Stephen Strasburg: "I haven't heard from the Nationals"

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That sound you hear is either the Nats screwing up the most important
thing in the history of their franchise or Scott Boras screwing up
Stephen Strasburg’s career. Hard to tell which it is, really. Tom Boswell, who caught up with Strasburg in St. Louis yesterday, has the scoop:

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 . . .
Strasburg seemed a bit perplexed by the lack of communication since the
signing deadline is Aug. 17 and many other Nats draft picks are already
under contract.

Accordng to Nats’ president Stan Kasten, however, acting GM Mike Rizzo
has been in “frequent contact” with Scott Boras. Which suggests either
(a) that contact has been highly superficial, to the point where Boras
isn’t even telling Stasburg about it; or (b) there have been
substantive talks and that Boras, in violation of just about any
ethical rule you can think of, isn’t keeping his client in the loop.
When it comes to that guy your guess is as good as mine.

As Boswell notes, any team dealing with Boras and a high pick can
expect him to make a big public show of it being insulted by the first
offer, thus the caution. If I’m running the Nats, however, I try to
short circuit all of that. I pick a number which I will truly not go
beyond in signing Strasburg — no lowballing, no gamesmanship — just a
number that I can tolerate as an owner but which I will not pay a penny
beyond. Then I offer it. Politely, of course, with respect and all of
that, while making clear — in writing — just how generous it is in
light of every other deal every other draftee has ever signed. If he
takes it, great. I have improved my team and signed the guy I wanted to
sign at a price I know I can tolerate.

And if he doesn’t take it? Well, in that case you can be assured that Boras will be talking through one of his favorite sock puppets
all about it, publicly slamming the Nats. In response I would release
the writing, note that we thought it was a fair offer, and wish
Strasburg the best of luck and health in the Independent Leagues. If he
doesn’t blow out his elbow, I draft him again next year with my
compensation pick.

Maybe such an approach will cause the Nats to overpay by a couple of
million. But if they do it right they will not be paying more than they
feel good judgment requires, they will circumvent a stupid and
pointless Boras negotiation, they will show the fans that they aren’t
being pennywise and pound foolish and, best of all, they stand a pretty
good chance of getting Stephen Strasburg signed and pitching before the
end of the summer.

Take Boras’ power away from him, Rizzo. Make him an offer he can, but shouldn’t, refuse.

Report: Ben Zobrist’s price tag is currently four years, $60 million

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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Ben Zobrist will turn 35 years old early next summer, but that doesn’t seem to be putting too much of a dent in his free agent value.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the “sense among interested teams” is that Zobrist’s price is currently hovering around four years, $60 million and it “may go higher.”

There was a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal on Sunday stating that the Mets have made Zobrist their “No. 1” offseason target, and over a dozen other clubs have linked to him since the World Series ended. That’s the kind of attention you command when you can both hit — Zobrist posted an .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 2015 — and also cover a range of positions defensively.

He makes sense for just about any club looking to contend in the coming seasons.

Wilin Rosario elects to become free agent

Wilin Rosario
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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Wilin Rosario was designated for assignment by the Rockies late last month. Now, according to Thomas Harding of, the 26-year-old former National League Rookie of the Year vote-getter has elected to become a free agent.

Rosario is a bad defensive catcher and wasn’t much better when the Rockies tried him at first base, but he should draw some interest from American League teams looking for a bench bat and part-time DH.

Rosario slugged 28 home runs for the Rockies in 2012 and he’s averaged 26 home runs for every 162 games over the course of his five-year major league career.

He boasts a .319/.356/.604 career batting line against left-handed pitching.

Orioles acquire Mark Trumbo from Mariners for Steve Clevenger

Mark Trumbo
AP Photo/Joe Nicholson

As first reported by Bob Dutton of the Tacoma Tribune and now confirmed by CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, the Mariners have traded first baseman and corner outfielder Mark Trumbo to the Orioles in exchange for catcher and first baseman Steve Clevenger. There is also a second player headed to Baltimore in the deal.

This feels like an admission from the O’s that they’re not going to be able to re-sign Chris Davis, who is said to be looking for more than $150 million in free agency.

Clevenger was out of options and the Orioles have both Matt Wieters and Caleb Joseph coming back at the catcher position. Wieters was due to become a free agent but accepted a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Baltimore last month.

Trumbo has always been a low-OBP guy and he rates as a poor defender everywhere he has played, but the 29-year-old has averaged 31 homers and 96 RBI for every 162 games in his six-year major league career. Camden Yards is a much better place than Safeco Field for him to show that power.

Cardinals finished runner-up to Red Sox in David Price sweepstakes

David Price
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner

These kind of after-the-ink-has-dried reports have to be taken with a grain of salt for a variety of reasons, but they’re fantastic conversation-starters …

Bob Nightengale of USA Today says the Cardinals “finished runner-up” to the Red Sox in the bidding for free agent left-hander David Price, who signed with Boston on Monday for a record seven years and $217 million.

There were reports early on that the Red Sox were going to have to overpay on Price because he wanted to either stay in Toronto or make the move to the more pitcher-friendly National League. And maybe they did go significantly above and beyond the next-best offer to land him.

But the report from Nightengale serves as an indication that the Cardinals are ready and willing to spend big money ahead of next week’s Winter Meetings in Nashville. Does that chunk of change now get directed toward Jason Heyward? Or might the Cardinals pounce one of the falling dominos in this still-loaded starting pitching market? What about both?

St. Louis lost Lance Lynn to Tommy John surgery last month and both Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha carry some injury concerns into 2016. There’s money to spend there with a new billion-dollar local television deal about ready to kick in.