A crucial stretch for the Nationals

Updated: August 8, 2010, 3:09 PM ET
By Jason A. Churchill and Keith Law

Just about every team faces negotiations with a number of key draft picks during the next week; these negotiations will end up determining whether they had a successful 2010 draft. The Washington Nationals are high on that list of clubs, and the challenge they face goes beyond their famous first pick.

Bryce Harper is still almost certain to sign with Washington before the Aug. 16 signing deadline. He's coming off an unbelievable spring that would be hard for him to top next year, and the 2011 draft class is loaded with college players who might push him off the No. 1 overall spot, to say nothing of his strong desire to play pro ball that led him to leave high school after his sophomore year. But Harper is likely to sign for a figure that exceeds several teams' total draft budgets, and the Nationals also need to sign some of their later picks to end up with one of the top draft classes this year.