Stephen Strasburg/Signing Deadline Roundtable...Pt. 1 of 2.
Ed Chigliak: (Moderator): The man behind the mask at Federal Baseball.com, Ed Chigliak has been writing aboot/lamenting the sorry state of the Nationals since 2006. That will all change...next week.
Dave at Nats News Network: Proprietor of NatsNewsNetwork.blogspot.com and "The Voice of Doom and Gloom"™ for Federal Baseball.
Graysnail: Erstwhile college football blogger dumb enough to get stuck following the Nats back in 1994. Those were the days.
Steven Biel: Writes the blog formerly known as Fire Jim Bowden, now simply FJB.
Jim: 25 year fan of the franchise with a background as a fantasy baseball columnist. Believe me when I say that there have been plenty of (down) years when fantasy baseball has been the diversion that's kept me interested in baseball.
Mezza: Mad Australian baseball fan who latched onto the Washington Nationals bandwagon because he was always told to buy stock when its low.
John Quinn: Northern Virginia fan, recent college grad, follower of all DC sports teams... unfortunately. (ed. note - "Writes at Federal Baseball.com")
Doghouse: Official writer of half-informed, statistically-based foolishness for Federal Baseball.
• Federal Baseball.com: Did you expect Stephen Strasburg would be signed by now, or anticipate a last-minute/deadline agreement?
John Quinn: I didn't expect that he'd be signed by now because, unfortunately, that's not how Boras works. He's a smart guy, and knows he can get more out of teams at the deadline because he holds all the chips.
Dave at Nats News Network: I don't expect Strasburg to be signed at all, so I certainly didn't expect it by now. IF it happens, it'll be 11:57 pm Aug. 17.
Graysnail: I'd have been floored if he signed by now. When he was drafted, it was painfully obvious this was going to go down to the last minute, so we're right on time for that.
Jim: (shrug) I hoped he'd been signed by now, but wasn't delusional enough to think that it would be done. As mentioned above, Boras has a history of trying to put teams on the defensive, and this situation has turned out to be no different.
Mezza: Never expected he would have been signed by now...and to be honest, I'd be more surprised if anyone else did...
Part of the negotiations strategy for the player is to use the deadline as a source of leverage and pressure over the team. The player has so little power in this negotiation, why would he give up this one?
Doghouse: I hoped it would be soon, but expect it will take to the last second. If Boras could swing some deal from the other side of the International Date Line and somehow string it along until the 18th for a few extra bucks, I'm sure he would. Mezza, keep an eye out, will you?
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• Federal Baseball.com: How do you think the Nationals have handled the Strasburg situation so far? It's been pretty much out of the press, they've stuck to the company line of not negotiating through the media, has that been the right approach?
John Quinn: Absolutely. By keeping it out of the media, they're deflating Strasburg's value (as much as possible) and creating the best negotiating situation. I'm sure it's much harder to get an agent to make a favorable agreement when fans and sportswriters are weighing in on the situation all the time.
Dave at Nats News Network: Sure, negotiating through the media is more of Jim Bowden's style, not Stan Kasten's. But remember, this is Kasten's (and ownership's) call. All Mike Rizzo can do is repeat the mantra "We're not negotiating in the media."
Kasten is in Bud Selig's pocket, and if you want my true opinion, I think Kasten wants to be the next commissioner of baseball. So there in another conspiracy theory for you. Cheap owners + unsettled front office + dreams of commissioner + Boras draft bashing + potential San Diego factor = Independent ball for Strasburg.
Graysnail: I think there's a fine line between not negotiating through the media and appearing like you're sitting on your hands. With the Nats, it's felt like more of the latter than the former, even though on some level I know that's not the case. There hasn't been much reason to be excited about the future - most of the moves recently have been window dressing, which is nice and all but doesn't really solve the problem when termites are throwing a party in your kitchen. The natives are restless; at least act like you're going to sign him.
Jim: I support the decision to keep the media out of it, and I don't see any reason to be overly stressed. I fully believe that if Strasburg (and Boras) decide that they want to be realistic with their demands, the club will get it done. There was way too much negative publicity (on both sides) regarding the Aaron Crow fiasco last year, and I don't think that the Lerners and Kasten are in the mood to go through it all again. We have no idea about how much they're willing to step to the plate, but it's not really our decision to make, so leaving the media out of it seems like a wise decision. I'm sure that if the deadline passes and he isn't signed, the reasons will end up coming out in the media anyway. If that's the case, I wish Strasburg lots of luck getting as much as he hoped he would this year when he's the third or fourth pick next year.
