care less. Would it have been good for Harper to play ball this summer after immediately negotiating a good deal? Of course. But if Boros can get an extra nickel, Byrce will wait until he has it. That's why this incredible silliness about waiting until midnight on the final day. It's all BS. I suppose one can always hope that the next time some idiot blows himself up, he's in a bus filled with sports agents.

Posted by: lesatcsc | August 13, 2010 11:52 PM | Report abuse

"It's hard to tell a normal businessman that this is really how a big-time industry like ours runs. It's impossible to justify."

Sounds like one of those "normal businessmen" may be none other than Ted Lerner.

Posted by: JohnRDC | August 14, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse

There's a reason for this delay. The owners want to keep their signing bonuses low, and all the other agents want to key on the bonus given to Harper. Thus, the Nats can't sign him until the last minute, forcing the other agents to sign their clients earlier in the day.

It's about the Lerners trying to not tick off the other owners.

Posted by: zadok1 | August 14, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Hard to see the union agreeing to a slotting system so the brinksmanship will continue. Harper will likely get signed because it's beneficial for both parties to do so. Going back to JC and playing the roulette wheel in the draft next year really isbn't a viable option. With the O's resurgence (who aren't as bad as their record) the first pick could be Pittsburgh or one of the other truly awful and hopeless franchises. Things get dicey when one of the parties feels they don't have to sign. The Nats are fortunate Aaron Crow chose this approach, I understand he has gone down to A ball recently.

Posted by: Natmeister | August 14, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

They need to go to a strict system of absolute slotting for draft picks, with a base salary for each round and a rising incremental initial bonus for the bottom five, the next five, etc., and then a rising scale for each of the top five picks. No negotiations. Either take it or leave it.

No baseball draftee is ever guaranteed a successful career. It's a total crapshoot for the teams every time for every pick, and there's no need for the kind of angst caused by this ridiculous signing dance.

And if that strange breed of vermin called the "agent" goes extinct, well, that would be a fine bonus all in itself.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | August 14, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I can see the union agreeing to a slot system. Why not? All members of the union already got theirs. And the players that are coming in through future drafts, aren't union members until they get to the majors.

Posted by: comish4lif | August 14, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

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