Having handed free agent right-hander Max Scherzer an enormous seven-year deal yesterday, the Washington Nationals now face enviable questions with regards to how they will field their rotation next season. According to USA Today's John Perrotto, the odd man out in Washington's rotation may end up being Stephen Strasburg, who Perrotto notes is "very much available" and that "both sides believe it is time to move on."
The potential of a Strasburg trade is somewhat surprising considering his standing in the organization and the high volume of speculation surrounding a trade of either Jordan Zimmermann or Doug Fister, both of whom are scheduled to reach free agency next winter. Meanwhile, Strasburg is under club control for two more seasons.
The 26-year-old Strasburg has been quite good since returning from Tommy John surgery in late 2011, steadily increasing his inning totals over the past three years, reaching 215 in a league-high 34 starts last season. It's also fair to say that Strasburg, who owns a 128 career ERA+ and 2.84 FIP in 109 starts, still has a considerable amount of potential remaining. In 2014, he was quite brilliant, even without an uber-impressive ERA (3.14 ERA, 119 ERA+). He posted a 2.94 FIP (4th in NL) with 242 strikeouts (1st), a 10.1 K/9 (2nd), 1.8 BB/9 (10th), and 4.3 WAR (5th).
If Strasburg were to become available, Washington would figure to receive a bounty of calls, as he would make sense as a fit with pretty much every team in baseball. Of course, few clubs would possess the bevy of young talent it would likely require to pry him away. One such club could be the Boston Red Sox, as Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal speculates due to the club's rich farm system and lack of an ace. However, MacPherson sees Zimmermann and Fister as more logical fits due to their one-year commitments and seemingly lower asking prices.
Of course, it's not a given that the Nationals deal any of their starters. Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears that the club plans on keeping the gang together and heading into 2015 with a sort of "super rotation." The Nationals' rotation was already perhaps the best in baseball going into Sunday, and Scherzer's addition certainly improves the pitching staff, allowing 2014 revelation Tanner Roark to move to a relief role where he could jump immediately back to the rotation were a nearly inevitable injury to occur.