Contracts for unproven draft picks need changed

Published 1:18 am Monday, August 17, 2009

Evidently, buying a pig in a poke is beginning to take its toll on the pro sports owners.

With talk of restructuring NFL draft pick salaries since they haven’t proven themselves and giving the big money to the veterans, the Washington Nationals in Major League Baseball are feeling the unknown salary squeeze.

Nationals’ owner Stan Kasten has offered No. 1 pick Stephen Strasburg — a pitcher from San Diego State with a fastball clocked at 102 miles an hour — a contract worth more than $10.5 million. That was the record amount given Mark Prior by the Chicago Cubs as the second pick of the 2001 draft.

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But Kasten has admitted that it is a very strong possibility that Strasburg and the National won’t reach an agreement.

Kasten said agent Scott Boras — modern day sports answer to Jesse James — has taken an approach that is “advocating a new methology for evaluating draft picks.” In other words, Boras wants to change the way a draft pick’s worth is determined.

Boras — who has the top three players in this year’s draft — said it didn’t make sense to compare Strasburg’s value with bonuses from eight years ago.

If Boras wants a new way to determine a draft pick’s worth, I’ve got an idea. Let’s compare apples to apples and match player salaries of today’s draft picks with today’s proven major league players.

Take the numbers of the pitcher or batter in the game making similar money to what Boras is asking. The player can sign for that amount of money but he can only keep it if he meets or exceeds the expected numbers.

Like any other business, the buyer gets a money back guarantee.

For example, if a pitcher is expected to win 20 games, he must pay back $500 for each win less than 20. If he signs for $20 million and he only wins 10 games, he has to pay back $10 million. And other numbers such as strikeouts and earned run average should have a price on them as well.

This will also affect Boras. If he operates on a 10 percent commission, he would have to pay back his commission fees to the player. Instead of getting 10 percent of $20 million, he’d get a percentage of $10 million or less.

If Strasburg doesn’t reach a deal with the Nationals, he goes back in the draft pool for next year. Last year the Nationals picked pitcher Aaron Crow No. 9 overall and did not sign him. He was taken No. 12 this year by Kansas City but has yet to sign.

Randy Hendricks is Crow’s agent. I wonder if agents all go to the same negotiating clinic?

–– Sinatra ––

Jim Walker is sports editor of The Ironton Tribune.