By now, the Nationals should be used to this. It's a reality of doing business with Scott Boras - and they've done quite a bit of business with the super-agent in the last three years. But it does lead to some tense moments on the third Monday of August.
And this year, they're looking at three sets of negotiations with Boras.
Teams have until midnight to sign their picks from the 2011 draft. The Nationals had three of the first 34 picks in this year's draft, and took three players advised by Boras, with whom the Nationals went down to the wire the last two years in negotiations for Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. This year, they'll be bargaining with Boras for Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon (the sixth overall pick), Kentucky pitcher Alex Meyer (23rd overall) and Miami Dade College outfielder Brian Goodwin (34th overall).
In addition to all that, the Nationals are still trying to sign third-rounder Matt Purke and fourth-rounder Kylin Turnbull, a pair of left-handers who could go back to college. It's shaping up to be a busy night for general manager Mike Rizzo, but it's nothing the Nationals don't expect by now.
The last two drafts, they've selected and signed the two highest-profile picks Boras has represented in years. They have so many notable Boras clients on their team - Strasburg, Harper, Jayson Werth, Danny Espinosa, Ivan Rodriguez, Jesus Flores and Rick Ankiel among them - that it's become a running expectation in baseball that Boras' players will end up in Washington. He's made a habit of stocking his players on certain teams, and it's worked well for some of those clubs in the past (the Tigers went to the World Series in 2006, and the Red Sox won two championships stocking their roster with Boras clients). There's no reason to expect the Nationals won't get deals done with Rendon, Meyer and Goodwin, but they probably will have to wait until close to midnight to finish them.
By next summer, this could all look different - a new collective bargaining agreement is likely to be in place by next season, and that might mean a more concrete process for signing draft picks. For now, though, the Nationals brass will spend tonight in what's become a familiar spot - hunkered down in a conference room, hammering out details with Boras (and other agents) in an annual game of beat-the-clock.