The Clock Is Ticking…

Two days, ladies and gents.  Two days until we learn the fate of Stephen Strasburg, the first overall pick in June’s amateur draft.

Will he sign a record-breaking deal with the Washington Nationals, the team that drafted him?  Or will he spurn the team’s offer and ply his trade in an independent league while waiting to reenter the draft next year?

Consider this possibility: if the Nationals don’t sign Strasburg before 11:59:59 seconds on Monday night, it will be the second year in a row the team failed to come to terms with its first selection (they selected Aaron Crow with the ninth overall pick in 2008).

There are a couple of silver linings, however: when Crow didn’t sign last year, the Nationals received the tenth pick in this year’s draft as compensation.  With that pick they took Stanford’s Drew Storen, who signed on June 10 and is currently pitching for Double-A Harrisburg.  He has appeared at three levels this season, striking out 38 batters and walking only three in 26.2 innings.  That’s awesome.  I’m guessing we see him in a Natinals uniform before season’s end.

Silver lining number two: if Strasburg doesn’t sign, he goes back into the draft next year and the Nationals receive the second overall pick as compensation.  The 2010 draft features Bryce Harper as the likely first overall pick – if Washington finishes with the worst record in baseball this season, they will once again receive the right to select first, meaning they could hold the first two picks in a draft that features two of the top prospects in recent memory.

Who cares if the Nationals wouldn’t take both players (partly because they couldn’t afford both and partly because I think they would need special permission to draft Strasburg again if they failed to sign him the first time around) – it would make for some fun speculation leading up to draft day, wouldn’t it, and the  ratings for the first round would be through the roof.

It is almost exactly two days until these events are set in motion.  Come Tuesday, Strasburg will either be smiling as he holds up a Nationals jersey in front of the assembled Washington media or Scott Boras will be on all the sports channels explaining exactly why they turned down Washington’s offer and what his client’s next move is.

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