The Washington Nationals and right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract extension on Monday. The Nationals have scheduled a press conference for Tuesday afternoon to publicly confirm the agreement.
The deal features an opt-out clause that may be exercised following the third or fourth year. The contract will take effect next season, so Strasburg may opt-out following the 2019 or 2020 season and become a free agent at age 31 or 32. The deal also includes incentives of up to $1 million for each season that he logs 180 innings.
Aside from the 2010 and 2011 seasons — which were both plagued by Tommy John surgery — Strasburg has been one of the most formidable starters in the Nationals’ organization since they drafted him in 2009.
By agreeing to this extension, Strasburg erases the negative impact his injury history might have had on a free-agent deal. Strasburg underwent the aforementioned elbow surgery in 2010, dealt with a back issue in 2013, and bickered with an oblique strain and neck tightness a year ago. The Nationals are clearly willing to look beyond Strasburg’s health problems, though, and secure him for the upcoming prime of his career.
Without the extension, Strasburg was poised to reach free agency at the conclusion of this year and figured to be the most sought after starting pitchers up for grabs. The free-agent class at the end of the season projects to lack a true top-tier class of starters. Some of the more known names set to hit the market include Andrew Cashner, R.A. Dickey, and Jeremy Hellickson.
Strasburg pairs well with rotation mate Max Scherzer, who received a seven-year, $210 million contract as a free agent in January of 2015. Strasburg and Scherzer serve as nifty mentors for Washington’s young and maturing starters, including Joe Ross and Lucas Giolito, even though Giolito is still in the pipeline.
In over 820 career innings with the Nationals, Strasburg has posted an earned run average of 3.07. In that same span, Strasburg has whiffed nearly five batters for every walk he has surrendered.