Mezza: I think it's been a professional effort to keep this out of the media. The Nats have everything to lose by running these negotiations through the media. They wont be able to pressure Stras given the need to sign him and it would best to keep it behind closed doors - I think if Jimbo is still about, it would have been a complete shambles. But now it's clear that Rizzo is an excellent professional GM who knows about negotiation and I'll be interested to see the result.
Steven: I agree the posturing is usually counterproductive, but to your basic question of "how they are handling it," that's a big question and we really have no idea without an inside view.
Doghouse: There is no winning press strategy for the Nats, so the right decision is not to play. We won't know how they handled it (other than managing not to appear obviously incompetent at the time) until afterward, and maybe not even then. Are we even sure what happened with Crow? BOWDEN!!
• Federal Baseball.com: • The last pitcher taken #1 overall, David Price signed for $8.5M with Tampa Bay, Mark Prior signed for $10.5M, Former DC GM Jim Bowden said to expect Strasburg to sign for $15 M at the last possible minute...If you think Strasburg signs, how much does he get? The ridiculous $60 million that's been floated in the media, the $20-$25 M others have predicted?
John Quinn: I'm sticking to my $22 million prediction, but I'll be the first to admit that that number is just a guess because there hasn't been much coverage of the negotiations. I think he'll be overpaid, but signing Strasburg is bigger than just Strasburg because it will show that the Lerner family is actually interested in making this team a contender.
Dave at Nats News Network: It will take an obscene amount of money for Boras to let Strasburg sign with D.C. The best thing that can happen for the Nats is San Diego continuing their hot streak and having a better record than Kansas City 10 days from now (S.D. is three games ahead of K.C. as I write this). IF Strasburg signs, I think it'll be for more than $20 million, but there's no way Kasten is going to break the slot by that much.
Graysnail: I've been saying $25 - $30 million will likely get it done; above that I'd have some serious trepidation about the contract. (Realistically, the Nats will get enough insurance on the contract to cover it in case of injury; at least I'd hope they do. I don't think he'll flame out unless he's injured.) Above $30 million gets dangerously close to the break-even point where his contract may not provide for his expected team value - but one thing that we're not taking into consideration is the team will probably get a decent windfall from Strasburg paraphenalia. As for what Bowden said: do you really expect him to be any smarter since he got fired?
Jim: I've assumed he signs for between $25 and $30 million as well. I think that signing him for anything over $20 million would mean that Boras has emerged victorious, as I don't think that any pitcher who hasn't pitched professionally should even dream of signing for more than that. However, I think that if the Nats can lock him up for $30 million or less, they'll make it happen. If not, see you next year.
Mezza: I think the guys above are pretty much spot on. I think that while Jimbo is an idiot, Stras will sign for a record fee - somewhere between $15m-$20m.
Steven: I have a hard time imagining him walking away from $20 million, and the reality is that Strasburg's stock can only go down it seems to me. So he'd be taking just such a huge risk if he walked away, I doubt it'll happen unless the Nationals are talking slot like Selig did at the all-star game.
Let me go in another direction though. Why exactly is $60 million "ridiculous?" Jamarcus Russell got a six-year, $61 million deal. Matt Stafford got 6 years, $72 million. Strasburg will be earning league-minimum for three years at least, and then in arb who knows, but let's say $5m a year in his arb years. Now you're talking about essentially a contract of 6 years and $76m, and any time he pitches in minor leagues is basically free.
Those are all very big numbers, but the reality is that the "ridiculous" $60 million is a lot closer to Strasburg's fair market value than anything he's likely to get. It's the unilaterally imposed slotting system that should be derided as "ridiculous."
Doghouse: Baseball is a not a free labor market until free agency. I don't know enough about the politics and personalities to speculate on a figure. Is the dream of Strasburg worth more than Zimmy is right now? Would you like to see him face the Phillies' order (or any MLB team) three times through before signing that check?•
• END PART ONE...(PART TWO....Coming Soon...Soon = 12:35 pm EST Monday 8/10/09...While You Wait...Why Not One More Time...