The Washington Times - August 17, 2009, 04:44PM

It’s a hot and muggy August afternoon at Nationals Park. The grounds crew is on the field fixing up the home plate area and mowing the grass. The breath of anticipation is in the air…

And, of course, there’s no ballgame going on here tonight.


So why am I sitting in the press box high above the park at 4:30 p.m. on an off-day? Because it’s put-up or shut-up time for Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals. The deadline to sign all draft picks is at midnight, and to this point there is no deal to report.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be a deal by the end of the night. Indeed, most everyone I’ve talked to today still believes Strasburg will ultimately sign and become the highest-paid draft pick in history. The Nats will give him anywhere from $12 million to $17 million, perhaps as much as $20 million, and everyone will be happy.

Unless, of course, Scott Boras convinces Strasburg not to sign.

This is going to be a busy night for Boras, who represents six of the top 30 draft picks (including the top three). None have agreed to terms with their respective teams. The Tampa Bay Rays, however, said this afternoon that they will not sign No. 30 pick, LeVon Washington, a Boras client.

“We are disappointed that LeVon has chosen not to sign with the Rays,” Tampa Bay GM Andrew Friedman said. “We offered him a bonus consistent with late-first-round picks. Immediately following the draft, he seemed eager to sign but it has not materialized. We wish LeVon great success with his baseball career.”

So there’s one team standing up to Boras and turning him down. The Rays, though, are in a much different position than the Nats, who face much more pressure to sign Strasburg.

Anyways, keep checking in with us here throughout the afternoon and evening. If there’s anything to report, we’ll post it here as quickly as we can.

In the meantime, there is one roster move to report. The Nats, according to club sources, have designated struggling reliever Logan Kensing for assignment. No huge surprise there; Kensing was terrible in his second incarnation with Washington, posting an 8.16 ERA in 10 appearances, though that actually “lowered” his season ERA to 10.46.

The Nats will go with a seven-man bullpen again now, and add another bench player: Mike Morse, who is expected to have his contract purchased from Class AAA Syracuse. Morse, who was acquired from Seattle for Ryan Langerhans a couple months ago, can play all the corner positions. But he’s really coming here for his bat. In 43 games with Syracuse, Morse was hitting .327 with six homers and 31 RBI. He’ll be here in time for tomorrow night’s game against the Rockies.