And so it begins: Boras starts to over-sell Strasburg

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Stephen Strasburg and agent Scott Boras held a media conference call
this afternoon and Boras predictably explained to all the reporters on
the line that Strasburg is “a different breed of cat” and worthy of a
mold-breaking signing bonus. Here’s more from the agent who’s never met
a player he couldn’t over-sell:

I don’t think you need me to say it, but obviously Stephen falls
into that class of players really not associated with the inherent
[risk] elements of the draft. They are just players who happen to be
available, whether that be through free agent or posting means. They
just have extraordinary ability. The idea of an extraordinary player
receiving a substantial bonus high above other draft picks has happened
before with Ben McDonald, Mark Teixeira, J.D. Drew.

It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. The reality of it is,
if you look at the players who have gotten $5 million or more, since
1998, and evaluate all of them, you can see the scouting system of
major league baseball is extraordinary. They don’t give out that money
unless those players are very good. Every one of them has made the
major leagues. The risk factor are extremely low. Frankly, the risk
factors are zero.

Boras can spin it however he wants and he’ll no doubt try to do just
that between now and the mid-August signing deadline, but the reality
is that even the greatest talents in draft history have a relatively
spotty track record of success as long as you’re not defining “success”
by simply making the big leagues. And no one but Boras is doing that,
least of all the Nationals.

He brought up Ben McDonald as an example of “an extraordinary player
receiving a substantial bonus high above other draft picks” and that’s
certainly true. McDonald was considered one of the greatest college
pitchers of all time when he was the No. 1 pick in the 1989 draft …
and he won all of 78 games in the majors. Not exactly the greatest
example to show that “the risk factors are zero.”

Along with McDonald, the other pitchers who’ve gone No. 1 overall
during the past 25 years are Andy Benes, Brien Taylor, Paul Wilson,
Kris Benson, Matt Anderson, Bryan Bullington, Luke Hochevar, and David
Price. If anything that list highlights the incredible amount of risk
involved in selecting a pitcher with the top pick, as Benes is the only
one to even make an All-Star team and even he finished with a modest
155-139 career record.

Boras would no doubt argue that Strasburg is more than just another
pitcher picked No. 1 overall, which is fair. Of course, Mark Prior was
the last guy to get tagged as the greatest college pitcher of all time
before Strasburg came around, received a record-breaking $10.5 million
to sign after the Cubs made him the No. 2 pick in the 2001 draft, and
has won 42 games as a big leaguer. Any conversation about “zero risk”
in handing a huge amount of money to a great college pitcher can pretty
much end right there.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.