This signing period didn't have the same urgency as last year's to me, which is good. I think last year I could imagine a scenario where the team didn't sign Strasburg. They hadn't committed a ton of money to anything. They let Aaron Crow walk after a bungled negotiation. Watching Strasburg slip through their fingers felt like a distinct possibility. Not so with Bryce. The Nats ponied up some cash in free agency. They paid out a ton of bonuses last year including a record deal for Strasburg. Bryce was going to sign. It was just a question of how much. (about 10 mill)
As for the signing himself, there's more question marks around Bryce than Strasburg, which also lends to the muted feel. Strasburg was the best pitcher drafted at least since Mark Prior. At 22 he was fully mature and every scout said he was destined to get to the majors as soon as the Nats felt like putting him there. Bryce is the best pure power prospect the draft has seen in a while, but he is not fully mature (in body and spirit) and they expect to see him play 2-3 years of minor league ball before possibly coming up. Without the quick (in baseball terms) payoff, there's less juice to the whole thing.
How Bryce will do? I got no idea, and nobody else does either (though other people's guesses are better than mine). The track record for #1 hitter draft picks is very good, but at the same time there's a bit more drama surrounding this kid than you would like. Up to now he's set himself up to look as good as he can, getting into close-by, low-level college ball with his brother and and dominating. That's better than dominating high school ball for sure, but he didn't face the talent of Division I ball and that's not even the talent he'll face in A ball. It'll be fascinating to see if he'll struggle with the big jump and if he does, how he'll react, without the support from family and the relatively familiar surroundings of Nevada. History tells us he'll make some impact in the majors but the Nats need him to be more than just Phil Nevin. We'll see.