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.