The Nationals’ move to lock up Stephen Strasburg came out of nowhere, at least so far as public knowledge is concerned, and it’ll have wide-ranging repercussions for the organization and the broader market. Strasburg bypassed a chance at a major free agent sweepstakes to stay in D.C. for at least three seasons — that’s when he’ll have the first of two opt-out chances — and pick up a guarantee of $175MM over seven years. It’s a highly significant contract for many reasons, so it’s no surprise to see plenty of reactions rolling in:
- Agent Scott Boras provides some interesting details on the signing to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. After both sides gauged interest this spring, the agent and owner Ted Lerner hammered out the agreement over the weekend, per the report. Strasburg and his wife wanted to ink long-term with the Nats, said Boras, “so I really moved aggressive[ly] to get this deal done.” The super-agent says that the contract rewarded the organization for its “ethically and medically driven” handling of Strasburg through the Tommy John process, which also “has to do with why Stephen is so comfortable in Washington.” From the player’s side, the deal obviously keeps him where he wants to be, but also holds onto some upside. “For me, the big thing was the flexibility of the contract,” said Boras. “Stephen has a lot of security, and the opportunity to stay or leave. It works out well for both parties.’’
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs echoes that sentiment from an analytical perspective. He likes the idea of Strasburg taking the risk of pitching out the 2016 season off of the table, but also sees the merit in the club’s investment. As Cameron notes, Strasburg is younger than most free agent arms, and he could deliver plenty of value on the deal even if he ends up missing time over parts of it — particularly once the deferrals are accounted for.
- One notable element of this contract is that it sets a record for a Tommy John patient, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports notes. In the latest example of the Nationals’ investment in questionable elbows, Passan asks whether the organization is going against its own views of UCL replacement durability in making such a deal at this point in time. Jonah Keri of CBSSports.com also offers his thoughts, focusing in particular on the role of Boras and his cozy relationship with Nationals’ ownership.
- Jon Morosi of MLB Network argues that Strasburg’s absence from the coming free agent market could spur trade activity “far earlier than anyone expected.” ESPN.com’s Buster Olney likewise suggests that there’ll be increased focus on controllable starters from other clubs as a result of the move.
- I’m not sure I agree that the extension has a significant impact on this summer’s trade season, which already was likely to feature questions about high-quality starters who are currently under long-term control. Teams weighing deadline deals for starting pitching likely would not have changed their approach very much based upon the mere chance of landing Strasburg over the winter; after all, he would’ve been the clear prize and had multiple suitors, and his price tag would’ve been both astronomical and uncertain. Meanwhile, organizations with desirable trade assets may now actually see greater value in holding onto their arms, comfortable in the knowledge that there’ll be lots of demand even after the season. Plus, the Nats might well have been in the market for a rotation piece — and likely would’ve pursued Strasburg — had he not inked this contract, so the overall level of demand may not have changed much.
Nats will have no money by the time Harper becomes a free agent!
Just Another Fan
Not even remotely true with Werth, Papelbon, Zimmerman, Gio, Murphy, Kelley and a couple more coming off the books. If anything, knowing Stras and Scherzer will be there will make Harper want to stay, but I seriously doubt they do not lock him up before 2018.
Now if only they stop employing the absolute worst manager of our generation, maybe they might have a chance at a title. Til then, have fun watching Maddon run rings around him like he did the other night with all the walks. A smart manager would combat that by hitting Harper leadoff with the second hottest hitter on the team right behind him, but not Dusty. Expect more of Bryce hitting 3rd with a pile of dog crap behind him.
What manager has ever employed that strategy? This whole supposed issue is just the result of the pure happenstance of Harper coming up with a runner in scoring position and open base in late innings in such a short time frame. And then Zimmerman not delivering on any occasion.
I’d love to see how many people would be calling for Baker’s head if he had put Harper and Murphy back to back and they were both K’ed by a lefty reliever. I’m still a bit of a Dusty skeptic, but those labeling him a disaster are mostly just looking for facts to fit their narrative, best I can tell.
Just Another Fan
Don’t twist words: I’m only saying that Harper should lead off with the second hottest hitter behind him when Harper absolutely owns the SP, as he does with Arrieta. Plenty of managers have hit their best hitter 1 or 2 to give their team better chances of winning…Francona is hitting Santana leadoff right now would be one example.
The fact that you’re saying you’re “a bit of a Dusty skeptic” when he has over a decade of absolutely horrific management history shows you are either new to the game or were not paying attention. The Nats should be running away with this div, not tied with the overrated Mets. I fear for their season, Dusty is the absolute worst manager I’ve seen in my 40+ years of being alive.
You must have just started watching the game again. Since you obviously missed Matt Williams managing.
Santana is leading off because he walks, and the Tribe doesn’t have many who do. He is hardly their best hitter. He has a decent OBA and hits the occasional dinger. Not a fair comparison to Harper. You have noticed that Brantley does NOT bat leadoff. He would be Tribes closest comparison.
That would be an example of where you’re wrong? Lindor is a better hitter than Santana.
I’ve been impressed with how he’s interacted with the players, from what I’ve seen (and what little we can glean from the outside). I don’t remotely understand the notion that he’s preventing them from running away with the division due to bad decisions thus far. Best I can tell, his biggest sin has been trotting out Michael Taylor in the leadoff spot.
I’m aware of his history, despite your patronizing assumptions. But I’m not going to sit here and judge his present based upon his past, and I think you’re making entirely unsupportable claims regarding how much of a negative impact he’s had.
i cant figure out if “just aother fan” is a troll, or not sometimes.
