Saturday, May 29, 2010

What, Nationals Fans Worry?

At this time last year, the majority of Nationals fans were convinced that the team would either not draft or fail to sign Stephen Strasburg. After four years of filling their starting lineup with minor league free agents and failing to sign a high-round pick in two of the previous three seasons, the Nationals had a well earned reputation for being tight with a buck.

It's striking that now, just a year later, I don't think I've heard anyone even speculate that the Nationals could fail to sign presumptive #1 pick Bryce Harper.

Should we be so confident? Yes, the team ponied up for Strasburg. They gave a long-term contract extension to Ryan Zimmerman. They overpaid for free agents like Ivan Rodriguez and Jason Marquis.

Still, their payroll is just $66 million. Last year, after Strasburg, they drafted for signability almost all the way down the line. And Strasburg was a college senior with very few options other than to sign--the easiest kind of pick to negotiate with.

Harper will likely insist on more than Strasburg got. But if the front office is like most observers, they consider Harper the slightly less fabulous prospect. Will Kasten be willing to break his own record-breaking signing? Don't think the Nationals aren't scouting the #2 pick in the 2011 draft. Because we've seen this team go that route before, and at least for now Kasten has bragging rights about how that worked out.

I think the team will sign Harper. But I think fans who aren't nervous and assume it'll get done have memories that are all too short.

4 comments:

cass said...

Actually, Strasburg was a college junior when drafted, but most big college draftees are juniors. If he didn't sign, he'd likely have played independent ball rather than going back to school, c.f. Aaron Crow.

An Briosca Mor said...

Rizzo handles the drafting and signing, bozo. Not Kasten. If Rizzo says draft Harper, they'll draft him. And if they draft him, Rizzo will sign him. No doubt about it.

Souldrummer said...

This is another one that seems to me to be a bit negative. Yes, Strasburg had less leverage. Yes, Harper is cocky. But he may want to play ball this year.

The other thing he has to be worried about is aren't the draft rules likely to change after next year's draft. So, while he has some leverage this year, he may be staring a slotting system in the face after 2011 putting all of the negotiating leverage squarely in the team's face.

It's to both teams advantage to get this done, and I think that Boras and the Nationals are tough but fair negotiators. Expect to sweat, but expect to get this done.

Here's another reason not to worry. If you sign Harper, he probably won't be ready for 2 years, if you get 1A next year you may end up with a college player who will come to the bigs quicker than Harper would have. Flimsy argument, but something that makes me not as stressed as missing out on the Strasburg phenomenon that was last year's nailbiting experience.

Eric said...

I think they key difference between '10 and '08 drafts is the basice competance of the Nats front office staff.

If there was a failing among Nats ownership in the Crow negotiations it was the fault of Bowden to not prepare them or draft according to their limits.

I feel very certain that Rizzo has already had converstions with Boras AND Kasten/Lerner to make certain everyone is at least operating within the same parameters.