World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg, one of the most sought after free agents on the Major League Baseball market this offseason, set off speculation that he may land with a southern California club when he was spotted at a Los Angeles Clippers basketball game on Friday evening. According to the Talk Nats Twitter account, Strasburg — who is rarely seen in public off of a baseball field — was seated, "Near the bench. Near cameras. In L.A., let the rumors begin."
Strasburg, who has spent all 10 seasons of his MLB career with the Washington Nationals, opted out of his contract following the Nats World Series victory over the Houston Astros. The move made Strasburg a free agent for the first time.
The 31-year-old is a native of southern California, attending high school just outside of San Diego and playing his college baseball at San Diego State University. Almost as soon as Strasburg declared his free agency following the World Series, reports surfaced that the San Diego Padres would pursue Strasburg, seeing the 2020 season as the first season in their "window of contention."
The Padres signed free agent shortstop Manny Machado to a 10-year, $300 million contract last offseason, and first baseman Eric Hosmer to an eight-year, $144 million deal the year before that. Nonetheless, the Padres managed to win only 70 games in the 2019 season, third-worst in the National League.Though the Nationals are expected to make a strong play to re-sign Strasburg, MLB Network baseball "insider" reporter Jon Heyman reported via Twitter that Strasburg would "seriously consider" a move back to his native Southern California.
"Dodgers, Padres and Angels all will seek starting pitching and could make plays for the SD native," Heyman wrote earlier this month.
In the video seen above, Strasburg is seated at the Friday Clippers game next to his agent Scott Boras, whose offices are in Newport Beach, California, which is about a 45-minute drive south of Los Angeles. That Strasburg was seated with the super-agent raises the possibility that the sighting may not indicate his interest in signing with a Southern California team at all. Rather, he may have simply been meeting with Boras, who took his prized client to a Clippers game.
One obstacle facing Strasburg in the free agent market may be his injury history, according to SB Nation. The pitcher underwent Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2010, his rookie season.
On the other hand, odds of a player requiring a second Tommy John procedure are low, according to reporter Ken Rosenthal, quoted by SB Nation. When a pitcher does require a second Tommy John, it usually happens within four years of the first surgery. Nine years have now passed since Strasburg's surgery.