It’s long been considered a longshot for Bubba Starling to opt for a Nebraska football scholarship over a multi-million dollar offer from the Kansas City Royals. A Lincoln beat writer went so far as to write earlier this month that there was only a “10 to 15 percent chance” that Starling would stick with the Cornhuskers and play football.
Very early this morning, those odds, as expected, officially went down to zero percent.
With a midnight deadline looming to work out a deal with the Royals, multiple reports surfaced that Starling has reached an agreement on a three-year contract. The Royals subsequently confirmed the signing
Details such as the amount of a signing bonus have not yet been confirmed, but it had previously been reported that his guaranteed dollars would be somewhere between $7.5 million (what the Royals were looking to pay) and $10 million (what Starling and his agent, Scott Boras, were seeking). Rumors are, however, that the signing bonus is much closer to the former than the latter.
On the Royals’ postgame radio show early this morning Eastern time, general manager Dayton Moore said that talks with Starling’s camp “didn’t heat up until the last five or six minutes. I got a lot of adrenaline right now.”
Shortly after word broke that Starling had opted for baseball over football, Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini released a very classy statement addressing the situation.
“Everyone associated with our football program at Nebraska wishes Bubba nothing but the best in his future with the Kansas City Royals organization,” the statement read. “I know this decision has been very difficult for Bubba and his family, as it would be for anyone in his position. In the end, Bubba was in a win-win situation regardless of his choice, and we respect the decision he has made. I personally will root for Bubba in every game except when he plays against the Indians!”
The Royals also released their own statement on the signing.
“We are ecstatic and relieved to have this process behind us and have Bubba in the fold,” Moore said. “I am extremely proud of J.J. Picollo, Lonnie Goldberg and the entire staff for the work they’ve done during these negotiations, not just in the Bubba Starling case, but all of the athletes we were able to sign on this very busy day. I’m also thrilled that we were able to come to an agreement with a fine young man from this area who put being a Royal among his priorities in this process. It’s now time to get his professional playing career underway.”
Starling had been in Lincoln since last month working out with his teammates, but did not participate in any of the summer camp practices and was not listed on NU’s 105-man roster. The fact that he left Lincoln last Thursday to return home was seen as a sign by some that he was heavily leaning toward signing with the Royals.
Starling was the No. 6 football athlete in the country for the Class of 2011 according to Rivals.com as well as the fifth-overall pick in the June MLB draft. The Gardner, Kan., native would’ve played quarterback for the Cornhuskers had he followed through on the Letter of Intent he signed this past February.