Jim Bowden of ESPN confirmed on Monday night that the Washington Nationals and Stephen Strasburg agreed to a 7-year, $175 million extension. The deal reportedly has a rolling opt-out clause after year three or four. Strasburg could also receive up to $7 million in performance bonuses and will get an additional $1 million every season he pitches at least 180 innings.
The extension comes as a surprise, as Strasburg is a client of Scott Boras, who normally takes his clients into the offseason searching for a big-money deal. He is now the sixth-highest paid pitcher in baseball. One of the pitchers ahead of him is teammate Max Scherzer, who got a 7-year, $210 million deal last season.
The former No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 draft is 59-37 with a 3.06 ERA, 1.087 WHIP and 948 strikeouts in 818 2/3 innings pitched. He has a 10.4 K/9 ratio. He is currently 5-0 with a 2.36 ERA, a WHIP of 1.00 to go with 47 punch outs over 42 innings of work in six starts. He had a career-high in strikeouts in 2014 when he struck out 242 batters, tying the most in the National League that season.
Strasburg showed exactly why he was the No. 1 overall pick in his MLB debut. He pitched seven innings, surrendering just four hits and two earned runs while striking out 14 and walking none in a win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Two months later, Strasburg would have to undergo Tommy John surgery. He came back to the rotation in 2012 where he shined bright. He went 15-6 with a 3.16 ERA and 197 strikeouts and was named an All-Star for the first time and won the NL Silver Slugger Award for the pitcher position.
He is now the highest paid player who had Tommy John surgery. The previous record holder was former Nats teammate Jordan Zimmerman, who got $110 million over five years from the Detroit Tigers.
Some may question whether or not this was wise of the Nationals to pay Strasburg this kind of money, especially after undergoing Tommy John surgery and for a player who has made six trips to the disabled list. Others will question the deal due to how Strasburg has performed in his little over seven years of MLB service. He has only one season with over 200 innings pitched and in none of the seasons has his ERA been below three.
On the flip side of that, over the course of his last 16 starts, stemming back to last season, he is 11-2 with a 2.08 ERA, a WHIP of 0.85 and 139 strikeouts, while only issuing 17 walks in 108 1/3 innings pitched. He has shown he can be an ace of a staff and now is paired with Scherzer, the current ace of Washington’s staff, for the foreseeable future.
The hype surrounding Strasburg when he entered the league was extremely high and while he hasn’t had dominant numbers, he has produced extremely formidable numbers. He might not be the ace of the staff, but he has the potential to be and is a nice compliment to Scherzer.
At the end of the day, Mr. Strasburg got paid a large quantity of money to pitch for the Nationals and help them win a World Series. With his opt-out clauses potentially coming into effect, he can essentially hit the open market when he is 30 or 31-years old if he elects to do so and look for a larger contract. All that of course will depend on how well he pitches and how well the Nationals do from season to season.