Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The Stephen Strasburg signing saga has came to an end with about a minute and a half to spare before last night's midnight deadline to sign draft picks. Strasburg agreed to a 4 year Major League contract (the vast majority of draft picks sign minor league deals with signing bonuses), that will guarantee him $15.1 million over the next 4 years. The deal includes a $7.5 million dollar signing bonus, and seven figure salaries between 2010-2012 (regardless of whether he is in the minors or major leagues). The deal means Strasburg will be immediately added to the Nationals 40-man roster, and will give the Nationals the star they've been looking for.
What should be made clear is this deal doesn't change the amount of time that Strasburg is under the Nats control. Strasburg won't be eligible for free agency until he has 6 full years of Major League service (including time on the D.L.). So if he does make his debut next opening day then he won't be a free agent until after the 2015 season. If he spends next year (or at least a few weeks of next season) in the minors than his free agency will be held off another year. Because of the need of 6 years of service time in the majors before becoming a free agent, I was shocked by a string of recent tweets from USA Today's Bob Nightengale. These tweets which allude to Scott Boras (Strasburg's agent) saying that Strasburg won't pitch in the majors this year and possibly even next year. While I can understand why they would hold off on Strasburg this year (though I'm sure the Nats would love to showcase him to their fans), I have a hard time buying that Strasburg won't be pitching in Washington sometime early on in the 2010 season. If Strasburg spends the entire 2010 season in the minors he will lose out in millions in expected salary, by putting off his arbitration and free agent clocks. I also don't think Washington paid out the largest guaranteed deal in history to boost the attendance numbers in Potomac, Harrisburg and Syracuse (their top 3 minor league affiliates). I will guess that Strasburg will be up in the big leagues by the Nationals 2nd or 3rd home stand next season, and he will likely be pitching in front of a sold out crowd.