With 77 seconds left on the clock, the Washington Nationals got their man.
The Nationals guaranteed San Diego State right-hander Stephen Strasburg $15.1 million -- shattering the record payment to a draft pick -- in an agreement with agent Scott Boras just ahead of a midnight deadline on the East Coast.
"It was an amicable but anxious time at the finish," Nationals acting General Manager Mike Rizzo said on a conference call that started at 12:45 a.m. in Washington. "We did get the deal signed at 11:58 and 43 seconds."
The Nationals assured Strasburg, the top pick in the June draft, of $4.6 million more than the previous record, the $10.5 million given to Mark Prior by the Chicago Cubs in 2001.
Boras had suggested Strasburg be paid comparably to other top pitchers who had no experience in the major leagues, most notably Daisuke Matsuzaka, who signed out of Japan for $52 million, and Jose Contreras, who signed out of Cuba for $32 million. Strasburg would have been eligible for next year's draft had he turned down the Nationals, but he could not have been selected any higher and might not have been offered as much money.
Strasburg agreed to a major league contract with a signing bonus of $7.5 million and annual salaries of $2 million in 2010, $2.5 million in 2011 and $3 million in 2012. He also gets a prorated share of the minimum major league salary of $400,000 this season.
Rizzo said the Nationals would evaluate Strasburg's condition before deciding when he might make his professional debut. Strasburg, winner of the Golden Spikes Award as the top player in college baseball, led NCAA Division I pitchers with a 1.32 earned-run average and 195 strikeouts in 109 innings.
Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.