Ever since my days playing first base and catcher in little league I have been a huge baseball fan – though that isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to be with the way the Washington Nationals have played in recent years. Nonetheless, I’m proud to say I stuck with the team and have followed them closely even before they seemed to change things around after naming Jim Riggleman their interim manager at the All-Star Break. That is why I was one of the hardcore Nats fans who stayed up past midnight to hear that Strasburg had signed with the Washington Nationals.
You see, there were a lot of people who argued that the Nationals needed to sign Strasburg because it would show a sign of faith to Nats fans that the front office truly was committed to improving the team. I tended to agree even though it would take a record setting amount of money to sign the young right handed pitcher. At the same time, I definitely didn’t think that a pitcher who had never thrown a pitch as a professional was worth the $50 million that his agent originally claimed he was worth. Strasburg’s good, but I don’t think he’s that good -- especially since almost all the pundits believe that he’ll have to spend some time in the minors before being called up to DC.
Of course, on the other hand you had a lot of people claiming expressing some frustration with Scott Boras – Strasburg’s agent. This is understandable as Boras is essentially trying to create a whole new situation in the amateur draft by starting out making the argument that Strasburg is worth almost five times the previous record for a first year player selected in the amateur draft. In the end, people argue that if Boras gets his way then teams will have to pay their first round picks in relation to this new record amount which would, in turn, result in higher priced tickets and potentially pricing the ballpark experience out of the price range of many families (something that has already happened to many families struggling in this economy). As someone who avidly enjoys catching a game on a summer evening with my friends, I certainly wouldn’t want this to happen.
In reality, I think we all knew that the Nationals would probably offer Strasburg a record setting amount, but one that wasn’t nearly as high as the $50 million Boras wanted. In the days leading up to yesterday’s signing deadline, the rumors were that the Nats had offered Strasburg a contract somewhere between $12.5 and $17 million. Not too bad for a 20 year old who just finished his junior year of college.
In the end, Strasburg signed for $15.67 million over four years -- a huge amount, but one which most of the pundits thought he would be offered. Now that the whole negotiating mess is behind us, I hope that we see him step up and prove that he’s worth the money that the Nationals will be paying him. I have seen Drew Storen – who we picked with our second pick (number 10 overall) – pitch on several occasions for the Potomac Nationals who make their home in Woodbridge. Storen signed the day after he was drafted and he quickly went to work. While we were waiting to see if Strasburg would sign, Storen was turning in solid performances in the minor leagues while quickly moving up in the ranks. Now that he has finally come to terms with the Nats, I sincerely hope that Strasburg follows suit.