The future of Stephen Strasburg and the Nationals is in doubt.
So this is what it's come to. By midnight tonight, Nats fans will know whether the team they follow will have squandered away a second consecutive first-round draft pick. The team must have phenom Stephen Strasburg signed by midnight, or they lose their chance to sign him.
So what's going to happen? Who the heck knows.
What we do know is that the spin machines are out in force. Scott Boras and his corporation of evil minions have been leaking like a sieve since day one. The godawful and barely believable $50 million figure popped out even before the Nats drafted Double-S.
But while Boras got the early punches, the Nats have countered strongly in the last few days. The team has started laying the groundwork for walking away, painting Strasburg as greedy, and Boras as someone who's trying to destroy the draft, fundamentally changing the way amateur players are valued.
So what should the Nats pay Strasburg? More or less, whatever it takes.
The Nats knew full well going into the process that it was going to be a record-breaking contract. They knew full well that they'd be dealing with Scott Boras, a man who prides himself on altering the draft. They knew full well that they'd end up shelling out $20 million or so.
The time for standing up for their principles was back in June. If they didn't want to shell out that kind of money, they should've taken a different player.
Nobody reasonably expects them to pay that ludicrous $50 million figure that was floated out earlier. But nobody really thinks that that's the number anyone's realistically shooting for.
It's somewhere in between, at a number that one of baseball's most richest and most profitable owners needs to find.
Yes, he's just a kid who should be grateful to play a kid's game. Blah blah blah. That's the same crap people have been saying about players for years. Yes, it's a lot of money for the average fan... but then again the average fan probably isn't one of the 200 or 300 best at their job in the world. And nobody's paying $60 a seat to watch the average fan shuffle papers at his or her desk.
Sports are different, and what our individual sense of what players are worth based on our own experiences don't apply. The kid should hold out for whatever he can get. Even though he's a great prospect -- a once-in-a-generation kind of talent -- as the Nats experience with Jordan Zimmermann shows, there's no guarantee of future paydays.
Don't begrudge Strasburg his attempts to milk every penny out of the system, just as you won't begrude Uncle Teddy the extra $20 million he'd pocket were he to not sign Strassy.