Nats, Strasburg make deal that had to be made 

August, 18, 2009
The Stephen Strasburg signing was inevitable -- both sides had far too much to lose -- and it's a clear win for both sides.

Neither the Nationals nor Strasburg had an appealing alternative to a negotiated agreement; the Nationals would have received the second pick in next year's draft but would have faced a PR disaster, while Strasburg would have had to go pitch in independent ball, a route that hasn't worked well for the last few pitchers who've tried it. Strasburg's leverage, always limited by the structure of the draft, would never have been higher, given his historically great performance this spring.

Strasburg's contract came in below expectations in both bonus (a little more than $15 million and number of years (four years), although given the nature of the draft -- the player can only negotiate with the team that drafted him and his only real threat is to hold out -- it's still an impressive figure and shatters all previous draft records, which is appropriate for perhaps the best pitcher in the history of the draft.

Keith Law

ESPN Senior Writer