Stephen Strasburg’s new employer advised the pitching phenom to wait a few weeks – maybe even a few months – until he tries to cash the first check of his $7.5 million signing bonus.
“Well, he can try to cash it if he wants,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “But the check is going to bounce. I mean, we don’t have that kind of money just sitting around in our account. Are you crazy? We’re the Nationals.”
With just minutes before the signing deadline, the Nationals struck a four-year, $15.1 million deal with Strasburg and his agent, Scott Boras. But $7.5 million of the total figure is due in a signing bonus — $2.5 million immediately.
"We got a little desperate as time was running out," said Rizzo. "We didn't think we could deal with the fan outrage if we didn't sign him. So we just decided to agree to whatever they wanted — while keeping it to ourselves that we couldn't afford near that kind of money, knowing we'd have to write a check that would bounce or give Stephen a bunch of IOUs — IOUs written on official Washington Nationals stationary, I should add. We are legit."
The Nationals insist they're good on the money, just not right now.
"Oh, we will pay. People forget that we are a real major league franchise," said Rizzo. "It'll take us a bit to save up the money, but we'll get it. We'll cut some office staff, sell some supplies, sell bats, balls, gloves, players. My neighborhood even has an end-of-summer yard sale I'll take part in to make some extra cash. I'm selling an old record player that I think can bring 30 or 40 bucks."
In case Strasburg doesn't heed the team's advise and tries to cash his bonus check immediately, Rizzo thinks he has a a solid backup plan in place.
"I came up with this earlier in the year when we misspelled the team name 'Natinals' on a few of our jerseys," he said. "I wrote his name wrong on his bonus check. Like, way wrong. It says 'Pay To The Order Of: Stenny Strappensborg.' No bank is going to cash that."
If there's a silver lining to their financial bind, Rizzo says it's this: "Scott Boras isn't going to be getting any money anytime soon either. So that's nice."