Don't panic. MLB.com's Bill Ladson is reporting in an article entitled, "Harper enrolls, but Nats still negotiating", that the Nats' no.1 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, College of Southern Nevada catcher-turned-outfielder-if-he-signs Bryce Harper has re-enrolled at CSN and begun taking classes, but as Mr. Ladson writes, "...that doesn't mean Harper will not sign with the Nationals,":
"So far, Harper and the Nationals are not close to a deal and have until Aug. 16 to get one done or Harper will go back to college. The source said he expects the negotiations to heat up by Tuesday."
In a section of an August 5th post entitled, "Amazing on-field feats well within reach", which is subtitled, "Feel a draft", ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote on Thursday that, "...when other clubs check in to ask about their talks with the No. 1 pick in the draft,":
"...the Nationals are already floating the hard line that if they don't get Harper signed, they'd happily take the No. 2 overall pick next year in what's viewed as a much deeper draft."
Mr. Stark sees this as a sign that, "...teams are prepared to hang tough with their picks, now that the prospect of some sort of slotting system looms in the next labor deal," and he quotes an unnamed "official of one team" in the article who says that, "'Considering that [Harper] is 17 years old, there's a good chance that No. 2 pick next year gets to the major leagues before Bryce Harper."
As the deadline to sign Stephen Strasburg was approaching last year, ESPN.com's Jayson Stark wrote in an article entitled, "Clock ticking on Strasburg negotiations", about the reasons some unnamed people with opinions were giving that Strasburg and his agent Scott Boras might have had for not signing, noting that the Nationals hadn't budged from their initial offer, were, "...are a lousy team, with no fans and a bleak future," and the possibility existed that Strasburg could have ended up getting drafted by the San Diego Padres if he waited for the next season's draft.
As it turned out, the Nats would have probably been drafting Strasburg and Harper one and two if they hadn't signed Strasburg in August '09 (and Strasburg allowed them to pick him again), since they once again ended up with the no.1 pick in the 2010 Draft. Not signing Harper this year around would probably get the Nats two top 10 picks for the second time in three years after they used two picks to take Strasburg and closer Drew Storen first and ninth overall in '09. But, Harper went through a lot of trouble to make himself eligible for the 2010 Draft and I can't believe he did that with any other intention than getting his MLB career started as quickly as possible.
I'll just offer Harper the same advice I provided for Strasburg last year...
• (from the archives: Federal Baseball 8/19/09):
"'...(are) going in the right direction...If you want to keep going in the right direction, you sign your top picks. That's how you get better. That's why the Draft is there. That's why the team with the worst record gets the first pick and the best player. Hopefully, he will make the team better, compete and make the playoffs.'"
Zimmerman's advice for Strasburg?
"'(D.C.'s) a good place to play. I understand that it's a business. You obviously have to get what you think is fair for you. At the same time, you did what you did to sign and you make your real money when you make it [in the big leagues].'"
ZImmerman knows real money...According to MLB.com's Stephanie Storm's August '05 article entitled, "Zimmerman taking short path to Majors", the then-20-year-old infielder was eager to get his career started, so he:
"...quickly signed for $2.975 million because he didn't want to waste any time away from the field haggling over money..."
Zimmerman debuted in the Majors in September '05 and by the beginning of the '06 campaign, he was the Nationals' starting third baseman. In the middle of his 5th season, Zimmerman received the first payoff for his performance, agreeing, as reported by Washington Post writer Chico Harlan in a Nationals Journal post entitled, "The Zimmerman Deal, In Detail", to a 5-year/$45 million dollar deal which will leave him a free agent when he turns 29.
The Nationals' second '09 1st Round pick Drew Storen, taken 10th overall, agreed to sign with the Nationals for a $1.6 million dollar bonus almost immediately after the draft, telling MLB.com's Bill Ladson, as quoted in an article entitled, "Nationals sign reliever Storen", that he made the decision to do so because:
"I want to get going. I miss playing. We missed the playoffs at school. My arm is feeling great," Storen said. "I want to get that chance to help the Nationals this year."
Storen is already 20 games and 26.2 innings into his first professional season, pitching with the Double-AA Harrisburg Senators after brief stops with the Class-A Hagerstown Suns and Potomac Nationals. Storen's (1-1) with a 2.70 ERA thus far, with 38 K's and just 3 walks allowed.
Strasburg...? Last I heard he was getting some traveling done...The next time the fans of the Washington should expect to hear from him is around 11:30-11:45 pm EST on Monday night...
When I was given the opportunity to conduct an email interview with Ryan Zimmerman in advance of his first All-Star selection, I made sure to ask his opinion on Stephen Strasburg and wondered what, if any, advice the Face of the Franchise™ might have for DC's first '09 1st Round pick, Zimmerman's response:
"Strasburg is clearly a very talented pitcher, and one that we hope will pitch with the Nationals for a long, long time. With that said, it’s tough to put such huge pressure/expectations on a young man who has never pitched in professional baseball. However, we believe he has the skill and makeup to be a star for us. We’re all excited to follow his progress and hopefully help our club out sooner rather than later. I will give him a hard time for his only loss coming against my alma mater, the University of Virginia, in the Regionals in Irvine. I’m not going to let him down for that one. Haha."
Get it done, Strasburg...