10:20 pm: Boras and the Nationals plan to start re-negotiating Strasburg’s deal on Sunday, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (link). Of course, that’s no guarantee that the two sides will come to an accord, but it’s certainly noteworthy that both parties appear committed to sustaining a working relationship.
9:28 pm: In a development that promises to have far-reaching implications on this offseason’s free agent market, starter Stephen Strasburg has decided to opt out of the remaining four years and $100MM on his contract with the Nationals, as first reported by Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (link). As Feinsand notes in a follow-up tweet, the present-day value of the remaining money on his Nationals deal is closer to $88MM, due to the original agreement’s heavily deferred structure (link).
To say that Strasburg heads to the open market with momentum at his back would be a gross understatement. Always an excellent pitcher when healthy, the 31-year-old truly put it all together in 2019, leading his league in both innings pitched and wins, while maintaining typically pristine ERA (3.32) and strikeout (10.81 K/9) marks across 33 starts. And for a follow-up? The San Diego State product and former #1 overall pick laid waste to postseason hitters, allowing just 8 earned runs through 36.1 October innings; his two starts in the Fall Classic were dominant enough to see the righty named 2019’s World Series MVP, despite some tough competition from his offensive teammates. Strasburg will likely garner a fair deal of Cy Young support and now heads into free agency for the first time in his career with superagent Scott Boras as his sidekick.
The prevailing sense around D.C. has long been that the pitcher’s historical allegiance to the team that drafted him would lead to the two parties working out an extension. After all, it was just in 2016 that the hurler decided to extend with a seven-year, $175MM deal with Washington in advance of his impending free agency–a true rarity for a Boras client. However, today’s 12pm EST deadline for his opt-out decision came and went without word, and it appears that both parties declined to arrange a deadline extension to help facilitate negotiation around a new deal, as occurred with the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw last offseason.
Instead, Mike Rizzo and his Washington front office will likely find themselves negotiating for the starter’s services against the bidding of several other competing organizations in short order. All of the teams in Strasburg’s native Southern California appear as logical fits, with the Padres, Angels, and Dodgers all projecting to have both spending capacity and rotation needs this winter.