I Had A Feeling This Would Get Nutty
Stephen Strasburg struck out 15 of the 25 batters he faced last night, and his season line now stands at 34 1/3 IP, 7 BB, 74 K. That’s a 19.4 K/9. But you probably already know he’s just too good for NCAA hitters right now.
Peter Gammons, however, tosses out this nugget – Scott Boras is floating the idea that he might ask for a major league contract worth – get ready for it – $50 million for Strasburg.
Now, just for comparison, David Price got $8.5 million for being the consensus top pitching prospect in the 2007 draft. Mark Prior got the largest contract for a player signed through the draft, netting a major league contract worth $10.5 million in 2001. Mark Teixeira got $9.9 million that same year, and those contracts helped push MLB to start a slotting program that drove down signing bonuses going forward.
So, yea, $50 million for Strasburg would be a record… by $39.5 million. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that he doesn’t get that much. But, it does raise the question of how teams are going to view his signability. Boras is obviously going to make the comparison that Strasburg is much more like Daisuke Matsuzaka than a normal college pitcher, and he got $52 million for Dice-K from Boston despite the fact that the Red Sox had exclusing negotiating rights, just like whoever drafts Strasburg will. Because Strasburg is making such a strong case that he’s not really a pitching prospect, but more like a professional pitcher playing in the wrong league, Boras should be able to make a pretty good case that this is going to be more like a Japanese player being posted than a traditional draft pick.
So, maybe $50 million is out of the picture, especially since Boston can’t magically acquire the top pick in the draft by outbidding everyone else. Even if Boras threatens to take Strasburg to Japan for a year for added leverage, the big money teams are never going to end up high enough in the draft to select him, so at some point, Boras is going to have to accept that he’ll be negotiating with someone from the Washington/Seattle/Pittsburgh/Kansas City/San Diego group of teams, and trying to extract $50 million from one of those teams probably isn’t going to work.
But I think we can be sure that the $12 to $15 million numbers that had been speculated are out the window. It’s probably going to take something between $20 and $30 million to get him signed, and that might even be a bit low. There’s no doubt that he’s going to turn the slotting system on its ear. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.