John Lepore | November 3rd, 2019
Stephen Strasburg has opted out of the remaining four years of his contract with the Washington Nationals. The World Series MVP is now a free agent. So after walking away from $100 million, where will the 31-year-old righty go now? Let’s take a look at the likely destinations.
Washington Nationals – There is a good working relationship between Strasburg’s agent Scott Boras and Washington’s GM Mike Rizzo. The team drafted Stras first overall in 2009, and he has spent his first 10 years in the majors with the club. I’m sure Boras and Rizzo started talks before Strasburg’s official decision yesterday. This could be similar to the negotiations between Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers last year at this time. Kershaw opted out of the remaining two years of his deal to sign a three-year deal worth $93 million with incentives possibly pushing it higher. Strasburg was owed $100 million for the remaining four years of his contract. He will likely earn more than $30 million per year on a new deal.
Los Angeles Dodgers – LA may be looking to make a splash in free agency and give themselves a big three at the top of the rotation with Strasburg, Kershaw, and youngster Walker Buehler. They have about $174 million on the books for this year assuming they don’t pick up Jedd Gyorko‘s $13 million option. Considering Kershaw’s past struggles and Strasburg’s success in their postseason careers, this could be a move the Dodgers make. If LA can backload the contract a bit, they could stay below $200 million and still have a little wiggle room below the $208 million luxury tax threshold.
San Diego Padres – Stephen Strasburg is from San Diego and went to college at San Diego State. The former Aztec may want to head home and join an up-and-coming Padres squad. They have spent money the past couple of years signing Eric Hosmer and Manny Machado to anchor a young team highlighted by young stud Fernando Tatis Jr. The pitching staff is rounding into form featuring Chris Paddack, Dinelson Lamet, and Joey Lucchesi. With top prospect MacKenzie Gore on the way, Strasburg could look to come home especially if the Padres are willing to give him the most years.
Los Angeles Angels – Their pitching staff has gone through some rough times in the past few years. Shohei Ohtani‘s Tommy John surgery, Garrett Richards injuries, and of course the tragedy of Tyler Skaggs’ death have certainly hamstrung this team’s pitching. They used 19 different starting pitchers this past season, yet no one started more than 18 games. They are in a similar money situation as the Dodgers. The Angels will owe about $170 million if they decline to pick up Kole Calhoun‘s $14 million option. They could also backload the contract a bit as they will have Albert Pujols and his albatross contract coming off the books after 2021. Strasburg, along with Ohtani, could be the one-two at the top of the rotation that the Angels could build around for the next five years.
Other Teams in the Mix:
New York Yankees – With James Paxton and Masahiro Tanaka set to be free agents after this season, the Yankees could bring in Strasburg to pair with Severino for the next five years and also give the Bronx Bombers a formidable foursome in 2020.
Milwaukee Brewers – They probably won’t spend the money, but they’ve been on their window is now and they’ve come close. An ace like Strasburg could be the piece to put them in the World Series.
Minnesota Twins – Like the Brewers, they probably won’t spend the money. The Twins are a team looking to be around for a while with their young bats. What they need is a starter to go with Jose Berrios. Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, and Kyle Gibson are all free agents so restocking that rotation should be Minnesota’s top priority.
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