On talent alone, Strasburg would picked by the Nationals with the first pick in June and no one would bat an eye. The drama comes from his agent, who of course is Scott Boras. Just like every other year, some outrageous claims are being attached to Boras right now in trying to determine what he's going to ask for when Strasburg is drafted. Peter Gammons has this report today (subscription required):
"Some club officials think that if Washington takes San Diego State pitcher Stephen Strasburg with the first overall pick, Boras will ask for Daisuke Matsuzaka money (six years, approximately $50M) or take him to Japan for a year, a threat that may scare Stan Kasten into selecting a lesser prospect."Now, first things first, it's worth noting that it's not a given that the Nats will just fold this at this asking price. Acting GM Mike Rizzo was the scouting director in Arizona when they drafted Stephen Drew, and they didn't back down in the face of similarly blustery Boras rhetoric to make that pick. In fact, in each of the past two seasons, Boras has made rumblings about draft signing bonuses in the neighborhood of $12-$15 million for his top clients (Matt Wieters in 2007 and Pedro Alvarez in 2008) and both of them signed for about $6 million, even after Alvarez's contract was re-negotiated.
On the other hand, the Nats' ownership was burned last year when Jim Bowden fumbled the pick of Aaron Crow and lost his rights, so it's possible that they might not acquiesce to the request of an acting GM to make such a risky pick.
There are a lot of questions that would be raised if Strasburg did indeed go to Japan. Would he have to be posted if he wanted to return before he completed 10 years in Nippon Professional Baseball? That's the rule for every other Japanese player, but most of the players we're used to seeing posted (Ichiro, Daisuke Matsuzaka, etc.) have been drafted by NPB, where Strasburg would presumably sign as a free agent. And would Strasburg go back in to the draft? Most players that are drafted and don't sign end up in an independent league like the Northern League, where they play until the next season's draft. Does the same precedent apply to NPB, or will it be treated differently?
You can say what you want about Boras, but you've got to give the guy plenty of points for creativity.