The decision is in, and just as I predicted what he "should do", Bubba Starling has agreed to terms and will receive a team-record signing bonus of $7.5 million spread over 3 years with the Kansas City Royals.
He took the decision down to the last few minutes of the 12 a.m deadline on Monday to come to an agreement with the Royals as the 5th pick in June's draft. Finally it turned out that he couldn't say no to the money and the chance at playing for his hometown organization.
There were talks that the Royals might up their offer to $10 million dollars or more but general manager Dayton Moore stuck to the orginal plan in hopes of landing the crown jewel and it payed off.
A Royal discovery
The Kansas City Royals have had their eyes on Starling ever since he was a young teenager, beginning his career with Gardner-Edgerton High School. Starling lived just 30 minutes from Kauffman Stadium and he was invited to watch games and hit in their underground batting range. Now how often does that happen?
In 1999, the Royals had a chance to draft one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, who now plays for the nearby St. Louis Cardinals, Albert Pujols. This has left a bad taste in the mouths of many Kansas City fans. Very rarely are second chances given in life and the Kansas City Royals got theirs. As I stated in my last article, this was a "no brainer". Personally, as the decision came down to the last few minutes, I would've upped the offer slightly because this is a once in a lifetime (maybe decades) chance in getting the best. The Royals decided to hold steady at $7.5 million and didn't have to give anything more.
A look at the past and the future
Royals assistant manager J.J. Picollo described Bubba Starling as having a combination of speed, athleticism, power and the ability to play the field up the middle. The Royals feel like Starling has the makings of being a star player in the major leagues.
Starling will start in the minors and the Royals feel that playing in his "backyard" will give him the motivation to want to succeed with Kansas City.
So far playing in the Kansas City area has done Bubba Starling well. At Gardner Edgerton High School last spring he batted .481 and hit a home run every six at-bats. He played for team USA under-18 and batted .399 with 3 HR, 12 RBI, and 20 runs scored.
Yes, the interest is magnified because Starling is a hometown Kansas City native but if he didn't have exceptional talent the Royals wouldn't have been courting him for these past few years and offering him a large sum of money before he even steps on the baseball diamond. This is a win-win situation for all involved. The Royals organization get's their man, the fans will be happy because everyone loves a hometown hero and Bubba Starling, while proving himself in the minors and possibly the big leagues, is financially secure without the risk of losing out due to injury.
The football aspect
Football might very well be Starling's best sport. In his senior season he was recruited by every major program around after rushing for 2471 yards and 31 touchdowns. I think that he was inadvertently lucky to sign with the Big Ten's Nebraska Cornhuskers. He would've had to sit on the bench because although Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez might not have the arm strength that Starling has he played a similar role in being a bigtime running quarterback. Nebraska wasn't going to just discard Martinez, who is an established sophomore.
If Starling was to play for a college where there was a vacancy at the quarterback position it might be more enticing and he would've been forced to play immediately. This might be a more difficult proposition to walk away from.
Football and injuries go hand in hand. The risk was too great. Taylor Martinez was injured in his freshman season. Starling was one hit away from losing the $7.5 million dollars and the opportunity to play for the Royals organization. If he chose to wait 3 years his value might have decreased and he could've possibly been drafted by an unappealing team such as the Seattle Mariners.
Nebraska, "no harm, no foul"
The Nebraska Cornhuskers come away from this unscathed. Their starting quarterback is healthy and they're looking forward to starting the season, playing in the Big-Ten, and attempting to win a Big-Ten Championship this season. Who knows? Maybe Martinez might run for 2000 yards this season. The only way that they're affected is if their QB get's hurt.
As I've stated, this was expected but until it actually happens nothing is etched in stone. We don't know whether Bubba Starling will become the next Albert Pujols but the prospects of him being a solid major league player seems fairly certain. A lot of people will be watching to see if Kansas City made the correct decision and Bubba Starling made the right decision. In a worst case scenario (which isn't expected), Starling is young enough to return to football. Keep an eye out for this bright star. Maybe he can take the Royals back to the World Series from the days of Bret Saberhagen. He might even be able to make it to the Hall of Fame one day like Kansas City Royals star George Brett and you can remember the day that he was signed by the Royals.