Nationals owner Stan Kasten is telling people that he will pay a fair-market rate for Stephen Strasburg. If that's so, you can expect these negotiations to carry out all the way until the August 15th deadline, when Strasburg will decide to either sign or sit out a year - which he has not ruled out. Strasburg is 12-0 with a 1.34 ERA and 174 strike outs in 13 starts this season, one of which was a no-hitter. Some say Strasburg is major-league ready, but would likely need a couple starts in the minor leagues to adjust to professional hitters.
Even if Strasburg comes up and proves he is ready for the big leagues, he has already thrown 94.1 innings this season, and would probably need to be cut off at around 130 or 140, at most. If the Nationals were to pass on him for another pitcher, perhaps Tanner Scheppers, they would be paying much less for someone who could be equally as effective. I would be surprised to see the Nationals pass on him, but they might be better off drafting and signing someone who is eager to sign and play.
First round draft picks have been given major league contracts before, so the Nationals are going to have a hard time not agreeing to that, especially because their 2007 first round pick Ross Detwiler has been on the 40-man roster since being drafted.
This story was approved by MLB Rumors.