Right-handed starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg is opting out of the final four years and $100 million remaining on his contract with the Nationals, according to a report Saturday night from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.
BREAKING: Stephen Strasburg has opted out of the final four years and $100M of his deal with the Nationals.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 3, 2019
While it’s certainly possible that Strasburg could end up returning to Washington on a new deal, there are a couple factors complicating that possibility. First of all, Strasburg had time between the end of the World Series and the opt-out deadline to negotiate an extension with Washington and obviously chose to hit free agency rather than coming to an agreement with the Nationals. Additionally, Strasburg’s agent is Scott Boras, who is well-known for encouraging his clients to get the most money no matter what, with those players often eschewing comfort, familiarity, and any emotional ties they may have to a team in order to get the absolute biggest paycheck possible.
While it would certainly be nice for Strasburg to play his entire career with the Nationals — the team that drafted him first overall in 2009 — he’s already helped to bring them their first-ever World Series championship and will be remembered as a legend in D.C. no matter what he does now. He may very well be OK with just making the most money he possibly can at this point, reducing his focus on the makeup of a roster or its chances to win a World Series since he’s already won a ring. With his hometown Padres looking to snap a streak of nine straight losing seasons and the nearby Dodgers perhaps willing to hike up the payroll a bit as they get more desperate to snap their 30-year championship drought, Strasburg may have an opportunity to make more money while also being closer to home.
The 31-year-old Strasburg certainly did all he could to boost his value this season, posting a 3.32 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP, 251 strikeouts, and 56 walks over an NL-best 209 innings. He was even better in the postseason, pitching in six games (five starts) and throwing for a 1.98 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP, 47 strikeouts, and just four walks over 36.1 innings. His masterful start in Game 6 of the World Series may have been the turning point in the underdog Nationals being able to take the series from the Astros.