Major Leagues: Strasburg, Nationals face deadline
WASHINGTON ó The Washington Nationals faced a deadline of midnight Monday night to sign No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg or lose their rights to him.
As of 6 p.m., with six hours left for the sides to reach an agreement, there had been no announcement by the team or Scott Boras, the agent for the right-hander from San Diego State.
Nationals president Stan Kasten told The Associated Press on Saturday that there was a “very real possibility, with 48 hours to go, that Stephen may choose not to sign with us. We remain hopeful.”
Strasburg went 13-1 this season for the Aztecs, leading Division I pitchers with a 1.32 ERA and 195 strikeouts. Last month, he won the Golden Spikes Award as the top amateur baseball player in the United States.
If there’s no deal between Washington and Strasburg, he could go back into the 2010 draft, and the team would be awarded next year’s second pick as compensation.
It has seemed clear since before June’s draft that it would take an unprecedented package to get Strasburg signed ó a deal with more guaranteed money than the record $10.5 million, five-year contract pitcher Mark Prior got from the Chicago Cubs following the 2001 amateur draft. Prior was the No. 2 pick that year.
Kasten told the AP on Saturday that the Nationals offered Strasburg a record-breaking major league contract more than a week ago during a face-to-face meeting in California. Kasten, acting general manager Mike Rizzo and principal owner Ted Lerner were all part of that meeting with Strasburg and Boras.
Boras has said it doesn’t make sense to compare Strasburg’s value with bonuses from eight years ago, because baseball’s revenues have more than doubled since then.
“Scott has been advocating a new methodology for evaluating draft picks. So he’s been talking in those kinds of ideas, concepts and, frankly, comparables with players that are simply not comparable to this circumstance,” Kasten told the AP.
“On the other hand, we are happy to use as a comparable any player ever drafted at any position in the entire history of Major League Baseball. We’ll do that. But we’re not willing to just abandon all of that and start over with a brand new valuation methodology. That we just can’t be a part of.”
The last-place Nationals are on pace for a second consecutive 100-loss season.
A year ago, they failed to sign their first-round pick, No. 9 overall choice Aaron Crow, a pitcher from Missouri. Those negotiations went down to the wire, and it was expected that Washington’s talks with Strasburg would, too.
“It really would be a mistake for him to put his career off for another year. We outlined for him a fairly safe, conservative development plan, because we never want to rush anyone,” Kasten said Saturday. “But let’s face it, if he signs with us and gets working out next week and pitches in the Fall League well and then in spring training … he could be up here in the major leagues as soon as opening day in 2010.”
Boras also was handling negotiations Monday for other unsigned clients, including the No. 2 and No. 3 picks in June’s draft.