The big story of the day is whether the Washington Nationals are going to sign San Diego State’s Stephen Strasburg by the midnight deadline tonight. He is not the only one as number 2 selection in UNC’s Dustin Ackley is still unsigned among others. Both of these players are represented by baseball power agent Scott Boras who has become one of the toughest negotiators in the industry over the last few years. This has ended up hurting some players in their negotiations for a contract as many players have slipped down the draft board.
One example of this was when Georgia Tech’s Matt Wieters who was clearly a better player then Clemson’s Daniel Moskos was picked by the Pirates due to their unwillingness to deal with Boras. This has turned out to be a little bit of a disaster as Wieters is already the everyday catcher for the Baltimore Orioles and Moskos is in Double A with a 9-9 record with a 3.99 ERA. The Pirates might have made up for that decision in the 2009 MLB Draft by selecting Boston College’s Tony Sanchez fourth overall and he has been tearing it up this summer after signing very soon after the draft.
Another example of this was from the 2007 MLB Draft, when the Rick Porcello dropped down to the 27th overall pick even though he was considered one of the best pitchers in the entire draft. You guessed the reason why he would drop so low, he was a Boras client. How do the teams that passed over Porcello feel now that he is on pace to become a consistent All-Star in MLB?
I have nothing against Boras for getting the best money for his clients but it has actually hurt a few of his players draft positions as they tumble down the boards. One scout told me “I think an agent like boras has more of a negative effect on the smaller market teams who can’t get into a bidding war and really need to sign all their top draft picks in order to compete with Yankees, Red Sox, etc.” This is the position that the Nationals fit into right now as we would not consider them a large market team at all and have failed to show they will pay substantial bonuses.
Darren Heitner who is the founder of Dynasty Athletic Representation and runs the Sports Agent Blog disagrees with the scout by stating “Every year we hear about how there are a number of teams that will stay away from Boras clients because of signability issues. Tell that to the employees at Boras Corp. now, after the top three selections of this draft are being advised by the company. Teams definitely use a different highlighter color when going over Boras Corp client names, but when it comes down to it, talent cannot be overlooked. Teams may dread negotiating with Boras clients, but that’s part of the reason that players continue to flock to his practice. They know that they will not be undervalued.”
What will happen with Strasburg in the coming hours? Does he sign at the last second at 11:59pm? We could see Stephen sign with the Fort Worth Cats or even pitching in the Japanese Baseball Leagues if an agreement can’t be reach. I will say that Strasburg has thrown his last pitch for the San Diego State Aztecs.