While the level of interest isn’t entirely clear, the Phillies are at least considering a move for veteran starter Stephen Strasburg, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). The organization is said to be “looking at” plucking a star from the division-rival Nationals for a second consecutive winter.
There are many other possibilities for Strasburg, who wrapped up an outstanding (and rather redemptive) season in D.C. before opting out of his contract in favor of the open market. As Heyman notes, there’s still a sense that Strasburg could well line up again with the Nats. But many of the game’s highest-spending organizations have already shown interest as well.
Strasburg would be a big addition to any rotation, but he’d be of particular import to a Phillies staff that was filled with struggles last year. Like many other teams, the Phils are looking both for impact and reliability. Stras has consistently delivered the former … at least, when healthy. Concerns with his durability are in some regards overstated. He’s fresh off of a dominant and complete season at 31 years of age. Since returning from Tommy John surgery, Strasburg has averaged 28 starts and 168 innings annually (including his infamous 2012 shutdown campaign).
While the Phillies have indicated trepidation at coughing up draft compensation to add a free agent, that’s simply the requisite ante to sit at the high-stakes table. Strasburg is a good enough player that teams can mostly ignore the lost draft capital. That’s particularly true now that he has thoroughly erased any doubts (as unjustified as they were in the first place) over his big-game capabilities. Recently crowned the World Series MVP, Strasburg has passed every test thrown at him in the postseason with flying colors. In 55 1/3 career playoff frames, he owns a sparkling 1.46 ERA with 11.5 K/9 and 1.3 BB/9.