Scott Boras Talks Stephen Strasburg, Big Signing Bonuses

June 11, 2009 – 9:15 am by Will Brinson

Scott Boras, depending on your varying viewpoint, is either evil or awesome. Okay, he’s probably evil unless you pay him to represent you, but the truth of the matter is that in a capitalistic society, well, what Boras does is perfectly acceptable — it’s just that it’s easy to hate him because he’s so ridiculously demanding. But it’s not like he’s making any owners poor.

Anywho, he’s really stretching the limits with pitching phenom Stephen Strasburg, who was the top pick by the Washington Nationals in the recent MLB draft. Boras wants $50 million for Strasburg as a signing bonus, and he talked recently with Michael Kay on ESPN Radio NY about his client’s future, both as a player and a cash cow prospective millionaire. 

On Strasburg’s makeup:

“I’ve seen about 30 or so drafts and I would say Darren Driefort was probably the best natural stuff I’ve seen come out of a college pitcher in my career. Stephen is certainly in command and also consistent with a power arm…He just has control over those pitches at a very young age. He’s 20 years old and he’s got a big body, a strong body. He’s had the good fortune of being reared by a Hall of Fame hitter and I think it’s had a great impact on him and his ability to really focus on command of pitches as well as the velocity of pitches…He’s a very smart athlete; he could have gone to Stanford. He’s kind of a complete package. He’s disciplined, he’s studied, he has a great deal of desire to have a very successful career in baseball, he’s a great teammate and he’s a very committed athlete.”

On the success of players who have received large bonuses:

“Of all of the players since JD Drew signed in 1998, there have been roughly 22 players that have received bonuses of $5 million or more and interestingly enough, with the exception of Mark Prior, every one of those players is a major leaguer and every one of those players is doing well in the major leagues. When we go and look at how good scouting is and what the risks of the draft is, I would agree that the risk of the draft for those players that are in positions not to receive bonuses of that size, that there is a risk. But on the other hand there is an extraordinary near 100% success rate for players that have been [deemed] worthy of bonuses that are $5 million and above.”

Why bonuses should be higher for players like Strasburg:

“In looking at the baseball draft, we’re losing athletes to the NFL because they’re offering $30, $40, $50 million guaranteed in the 1st round to selected players. We’re losing players to the NBA as well. Consequently, what we have to do as a sport when we have extraordinary athletes, we have to make sure we stay on par because the risk factors associated with success for collegiate is frankly no different and maybe even better with baseball players than other sports.”

His recommendation for the draft:

“I really think that the best thing that could happen in baseball is you distinguish a college draft from a high school draft. You’re going to havean identify of players and assurity (sp) of performance of players be more defined. Then you’re going to have a value associated with draft picks…Once you include the high school players, you’re going to have a dilution of the draft structure and value that makes this element very complicated.”

His final case for Strasburg receiving an insane amount of money:

“We had a situation with J.D. Drew where the going rate for a draft pick was $2 million – J.D. Drew got $8 million. That was 1998 where the revenues were $1.8 billion in baseball. It has been over 10 years and the revenues have gone to $6.5 billion and yet only 2 players haveever gotten a bonus above J.D. Drew. I don’t think we need to apologize for Mark Teixeira, he certainly was worth every penny spend in the draft. An extraordinary talent like a Teixeira, he got the highest bonus ever in a draft, it did not in effect have an impact on any other player in the draft that have followed him even when the revenues in the game have gone up dramatically. You have those type of players that should be compensated at levels that exceed the customary draft pick because their talent requires it.”

Listen to Scott Boras on ESPN Radio New York with Michael Kay

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