(Photo by Getty Images. Stephen Strasburg could potentially break the fragile heart of NatsTown.)
Should we start worrying yet?
After Bud Selig's comments yesterday: Yes.
It's been a few weeks since the Strasburg Negotiations heated up when Stan Kasten smashed up Scott Boras' car, but with the August 17th deadline looming just over a month away now: is it time for Nationals fans to start worrying about the team's ability to sign Stephen Strasburg? We've been trying to block it out here at the offices of The Nationals Enquirer. We're not particularly concerned thatthe Nats haven't spoken directly to Strasburg since Draft Day, as Boz reported yesterday:
Strasburg said that "I haven't heard from the Nationals" since he was drafted, other than receiving a minor league contract -- a technicality that prevents him from becoming a free agent.
What really matters is that Rizzo has been talking to Boras (also via Boz):
While the Nationals have not spoken directly to Strasburg, acting general manager Mike Rizzo has been in frequent contact for weeks with Strasburg's agent, Scott Boras, according to Nationals President Stan Kasten.
That's all well and good: team talks to agent rather than player during a negotiation. Par for the course. But Bud Selig's comments yesterday on the Strasburg negotiations had the effect of pushing the panic button:
"They're very sincere about signing Strasburg, and I'm hopeful that they will, and I know they are going to make him a very meaningful offer. Now, what happens from there is going to be up to Mr. Boras and Mr. Strasburg and what they want to do, and what the Nationals want to do."
"I look around. I think about this subject a lot. Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Howard. They all signed at slot or under -- [and] they're all doing pretty well. Let's be honest, in this economy, the numbers that are being spent [on young players] are pretty good."
(Bud Selig, via Nationals Journal, 7/14/2009)
In other words: No surprise, but Bud expects the Nats to toe the party line. And they probably will. And Boras will take his ball and go play somewhere else. Time to start preparing for the bad news, NatsTown.