Nothing to worry about Washington Nationals fans, this will get done, although it may come down to the deadline before it is announced.

The posturing that is going on between the overall No. 1 pick in MLB‘s first year player draft and the team that picked him is simply normal negotiation ploys by both sides. Believe me, the kid will sign when all is said and done.

Harper, 17, has until Monday at midnight ET to agree to terms on a contract. But it is not alarming to assume that Harper’s adviser, the infamous Scott Boras, will not crack until he is forced to. To give in now would be akin to blasphemy in the high stakes poker world of the business in which Boras deals in.

For this isn’t just about Harper; it is about Boras’ reputation and his credibility with future clients.

Here’s hoping that cooler heads prevail and the kid comes to his senses and doesn’t let the Boras ego deter him from starting his professional career.

Stephen Strasbug had some pointed words foir Harper: “If he doesn’t want to play here, then we don’t want him here.”

Of course, he should talk, as Strasburg didn’t sign until the last minute himself!

Look, if Harper doesn’t sign, he will re-enter the draft pool in 2011. Not only is that draft class shaping up to be a much stronger one than the 2010 class, what if the kid gets hurt? Is that risk worth a few extra dollars in the long run?

Maybe to Boras, who isn’t necessarily looking after the long-term best interests of Harper, but has to consider what is best for future recruitment business.


Why the optimism that Harper will sign?


Well, it is based largely on common sense as well as a strong feeling among baseball executives and scouting directors that I’ve spoke to that Harper is sure to sign before the deadline.

Harper’s performance isn’t likely to match what he did last season at Southern Nevada, so he won’t improve his leverage by returning to the Scenic West Athletic Conference.

Plus, Boras and Nats GM Mike Rizzo have worked well together in the past.

While Rizzo was with Arizona, he drafted and signed several Boras clients and went through the Stephen Strasburg negotiations just last August.

Meanwhile, 17 players remain unsigned from the first round of the 2010 draft, so Harper’s situation may be more newsworthy but it is certainly not unique.

It’s a game of chicken but it’s the kids that often get plucked in the long run if they do not sign.

Harper, for example, would be missing out on valuable development time and a possibly quicker path to the majors if he goes back to school.

So, in the end, both sides need each other and that is the motivation that will seal the deal.


Another potential wrinkle in these negotiations, however, is all the buzz going around about changing the drafting process in the next collective bargaining agreement to a more rigid slotting system similar to the ones used in the NBA and NHL.

Still, the Nats will likely move closer to the $10-11 million bonus range that many expect, while Harper will eventually show his hand that he really wants badly to start his career.

Regardless of whether or not people agree that Harper will sign, there is no disagreement over Harper’s projected future stardom.

Once he signs, that is.

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