As was reportedly the case last winter, the Washington Nationals are once again open to trading former number one overall pick Stephen Strasburg this winter. Strasburg, who is represented by Scott Boras, will be a free agent following the 2016 season. The San Diego native has posted a 54-37 record with a 3.09 ERA in his first six seasons. Strasburg’s rookie season ended early after 12 starts when he went under the knife for Tommy John surgery. The 27-year-old right-hander returned late in the 2011 season for a handful of starts. His 2012 season was infamously cut short due to a restrictive innings limit. The Nationals made the playoffs that year, but Strasburg did not pitch.
Strasburg made over 30 starts in 2013 and 2014. He led the National League with 34 starts in 2014, and recorded his first 200 inning season. Strasburg also led the league with 242 strikeouts in 2014. The beginning of the 2015 season saw Strasburg plagued by nagging injuries, but his arm remained healthy. Oblique, neck, and back injuries limited Strasburg’s effectiveness in the first half of the season. He had an ERA of 5.16 in 13 first half starts. When healthy in the second half of the year, Strasburg roared to a 6-2 record with a 1.90 ERA, and 92 strikeouts against only eight walks in 66.1 innings. This was the type of dominance that was expected of Strasburg when he was drafted with the first pick in the 2009 draft.
The Nationals underperformed this year and missed the playoffs. The direction of the franchise should be questioned in light of the team’s performance this year, and that should include considering a blockbuster trade of the pitcher who was arguably a top-five pitcher in the second half of the season.
A case can be made for and against trading Stephen Strasburg. Which side are you on?