Face off: It all comes down to Strasburg

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It comes down to tomorrow.

Tomorrow is when one of two things will happen. Either Stephen Strasburg signs and the Major League Baseball draft is changed forever, or he doesn’t, and people will be labeled.

Scott Boras will be labeled as the greediest man on earth. Some may say he already has that title secured, but an agent who refuses a contract that is nearly 60 percent larger than the previous record one is unconscionable.

Stephen Strasburg will be labeled as a sell out, a kid with no heart for the game, and will be ostracized by many players for at least a good part of his early career.

Stan Kasten, the Lerner’s, and the Washington Nationals will be labeled as nearly failures. They will lose as much respect as a last place team can when they blow away a once in a lifetime chance to sign a savior.

The problem is that all sides have a case.

Boras has two main arguments. First he uses the example of another one of his clients, Daisuke Matsuzaka. Daisuke received a 52 million dollar contract in 2007 after the Red Sox paid 50 million just to have the exclusive rights to simply talk to him. Daisuke came to the big leagues from Japan, and therefore and no Major League or Minor League experience, which is why Boras compares the two players. Boras’ contention is that high division one college baseball is equivalent to Japanese baseball.

Second, Boras is comparing the change in markets. In 1998 when J.D Drew signed a seven million dollar bonus, baseball’s gross revenues were two billion dollars. In 2001 when Mark Teixiera got a bonus of 10.8 million dollars, baseball’s gross revenues were at three and a half billion dollars. Today, baseball’s gross revenues are six and a half billion dollars.

Therefore according to Boras’s logic, even if he were the same talent as Teixiera he would be worth far more in today’s game. But Boras’ doesn’t just contest that he is as good as Teixiera, Daisuke, or Prior, but better than all of them.

If Boras succeeds in this precedent then it will mean much more money for not only him with this deal, but a huge shift in the market will allow him more money on many other deals.

This solid argument, and the pending deadline, put the Nationals leadership in a seriously tough bind. It’s been a rough year for the Washington Nationals. Scratch that, it’s been a rough four years for the Washington Nationals. There were high hopes for the franchise when it came to the city from Montreal in 2005, but nearly none of those hopes have been met yet.

The brand-new park is empty. The television ratings are pathetic. The play on the field is the worst in baseball, and they failed to sign Mark Teixiera, who was from the area, despite offering him more money than the New York Yankees. Not signing Steven Strasburg, especially only one year removed from not signing first round pick Aaron Crow, would be utter disaster for the club leadership. It would be an epic failure and perhaps the straw that broke the camels back as because Las Vegas is looking pretty attractive for a new MLB franchise.

Despite all that, Ted Lerner is a Major League Baseball owner, and the owner’s stick together. Can he afford to go out and completely change the market in order to save his own ball club? Will the other owners even allow it? It would be crazy to think that the collective MLB owners haven’t had conversations on the subject.

Then there is Stephen Strasburg, the one man in all of this who has the wiggle room to compromise.

Strasburg has already been offered a record-shattering contract from the Nationals, so regardless, if he signs he will make history. Regardless, if he signs the contract this instant, he will be set for life with 17 million dollars, and regardless of if he gets more money or not, he will start his career.

Isn’t that the point anyways? The once chubby undrafted high-schooler had a dream to be a Major League baseball player and the only way to delay that for at least another year is by not signing. If he signs, he will be on the path to be a big leaguer, if he doesn’t he wont. It’s that simple.

The Nationals are under tremendous pressure to not bend too far from their 17 million dollar offer, and Boras has no problem letting Strasburg sit out a year if a deal he likes doesn’t come around. It’s up to Strasburg to bend and make sure this thing is done, it’s the best thing for everyone. 

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