The Washington Nationals agreed to a record contract with No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg last night, barely beating the midnight deadline for signing draft choices. Baseball America reported the deal was for four years and $15.67 million, the biggest contract ever for a rookie, topping the five-year, $10.5 million deal Mark Prior got from the Cubs in 2001.
The righthander from San Diego State, being advised by Scott Boras, went 13-1 last season, leading Division 1 pitchers in ERA and strikeouts, and won the Golden Spikes award for the top US amateur baseball player. Had he not signed, Strasburg could have gone back to San Diego State for his senior season or signed with an independent league team and entered the 2010 draft. The Nos. 2 and 3 overall picks, outfielder Dustin Ackley (Mariners) and outfielder Donavan Tate (Padres), two more Boras clients, also reached agreements ahead of the deadline, Boston Globe reports.
Washington got it done, agreeing with Strasburg on a record-breaking contract worth about $15 million over four years. The struggling team and the hard-throwing right-hander resolved everything at "11:58 and 43 seconds," Nationals president Stan Kasten said.
"People thought it would take to the last minute," Kasten said, smiling. "We didn't even need that last minute."
The deal is worth roughly 50 percent more than the previous highest guaranteed deal for a player in baseball's amateur draft, the $10.5 million pitcher Mark Prior got from the Chicago Cubs in 2001, The Associated Press reports.
The Strasburg negotiations threatened to further damage an already broken system, but Boras had nowhere to turn; holding out Strasburg for a year — and sacrificing $15 million — would have been too big a risk.
The system in this case actually worked; the Nationals got their man. But does anyone outside of Boras actually think it's smart business to guarantee a college pitcher — no matter how gifted — more than $15 million?
Give the Nationals credit — they barely said a word publicly, waited out Boras patiently and finally got a deal that most in baseball will deem reasonable. In truth, the contract is reasonable only in an unreasonable world, FOXSports informs.