The deadline had passed. There was no announcement. The Washington Nationals had been given 70 days to come to an agreement with their 2009 1st Round draft pick, Stephen Strasburg, who'd been selected No. 1 overall in the June 9, 2009 MLB First-Year Player Draft by a Nationals team that had dropped 102 games the year before to earn the right to draft a pitcher most labeled the best prospect to come along in years. The Washington Nationals chose the best available player, confident that they could sign Strasburg, and they remained tight-lipped throughout the negotiations with his agent Scott "Maximum" Boras, not responding to any of the stories leaked in the press and never saying anything outside of repeating that they would not negotiate through the media, until just last week when Nationals' team President Stan Kasten was quoted in an AP article at ESPN.com entitled, "Nats offer Strasburg record contract", revealing that the Nationals had placed a deal on the table, putting the onus on Strasburg to decide:
"If he wants to come and begin his career right now -- and do so with the largest contract ever given to any drafted player in the history of Major League Baseball -- we can help him accomplish that,' Kasten told the AP. 'But if this is more about changing the whole way an industry does business, then we won't be able to reach a deal.'"
With a little under an hour left before the deadline to sign '09 Draft picks, SI.com's Jon Heyman provided some hope with an optimistic Twitter post in which Mr. Heyman wrote:
""#nats are upping their bid from 12.5 mil, according to sources. the game's not over quite yet. 54 mins to go."
Continued After The JUMP...(PLUS: See The Cartoon I Commisioned In Case The Nationals Didn't Sign Strasburg...)
The $12.5 million dollar offer, which had been reported everywhere earlier today, worried some who were more willing to believe Boras would go with a $17-20 million dollar offer like MASNSports.com's Roch Kubatko had written about Sunday night, in an article entitled, "Fit to be tied", which nearly doubled the largest deal ever given and was reasonably far enough away from the oft-mentioned $50-$60 million dollar deal which was floated in the papers early on in the negotiations as to seem acceptable...
It was a full six minutes after midnight, six minutes past the deadline when Baseball America's Twitter feed posted the following report:
"Aaron Fitt reports Strasburg signs. MLB deal worth $15.67 million over 4 years."
I'm not sure most Nationals' fans believed it immediately. It wasn't yet being reported anywhere else, but then it slowly began to get around...Washington Times' writer Mark Zuckerman posted a story entitled simply, "Strasburg Signs", Washington Post writer Chico Harlan went with, "It's Done, Strasburg Agrees", and MLB.com's Bill Ladson followed with, "Nats come to terms with top pick Strasburg"...all of them reporting the same, Stephen Strasburg, the 21-year-old, 6'4'', 220 lb, flame-throwing former SDSU Aztec starter had decided to get his professional career started, and he had agreed to a deal with the lowly, perennial cellar-dweller, laughingstock Washington Nationals.
ESPN.com's Keith Law, after explaining why neither team could afford to miss this opportunity, breaks the deal down a bit in a post on his blog entitled, "Nats, Strasburg make deal that had to be made", where Mr. Law explains that the deal is designed in such a way that it gets Strasburg to arbitration by the quickest possible route:
"Assuming Strasburg's deal starts in 2009 (rather than a 2010 deal, which would mean he couldn't pitch this year), his contract would expire just when he's eligible for arbitration, assuming he spends most of 2010-12 in the majors. This retains his opportunity to cash in through that process after what would likely be three strong years at the top of Washington's rotation."
Washington Post writer Chico Harlan has the first reactions from the Nationals, in an article entitled, "Rizzo on Strasburg Deal", in which he speaks to the Nationals' "Acting" GM Mike Rizzo about the process of getting their No.1 pick under contract and then concludes by asking what he thinks this deal means to the Nationals as a franchise? Mr. Rizzo's response:
"The Lerner family stepped up here and gave us the resources to sign the most lucrative amateur player contract in the history of the draft. That says a big statement to the city of Washington, D.C., and to the commitment that the Lerner family has to winning championships here in Washington. The easiest thing in the world was to stick to more of a slotted type of system and try and hold the line, staying a little ahead of last year's No. 1 pick. They opened their checkbook to try to bring a winning, championship-type of player to the Washington, D.C. area."
Stephen Strasburg is a Washington National. Today the DC Faithful can hold their heads high. Tonight the Nationals play the Rockies. I'm willing to bet Teddy Roosevelt is about to win a Presidents Race.
(ed. note - "Had the Nationals not signed Stephen Strasburg, I commisioned a comic strip to accompany what would've been a profane tirade...")
("National Disgrace" by: Francis Hogan - Full Swing - Comics In A Blog, Blomics?)
written by Ed Chigliak
"On July 14, 2009, Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell quoted the Washington Nationals' 2009 1st Round pick, right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg, in an article entitled, "Strasburg waiting to hear from Nats", saying that he had no opinion of the Nationals' decision to replace former Manager Manny Acta with then-bench manager Jim Riggleman..."
"SI.com's Lee Jenkins: It's unreasonable to peg him as the next Clemens or Gooden. But if he stays healthy, I see no reason why he shouldn't be in the Nationals rotation at this time next year, and become their ace in the next two to three years..."
"...Strasburg will make a ton of money, but the bulls-eye on his back will be larger because of it. Everyone will want a chance to cut him down to size. In talking to the other pitchers, it seems that Strasburg will likely inspire a lot of jealousy in the minor leagues."