Largely overlooked in the conversation over whether or not the Washington Nationals will be able to sign first-overall pick Stephen Strasburg is this:
The Nats currently are on pace to easily finish with the worst record in the majors. If they do, they will again pick No. 1 overall in next summer's draft.
If, at the same time, they fail to sign Strasburg, then they will get a compensatory pick in 2010 -- as they did this year (No. 10 overall pick), when they failed to sign their first-round choice from last year, pitcher Aaron Crow.
This happens, the Nats could wind up with both the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the 2010 draft.
Of course, it would be small consolation. They would be skewered by the many in the media and by their rapidly diminishing fan base in the interim for failing to sign first-round picks in two consecutive years. And the failures would seriously slow the development of their major-league club, such as it is.
But if Strasburg's "advisor", Scott Boras, demands a Daisuke Matsuzaka-like $50 million deal and will not come down, all will not be lost if the Nats stand firm and refuse to pay.
Besides, after Strasburg sits out the year and cools his heels with some independent league team, the Nats could even pick him again next year with one of those first two picks. But Strasburg would have to consent.