In what was somewhat expected news, it was reported this week that Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg planned to opt out of the final four years and $100 million on his contract and test free agency this winter.
The right-hander has proven to be one of the best starters in baseball over the last handful of years, and that was especially the case in 2019. Strasburg had a strong regular-season campaign for the Nationals, leading the National League in wins with an 18-6 record to go along with a 3.32 ERA, 3.25 FIP and 1.04 WHIP with 251 strikeouts and 56 walks in 209 innings.
He was at his best when the lights were brightest in the postseason, going 5-0 in six games (five starts). Strasburg has proven to be a big-game pitcher, yielding a 1.46 ERA in 55.1 career postseason innings.
He made two starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series and went 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA, and then went 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA in two World Series starts against the Houston Astros to earn MVP honors.
It is unclear how likely it is that Strasburg will remain in Washington after opting out, but according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network, some within their organization are confident that will be the case despite expected interest from the Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and his hometown San Diego Padres:
Some Nats people still like their chances to keep Strasburg despite rumors he’ll seriously consider Southern California. Dodgers, Padres and Angels all will seek starting pitching and could make plays for the SD native.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) November 3, 2019
As Heyman noted, the Dodgers will likely be in the market for a starting pitcher this offseason with Hyun-Jin Ryu and Rich Hill both potentially leaving in free agency. They have already been linked to perhaps the best starter on the market in Gerrit Cole, who seems likely to leave the Astros.
With Strasburg opting out of $100 million in guaranteed money, he will likely be looking to command a long-term lucrative contract.
The Dodgers front office has been unwilling to hand out contracts of that nature in the past though, so it would not be surprising to see them sign another starter to a shorter-term deal considering all of the young pitching they already have in the organization.
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events and more!