Stephen Strasburg: Signing Deadline Nears
Time is running out on Stephen Strasburg if he is going to pitch for the Washington Nationals.
Strasburg may be the best pitching prospect in several years but he may not be pitching in the minors or major leagues this season.
With the state of the economy today it is unlikely that Strasburg and his agent Scott Boras can work out a deal with the Nationals.
The Nationals have had a huge drop in attendance this season with 358,775 fewer fans at home games than they drew in 2008.
Only the Mets, Tigers and Yankees have experienced larger drops in attendance this season. The Nationals have drawn 6,644 fewer fans this season.
Boras would much rather deal with a team doing well at the box office instead of one of the worst drawing teams. If those fans spend a very conservative $20 a game that amounts to $132,880 less revenue at the box office.
If that average cost jumps to $30 a game then the Nationals would have lost $199,320 this season.
The Nationals are 26th in the majors in total home attendance so the Nationals probably don’t have the financial resources to sign Strasburg.
With only eleven days remaining before the August 17 signing deadline for players drafted in the amateur draft time is running out fast for both Strasburg and the Nationals.
It is not surprising with Boras involved that Strasburg is still unsigned two months after the draft.
As of August 4 there were still twenty first round draft picks who remained unsigned. The agents for the other players besides Strasburg may be playing a waiting game.
They may be waiting to see what kind of money Strasburg signs for so they can use that figure as a reference when making deals for their own clients.
The saddest part about the delay in signings by these draft picks is that they are losing a year of experience while the negotiations are in progress.
Only an elite player like Strasburg stands a chance of pitching in the majors this season. The rest of the players have less than a month to play in the minors before the season ends.
According to the Baseball America article about the lack of draft signings the last player to sign was outfielder Jared Mitchell from LSU. He signed with the Chicago White Sox for $1.2 million on July 8.
With nobody signing for such a long period it tells me the agents are not happy with the offers they are receiving from the major league clubs.
Even if the deadline passes the independent leagues will be the only option for these players but their schedules will be ending about two weeks after the signing deadline.
The Nationals may get a spike in attendance if they do sign Strasburg. However it probably won’t be enough of a spike to keep the team solvent next year because Strasburg may only start 17 games at home if he goes straight to the majors.
There is no reason to think the Nationals would draw many fans in games that Strasburg does not start.
Boras should have learned after the Manny Ramirez negotiations that playing hardball doesn’t always garner a huge contract.
Agents like Boras don’t have the best interest of their clients in mind. They are more into hammering out a deal that will give the player the largest contract possible. In turn the agent receives a bigger commission.
The agents for these 20 unsigned players may still work out deals before the deadline. However the negative impact on the players may be felt for years since they have lost a year in their development and may spend an extra year in the minors to make up for the experience they didn’t receive in 2009.