The Washington Nationals have solidified their starting rotation for years to come by agreeing to a seven-year, $175 million extension with hard-throwing righty Stephen Strasburg. An official announcement is expected later today.
Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post first broke the story on Monday with MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reporting the contract’s value. Heyman added that there’s deferred money in the contract although the exact terms are unknown. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported the inclusion of several opt out’s and bonuses in the deal.
Strasburg was the Nationals’ starting pitcher on Monday evening, where he pitched seven innings while allowing four earned runs, six hits, and striking out a season-high 11 batters. Through seven starts this season, Strasburg has accumulated a perfect 5-0 record with a robust 2.75 ERA 49 innings pitched. The Nationals are a perfect 7-0 in all the games that Strasburg has started.
While Strasburg offered no comment about his new contract following Monday’s 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres, he did express comfort playing in Washington.
“Growing up in Southern California, San Diego, all my life and stuff, the East Coast is a little bit of a change,” Strasburg told ESPN. “But the city of D.C. has been great to me and my family. It’s really grown on us. We’re very comfortable here.”
All told, the extension is surprising, as the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 Major League Baseball (MLB) draft was set to hit the open market following this season. A client of agent Scott Boras, who’s notorious for recommending his players test the open market in lieu of signing an extension, Strasburg will remain in our nation’s capital for at least three more years after 2016.
Strasburg would’ve headlined this offseason’s free agent class for starting pitchers.
At 27-years-old, Strasburg has shown dominance and difficulty staying healthy over the course of his seven-year MLB career. During his rookie campaign in 2010, Strasburg suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament, forcing him to undergo Tommy John surgery. He returned late in the 2011 campaign to make five starts, going 1-1 with a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings.
From 2012-14, Strasburg emerged as one of MLB’s top young starters. Over that three-year stretch, Strasburg accumulated a 37-26 record with a 3.10 ERA in 557-and-one-third innings (92 starts).
However, in his first full year following TJ surgery in 2012, the Nationals put Strasburg on a strict innings limit. The team shut him down following a tough outing on September 8, 2012, leaving the team shorthanded for the 2012 playoffs.
The Nationals’ decision to shut down Strasburg drew national headlines. It became a bigger issue when the team was eliminated from playoffs in five games by the St. Louis Cardinals; leaving a lot of imagination as to what the season could’ve been if he pitched.
“I’m not going to think about it, no,” Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo said to the Washington Post in mid-October following the team’s elimination from the playoffs.
“We had a plan in mind. It was something we had from the beginning. I stand by my decision. We’ll take the criticism as it comes. We have to do what’s best for the Washington Nationals, and we think we did.”
While nagging injuries have cost Strasburg time since 2012, his arm has not been an issue.
Moving forward, the Nationals have Strasburg and Max Scherzer locked up at least until 2019. Also, starters Gio Gonzalez (through 2018), Tanner Roark (2019), and Joe Ross (2021) have a long way to go before they reach free agency.
[Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]