Just Another Fan
I’m not. I just have different opinions to you.
Just Another Fan
Is this seriously what its come to? “This poster doesn’t think the same way I do, I disagree with what they say, ergo they are a troll.”
Stop thinking like that.
I’m in agreement with Just Another Fan. I could go either way with Harper and Murph 1,2 of Harper at 3. So I can see both sides here. However, Baker is easily a overrated manager. For someone regarded as a very good manager he’s hardly .500 and he has had some stellar teams with all 4 clubs and underachieved. Giants, Cubs, Reds, now with the Nats. He gets out managed in the playoffs and his teams get outmaneuvered. He’s an average manager who gets lucky with great players and still can’t put it together.
The tone of your posts certainty make you seem like a troll
He’s also consistently wrong
Worst manager of the generation? You’re the new guy to baseball — you must’ve missed Matt Williams last season.
At least they are keeping what they can
Your crazy they will have plenty!!
Just Another Fan
I think James Shields might opt out now, looking at a 4 or 5 year deal, because if Ian Kennedy can get that, he certainly can too.
It would be hilarious if the top 2 FA pitchers this offseason based on numbers alone were Bartolo and Rich Hill, which, very well might happen.
At this point, Kennedy is WAY better than Shields. Not even close. Shields used to be a stud, but is now back of rotation filler. Kennedy can still pitch and is quite a bit younger.
Just Another Fan
I wasn’t comparing the two, butKennedy is a back end SP too, you are way overrating him. My point still stands, I think if Shields throws 200+ IP he’ll get more than $40M this offseason.
Mike Leake is proof that if Shields goes 200 he’s getting paid. Back end rotation or even mid rotation guys who are innings eaters regardless of ERA are getting paid. $40M for Shields isn’t a stretch.
How is saying, “if Kennedy can get it, so can Shields” not comparing them? If you aren’t comparing them, then why are you even mentioning Kennedy in your sentence?
“Terrible, short-sighted contract by the Nationals! I’d be shocked if his arm can even make it through the 2016 season!”
– Dusty Baker
Did he actually say that? Or are you just being a moron?
He’s satirically lampooning Baker’s reputation for working his own pitchers into the ground.
What a Dip stick!
I agree that the trade market isn’t likely to be affected that much, if only because the Nats are in contention and weren’t likely to shop him much anyway.
Shields is constantly bashed in this forum and I don’t understand why? Is he a #1 starter who will be in the Hall of Fame one day? NO! Did Shields force the Padres to pay him what he’s being paid? No more than Strausberg, Price, Grienke or Scherzer or anyone else did. Sheids is being paid what the market will bear. Shields is what he is….a solid guy in the rotation who wins between 12-15 games a year and gives you 200 innings and has for nearly a decade.
Um, have you looked at Shields’ numbers in 2015 and 2016? He’s been awful. He’s in rapid decline phase right now – like, really rapid. 200 bad innings isn’t an asset, and who cares about pitcher wins.
Who cares about pitchers wins? You do understand the concept of baseball is to win games? Now….let’s look at JS’s numbers. He’s 1-5 this season and in his seven starts, the Padres have scored 11 runs. Not many pitchers can overcome that. His ERA is 3.60, which is lower than his career average and he’s given San Diego at least six innings in every start this year and is on target for 200 innings again! It’s EXACTLY what the Padres should have expected when they signed James. And that’s all you can ask of a FA…is to deliver what they paid you for. Last year, Shields was 13-7 for a terrible offensive team and again, 202 innings. JS is a successful FA signing for San Diego. The Pads main problem is an offense that was shut out the first three games this year and has been shut out six times overall and ranks near the basement in nearly all offensive categories—like last year.
If he delivers the innings and ERA, he’ll be a successful FA signing, sure. The point is, though, that you can’t reliably use pitcher wins to measure underlying talent or predict future success. Shields has shown many signs of decline, so if you’re a team thinking about acquiring him or signing him as a free agent (if he opts out), you will have to consider that along with the track record of good bottom-line results.
but you can look at the body of a pitchers work over the years and JS’s record is a model of consistency. As for his “many signs of decline”….I don’t see them. He is delivering what you should expect from James. He gives you six quality innings every start …and keeps you in the game. Last year he had a wonderful W-L record in spite of a team that was horrible offensively. This year…he’s 1-5 because his team has scored only 11 runs in his seven starts. That’s the yin-yang of baseball. But he’s again delivering what anyone can expect from JS. I think folks in this forum expect 18 wins…a 2.30 era. but that’s something he’s not capable of. If you were to sign him expecting more….it’s unreasonable. If you sign Price or Grienke…you DO expect more—and you pay more for it. Yes, he’s NOT a #1 starter …but he is for the Padres because they don’t have someone better. That’s not JS’s fault. He’s performing as expected.
I agree he is unfairly bashed and is a good 2-3 pitcher imo, but there is no way he is a hall of fame pitcher
A 1 win pitcher is not a 2-3 in any respectable rotation.
SD has scored 11 runs in Shields 7 starts. I doubt the record of many pitchers in baseball would be better given the same run support. The Cubs have scored 56 runs in Arrieta’s seven starts.
No one said he was a hall of fame pitcher.
Correct. He’s been a good, solid ML pitcher the last decade. The fact he or Leake are being paid a tremendous amount of money is a by product of the market.