Although our own Stephen S. covered this a few days ago, I’d like to weigh in.
Stephen Strasberg is the best NCAA pitcher in recent memory. All things being equal, he’s probably better right now than Mark Prior was. Strasberg, pitching for San Diego, has thrown 34 innings so far this season, with 74 strikeouts and just 7 walks. He has a fastball that tops out in Joel Zumaya territory, and strong secondary pitches to go along with them. He was the lone college player on the 2008 US Olympic team, and went 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA for the Bronze Medal team. Not sold yet? Look at this video: (Warning, there’s sound)
How could this man possibly be relevent to the Yankees? Contract demands. Scott Boras, Strasberg’s agent, has recently stated that he wants a 50 million dollar major league contract for his client at the draft. This sounds absurd. It probably is. Boras uses the threat of playing in Japan for a year as leverage for Strasberg. However, Strausberg will probably still earn the largest contract in draft history, and could merit it.
Many top rookies are signing six or seven year extensions after just a year of major league play. Evan Longoria pulled off a 6 year, 17.5 million dollar deal after barely getting his feet wet in the major leagues just a year and a half after signing a 3 million dollar minor league contract. Teams have showed a willingness to commit a lot of money to young players despite the risk involved. I don’t think its all that outrageous for some team to pay a player as good as Strasberg right out of the draft something like 25 million over 5 years.
Teams generally don’t help out agents before the draft. That means that the Yankees don’t put out hints in the newspapers that they might be willing to pay 20 million or more for a player who isn’t yet the property of any team. That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t in the future. If the baseball economy isn’t looking so hot come May, few teams are going to have the minor league budgets to pay even 15 million for a single player. The Nationals were willing to spend a lot of money this offseason, so they might have it in their budget. Their negotiating tactic thus far has been to discount Boras’ crazy demands and claim that they will take all offers. I’m sure that even they have a maximum price. If Boras can scare the Nationals away, Strausberg can drop pretty far. The Yankees pick at #26, two picks in front of the Red Sox at #28, and should be able to afford Strasberg. Many believe that Strasberg is immediately MLB ready. He could replace Andy Pettitte for less money in 2010.
Its a fantasy scenario, but you never know.
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