San Diego State’s Steven Strasburg is slated to pitch against TCU Friday night:
Strasburg’s next start will likely come this Friday, when SDSU leaves California for the first time this year and takes on TCU at 6:30 p.m. CT in Forth Worth, Texas.
…some club officials think that if Washington takes San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the first overall pick, Boras will ask for Daisuke Matsuzaka money (six years, approximately $50 million) or take him to Japan for a year, a threat that may scare Stan Kasten into selecting a lesser prospect.
Shocking, but not surprising. If there is one thing Scott Boras can do, it is claim boldly.
Since Washington has the top pick, the story is weighing heavily there. Here is the Washington Post summarizing things on their Nationals Blog:
Reading between the lines of the Gammons note, Boras appears to be preparing to use Strasburg, the exceptionally talented San Diego State right-hander, as a way of exploding the “slotting” system with which MLB has tried — mostly unsuccessfully — to reign in signing bonuses for draftees. It also appears Boras will be attempting to equate Strasburg not with previous No. 1 overall picks (Mark Prior holds the record for the biggest contract ever awarded a top pick, $10.5 million in 2001), but Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Japanese import (and Boras client) who signed a six-year, $52 million contract with the Boston Red Sox before the 2007 season. Such a stance would almost certainly invite MLB’s involvement in the process and force a complete overhaul of the slotting system.
Boras’s argument would be that, in terms of ability and immediate impact, Strasburg has more in common with Matsuzaka than, say, David Price, who was the last pitcher to be picked No. 1 overall (he got $8.8 million from Tampa Bay in 2007). Would the argument be valid? Right now, Strasburg is making a complete mockery of the college game, striking out an average of 19.4 batters per nine innings this season. His radar gun readings are consistently over 100 mph. ESPN’s Buster Olney has quoted an unnamed scout as saying Strasburg, right now, would be as good a pitcher as A.J. Burnett — who (dare we mention?) signed an $82.5 million contract with the Yankees this winter.
What makes this potential negotiation so fascinating is the fact Boras would have most, if not all, of the leverage — thanks in part to the Nationals’ failure to sign their top draft pick from last June, pitcher Aaron Crow. There would be a fan revolt in Washington if the Nationals fail again — particularly when the prize is a once-in-a-lifetime talent such as Strasburg. On the other hand, the Nationals would little negotiating leverage beyond the threat of walking away from the table and forcing Strasburg to play a year in the independent leagues (or, as Gammons mentions, in Japan).