Strasburg signing tops off Nats' recent run to respectability (cont.)
High fives for $5 million players
Much of the $160 million spent on the first 10 rounds of picks may be wasted in the end, as a lot of these kids won't turn out to be big leaguers. But a history of the biggest draft bonuses ever paints a pretty clear picture that the best of the best amateurs are very likely to make an impact at the big-league level.
Of the 15 draftees to receive $5 million in major-league deals, only a couple have failed to make their mark. Some of the better ones include Mark Teixeira, Josh Beckett, Rick Porcello and Pat Burrell. Two haven't done much yet but were traded for big stars. Fourteen of the 15 made the majors, and the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez will make it too.
Danny Knobler of cbssports.com recently listed the 15 previous draftees to sign big-league contracts for at least $5 mil (at least I've added my own comments):
1. Mark Prior ($10.5 million): Big bargain before injury derailed him. Still worth it, if just for the one year.
2. Mark Teixeira ($9.5 million): AL MVP candidate after signing $180 million Yankees deal.
3. David Price ($8.5 million): Still learning as a starter after big bullpen outs last year. Future star.
4. Pat Burrell ($8 million): Very nice career, the hitter Philly expected.
5. J.D. Drew ($7 million): Maybe disappointing to some. But he's made $100 mil-plus.
6. Rick Porcello ($7 million): Tremendous Tigers rookie at 20. Worth 10 times signing figure.
7. Josh Beckett ($7 million): Former World Series hero is Cy Young candidate now.
8. Pedro Alvarez ($6.355 million): Great hitting potential. Too early to tell.
9. Eric Munson ($6.25 million): No position, low batting average.
11. Stephen Drew ($5.5 million): Solid starting shortstop with potential for more.
12. Andrew Miller ($5.45 million): Sill learning after going in deal for Miguel Cabrera.
13. Luke Hochevar ($5.25 million): Talented pitcher could be on verge.
14. Mike Pelfrey ($5.25 million): Solid starter taking a slight step back in Mets mess.
15. Jeff Niemann ($5.2 million): Coming into his own this year with 10 wins.
Boras' first-round total: $31.067 million
Boras said on Tuesday that it was never his intention to match Matsuzaka's money and that Strasburg was very happy with the deal, which is quite believable. Boras also said he judges his deals by his client's reaction, so he felt very good about things. Boras spoke very kindly about the way the Nationals approached the process and suggested they handled it like a pro operation. Of course, those positive feelings may come partly from the record-setting figure.
Boras didn't match some estimates on Strasburg's deal, but he managed to construct a deal for No. 2 overall pick Dustin Ackley, a University of North Carolina outfield prospect, that guarantees him $7.5 million with a possible $2 million extra in escalator clauses, and also got $6.25 million for Donavan Tate, the Georgia high school outfielder with the University of North Carolina football scholarship. Ackley's contract was the second highest ever for a position player, just behind Teixeira's deal with Texas in '01. Tate's was the most for a high school outfielder.
Boras got $5.5 million on a big-league deal for St. Louis high school pitcher Jacob Turner with Detroit (Turner joins Strasburg and Ackley as Boras' $5-mil-plus big-league deals in this draft) and $2.75 million for USC shortstop Grant Green with Oakland. But he was very disappointed not to have reached a deal with Tampa Bay on Florida high school outfielder LeVon Washington, who was described by one scout as a "Carl Crawford-type." The Rays offered $1.1 million to Washington, less than they paid Crawford a decade earlier. Washington is likely to go to a junior college.
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