Will Strasburg Sign?

stephen-strasburg-draftTonight is the deadline to sign players selected in the 2009 draft , and Stephen Strasburg’s failure to sign is receiving significant publicity. There have been no surprises in the negotiations thus far because it was a lock they would continue until the final day once Strasburg signed with Scott Boras (Alvarez, Wieters, etc).   There is no guarantee an agreement will be reached because many of Boras’ past clients have not signed (Hochevar, JD Drew, etc).

It has been reported that Strasburg was offered a contract exceeding the record contract given to Mark Prior, but reports about how much the Nationals actually offered are conflicting (between $12 million and $17 million).

For what it’s worth, I think failing to sign would be a tremendous mistake for Strasburg if he is offered anything over $15 million. Watching the Aaron Crow negotiations unfold in Kansas City shows a player’s bonus demands will rarely increase by re-entering the draft the next season.

Conversely, the Nationals make a mistake failing to sign “the best prospect ever” for anything below $17 million. However, going higher than $17 million is extremely questionable.  The Nationals will have the #1 pick next season where fellow mega-prospect Bryce Harper will be available. Harper will be represented by Boras and demanding a salary 20% higher than what the Nationals gave Strasburg (“if you give a mouse a cookie, he’s going to want a glass of milk”).

The Nationals have the opportunity to sign the two best prospects in recent memory, but investing this much payroll in two prospects is beyond risky. Maybe they would turn into the early-90’s Seattle Mariners, who built a great franchise around elite prospects. However, if the prospects bust, things would get very bad in D.C.

Strasburg is still an elite pitcher.  If you play in a keeper league where a failure to sign results in him being dropped (probably won’t happen), picking him up is highly recommended. I’m guessing he signs w/ the Nationals for $18.5 million at the deadline, but we’ll see.