Let’s start with the obvious: it was easy for the Nationals to select Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper with the first overall picks of the 2009 and 2010 drafts, respectively. And the team was quite fortunate that its low point in the standings coincided with the appearance of two slam-dunk talents.
But that doesn’t mean it was easy for new GM Mike Rizzo to get those two Scott Boras clients under contract. Both went down to the wire. Strasburg finally agreed to terms after talk of $50MM demands. Harper, who was chosen the day before Strasburg’s memorable MLB debut, also waited until just before midnight on deadline day to get his deal done. Both commanded record-setting numbers.
The trick there was less one of talent evaluation than of relationship management and negotiating prowess. Tamping down the costs, ensuring the players came into the organization, and avoiding any long-term tensions were the priorities. Mission accomplished.
But that’s not the extent of the Nats’…