Yesterday was the Nationals’ opportunity to talk about top draft pick Stephen Strasburg and begin the public aspect of this complicated negotiating process.
Today, both Strasburg and his agent Scott Boras — whoops, make that his attorney, as Boras was quick to point out — got to present their side to the public for the first time.
Just so you know, this is going to be going on for the next two months, back and forth. Most of it is going to be posturing and have little relevance to the actual negotiating going on behind the scenes. One way or another, this will all be resolved by Aug. 17.
With that, here are some highlights from the teleconference…
Do you have any plans to come to Washington anytime soon? “I’m not sure. I just got picked yesterday. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.”
How do you plan to spend your time while negotiations are going on? “Obviously, I’m going to get back in and start working out. Actually, I may take a week off and then get after it again, try to take my game to the next level. Obviously I’m going to get a little vacation as well. There’s a few places I’d like to go. And then relax this summer and have fun.”
Where are you planning on going? “I haven’t decided yet.”
What are your emotions about possibly having to wait a while til you are signed? “I don’t know. It’s tough to say. Obviously I threw 109 innings here this college season, so I think it would be good to have a little rest time, especially after the big workload I had the previous year. I figure it would be a good summer to lift and get stronger and have a summer I haven’t had in a while.”
Have you met anyone from the Nats’ front office and what were your impressions? “You know what? I haven’t met any of them. I’ve spoken to a few over the phone, but that’s about it. I’ve never met any of them personally.”
When the moment finally arrived yesterday, what were your emotions? “It was an amazing feeling. You just have so much different emotions coming in at the same time. I was so happy. At the same time, I was kind of sad that the three years [at SDSU] that were so amazing were finally coming to an end. It just goes to show the last few years how hard I’ve worked to get to where I am today. I’m so thankful to all the coaches and players that have helped me through the way.”
How does your arm feel and what is your pitching plan now? “We’re going to have to wait and see about that. My arm feels great. I threw around 100 innings last year and had a pretty big workload last summer. Right now, I feel extremely healthy. But at the same time, there’s no rush.”
Where will you work out? “I’m not going to disclose that.”
Have you looked at other top picks who were pitchers and learned anything? “I’m sorry, but what would I learn from other top picks? Obviously I’ve watched guys who made it to the big leagues, because I don’t plan to be the top pick and then not be successful in the big leagues. I want to take my game to the next level. I believe I’ve learned how to work hard in college and I’m going to carry that over.”
Are you prepared to deal with things that will be said about you because of the business side of this process? “I’m perfectly fine with it. There’s been people all year who have targeted me. Coach Gwynn has always told me that it comes with the territory. If you’re a .350 hitter in the big leagues, there’s always going to be guys who try to throw you down. But if you’re hitting .250 or .220, then who’s going to be writing about you? So who would you rather be?”
What do you still need to perfect to be ready to pitch at this level? “It’s tough to say. I think the big thing is to get there, to get that experience. I think at every single level, whether I was pitching in China or pitching against some of the best college players on the national team, I’ve been able to rise to the occasion. I love being in big games. I love being in front of a lot of fans. It just takes my game to the next level.”
Have you followed the Nationals at all this season? “No I haven’t. I’ve been focused on the season here for the Aztecs. We got to the regional for the first time. That was my main goal here, and I was able to accomplish it.”
Can you address speculation you might take Stephen to independent ball or Japan if he doesn’t sign? “I think whenever you’re drafted by a major league team … I would say 99 percent of the time you’re going to reach an agreement with the major league team and sign the athlete. If that does not happen, obviously you then look to all the available resources that one would have to evaluate what the next step is, whether it’s to re-enter the draft or alternative choices.”
So you think there’s a 99 percent chance of this getting done? “I would say in our history of the hundreds of entry-level contracts that we’ve done, it’s a rare case where a deal does not get done with the baseball team. I don’t know the exact percentage, but I’m sure it’s somewhere in the 90th percentile.”
What is the first step in negotiations and when will that happen? “Mike [Rizzo] and I spoke briefly yesterday. I’ve had an opportunity to spend a great deal of time with Ted Lerner and Mark Lerner. We have a foundation built where I think we understand them and they understand us. Our goal here was to provide the franchise prior to the draft with every bit of information that we could about where we felt Stephen’s value points were and why. Certainly this is a situation now where Mike is very busy with the continuation of the draft. Once that is resolved, I think Mike and I will get together, figure out a time to talk.”
Why serve as Stephen’s attorney and not as advisor or agent? “There’s been a rule change in a recent order by the court. As an attorney, we’re required to follow the holdings of the court system. We’ll be serving as his attorney in professional matters.”