It wouldn't be a complete week without a Michael Crabtree post and today is a good time for it given the significance of midnight eastern tonight. The Washington Nationals have until then to come to terms with their #1 draft pick, phenom pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg is considered the proverbial "once-in-a-generation talent" and he also happens to be represented by Scott Boras. Needless to say, that has caused much consternation in the Nationals attempts to sign Strasburg.
The highest bonus given to an MLB draft choice was $10.5 million to Mark Prior. The Nationals have reportedly offered Strasburg a contract worth anywhere from $12.5 million to $17 million. Additionally, one report indicates incentives could make it worth over $20 million. If you're interested, you can follow this deadline dance at our Nationals website, Federal Baseball.
So why do I bring this up in relation to Michael Crabtree? Well, Boras has indicated he thinks Strasburg should get a contract similar to that of a Daisuke Matsuzaka. When he came over from Japan, the Red Sox paid $50 million to the Japanese team for the rights to negotiate, and then handed Dice-K an approximately $50 million contract. Boras thinks Strasburg deserves that kind of $50 million contract (not the posting fee mentioned first). It basically comes down to a philosophical belief, sort of like the issue we have with Crabtree.
Now obviously the situations have two big-time differences:
First, and most important for the Nationals, If they do not sign Strasburg by midnight, they'll receive the #2 overall pick in next year's draft as compensation. They actually failed to sign their 2008 #1 pick and received I believe the #10 overall pick as compensation. The 49ers would get no such compensation.
Second, Crabtree's options are much more limited at this point. If Strasburg doesn't sign, he can play for an independent league in the US or head over to Japan for a season. I also think he can go back to college, but I don't know the rules on that if he's already signed Boras as an agent (as opposed to just an advisor - I'm pretty sure though he can go back for his senior year at SDSU). Crabtree can't go back to school and his only real comparable option is the UFL, but if he goes to another league he's locked down to the 49ers even longer.
Just looking at those two differences, there is definitely a lot of good and a lot of bad for the 49ers. While it's true the 49ers would potentially lose a draft choice if Crabtree went back into the draft, such a move remains a big problem for Crabtree. His only leverage on the 49ers is that they lose his rights. On the other hand, Crabtree is pretty much guaranteed to lose money if he doesn't sign with the 49ers. And when I say lose money, I think it would be a whole lot of money. Not only would he likely drop pretty far after sitting out a year, but I'd imagine he could turn into another Mike Williams in terms of long term value.
I remain convinced he'll sign by sometime in September (maybe even right before the first game). However, I personally find it interesting to compare this situation with that of other teams and leagues. There are plenty of differences, but not so surprisingly, the whole "philosophical difference" creeps up every time.