Why a Lil' Thing Like $20 Million Shouldn't Come Between Nats and Strasburg

Jarrett CarterAnalyst IAugust 17, 2009

SAN DIEGO, CA- APRIL 3:  Starting Pitcher Stephen Strasburg #37 of the San Diego State Aztecs throws from the mound against the UC Davis Aggies during their game on April 3, 2009 at Petco Park in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

By now, you’ve read all of the long-winded rhetoric from both sides of the Stephen Strasburg-Washington Nationals standoff. Even moronic MASN commentators and analysts have joined the fray.

Look, you can say what you want about how greedy Scott Boras is or how much good faith the Lerners have put into making an offer to Strasburg that would make him the highest-paid draft pick of all time.

For the first time this season, the Nats have more going right for them than wrong. Their recent winning streaks and the unbelievable potential of Strasburg all make for a perfect storm, where the scenario that he doesn't sign could be the biggest Washington sports failure of all time.

It almost seems weird to type, but the Nationals are one of the best teams in Major League Baseball right now. A meaningless August has been kind to the Nats, as they’ve only lost four contests in the month, had a winning streak of eight, and are currently on a three-game run.

In their wins this month, the Nats have scored five runs or more in 10 out of the 11 victories and have held opponents to four runs or fewer in eight of those wins.

Picture a potential shutdown pitcher with the control of Johan Santana and the velocity of a juiced Roger Clemens on the mound once every five days with an offense capable of five-plus runs every night.

Sure, pitchers have a tendency to get injured in baseball. Their arms can tire, and their stuff can be ineffective against major league hitters. The same goes for quarterbacks in the NFL and centers in the NBA. There is always a chance that young talent does not mature in the professional ranks.

But teams still draft young talent, not because there are any guarantees in their star power holding to form, but because there’s stronger PR when fate screws up a draft pick than if a team gets punked out of making one.

The Nats may not like it, but they have to give Strasburg at least $20 million.

He’s too impressive of a prospect to let a little thing like $20 million get in the way. Give him his money, and the fans will give it back to you threefold. If his arm flames out or he drinks himself into oblivion, fine. You paid for the potential. The fans will understand.

But if the Nationals pass on a guy because Boras drives a hard bargain or because the fear of underachievement is a proven phenomenon in baseball, the Nationals will never be regarded as more than a flighty fantasy to have baseball in the nation’s capital.