Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg had a non-cancerous growth surgically removed from his back shortly after the season ended, agent Scott Boras told reporters, including James Wagner of the Washington Post, at today’s GM Meetings. As Wagner points out, the news contradicts a statement made yesterday by Nats GM Mike Rizzo, in which he said the Nationals didn’t have any postseason surgeries. Back and oblique issues sent Strasburg to the disabled list on multiple occasions this season, and the right-hander carried a 6.55 ERA through his first 10 starts before turning around and dealing to the tune of a 1.76 ERA with a 110-to-12 K/BB ratio across his final 13 starts (82 innings). It’s easy to imagine the growth serving as the root of many of Strasburg’s back issues in 2015. The former No. 1 overall draft pick is arbitration eligible for the final time this offseason and will likely be the market’s top free agent following the 2016 season.
A few more notes on the Nationals…
- Wagner also reports (via Twitter) that the Nationals are interested in Ben Zobrist. Washington has been interested in Zobrist in the past as well, and the versatile switch-hitter could factor into the team’s plans in the infield or in the outfield. Of course, the Nats would face steep competition in the market for Zobrist, who is drawing widespread interest due to that versatility and his long track record of above-average production at the plate.
- While many have speculated that the Nationals could look to upgrade at catcher, Rizzo spoke highly of Wilson Ramos despite a down season in 2015. “He was No. 1 in throwing runners out. He was up for a Gold Glove,” said Rizzo. “He was one of the top in National League in home runs and RBI. He had a down year in getting on base, not like he should, and hitting for average. But as far as a guy, as catchers go, really had some impact in the lineup with power, RBI and catch-throw skills were fine. We like Ramos. He’s a guy that it would be difficult to find a better replacement for.” The Nats have been listed as a speculative fit for Matt Wieters, especially considering Ramos’ 2015 struggles and his status as a free agent next winter. However, Rizzo’s comments line up with previous reports indicating that Washington will not be a serious player for the market’s top free-agent catcher.
- Ian Desmond said in a recent MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM appearance (MLB.com video link) that he would “love to give [the Nationals] an opportunity to tell me the direction that they’re moving in and go from there” when discussing the Nats. It’s expected that Desmond will sign elsewhere, and while he could sign with any club, he did say in that appearance that he “loves the National League game” and considers himself a “National League guy,” though he of course didn’t rule out signing with an American League club.