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Blog Entry

A big National risk? Maybe not

Posted on: August 18, 2009 12:12 pm
Edited on: August 18, 2009 12:12 pm
Shocking, wasn't it, that Stephen Strasburg would sign at "11:58 and 43 seconds," as Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters early this morning. Shocking that Strasburg would break a draft record, but not really break much ground in Scott Boras's never-ending battle to get American-born drafted players paid the way foreign-born undrafted players are.

As colleague Scott Miller wrote , the Strasburg deal is win-win for both sides.

But here's the other thing: History shows it may not even be that big a risk.

According to information provided by Jim Callis of Baseball America , before this year there were 15 players who signed out of the draft and received big-league contracts of $5 million or more. Of those 15, the only one who hasn't yet played in the big leagues is Pedro Alvarez (2008 Pirates) -- and he no doubt will.

Of the 14 who have played in the big leagues, the one with the least distinguished career was Eric Munson (1999 Tigers). He made it through parts of eight seasons in the majors, including one year with 19 home runs, but with a career average of .214, we'll call him a $6.75 million bust.

That's one to-be-determined, and one bust. And 13 signings that have worked out well.

And that bodes well for Strasburg ($15.107 million), and also for Dustin Ackley (who signed for $7.5 million with the Mariners) and Jacob Turner ($5.5 million with the Tigers).

Here's the list, with quick comments:

1998: J.D. Drew, Cardinals, $7 million (all figures are the guaranteed value of the big-league contract): 12 big-league seasons and counting. A solid big-league player for first-division teams.

Pat Burrell, Phillies, $8 million: 870 career RBIs in 9 1/2 seasons, and counting.

1999: Josh Beckett, Marlins, $7 million: Four years later, he won them a World Series. Then he went to Boston and won another one.

Eric Munson, Tigers, $6.75 million: The one bust of the group.

2001: Mark Prior, Cubs, $10.5 million: Two years later, he was an 18-game winner, and nearly got the Cubs to the World Series. That's worth $10.5 million.

Mark Teixeira, Rangers, $9.5 million: Hit 153 home runs in 4 1/2 years with the Rangers, then got them Elvis Andrus, Neftali Perez et al in a trade.

2003: Delmon Young, Devil Rays, $5.8 million: Good enough to get the Rays Jason Bartlett and Matt Garza in a trade. That's good enough.

2004: Jeff Niemann, $5.2 million, Devil Rays: Slowed by injuries early, but he's a 10-game winner for Tampa Bay this year.

Stephen Drew, $5.5 million, Diamondbacks: Inconsistent, but his career is still off to a good start.

2005: Mike Pelfrey, Mets, $5.25 million: A 13-game winner last year, and 200 innings, too? Try to find that for $5.25 million.

2006: Luke Hochevar, Royals, $5.25 million: Yes, they'd have been better off with Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, Clayton Kershaw or Kyle Drabek, all picked behind him in the first round. But Hochevar is developing into a solid big-league starter.

Andrew Miller, Tigers, $5.45 million: Hasn't done much yet, but without drafting (and paying) him, the Tigers don't get Miguel Cabrera in a trade. Therefore, he was worth it.

2007: David Price, Rays, $8.5 million: Those four outs in Game 7 against the Red Sox were worth $8.5 million all by themselves.

Rick Porcello, Tigers, $7 million: 20 years old, 10 big-league wins.

2008: Pedro Alvarez, Pirates, $6.355 million: Still in Double-A, but ranked second on Baseball America's latest Prospect Hot Sheet .

Category: MLB

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A big National risk? Maybe not

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Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: August 25, 2009 11:15 am

A big National risk? Maybe not

This is incorrect, the $4.55 million includes the $3.35 million signing bonus.

Since: Aug 19, 2009
Posted on: August 19, 2009 8:48 am

A big National risk? Maybe not

A lot of that $15 million is pure PR money to heal wounds.  Besides what's been wrought over the years by the MLB / Minaya teardown, the bumbling incompetence of Bowden and the resigned fecklessness of Manny Acta, fans haven't perceived a willingness by the Lerners to invest in this franchise.

If that perception changes and gets fannies back in the seats, it's money well spent even if Strasburg turns out to be a very ordinary pitcher.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or