The case for and against trading Stephen Strasburg

The case against trading Stephen Strasburg

Trading Strasburg now would signal a waving of the white flag in Washington. A team that started the 2015 season with World Series aspirations missed the playoffs, and there are now those who wonder if the team should begin rebuilding. Trading Strasburg would start that rebuilding process, but is it really the time for that?

As established above, the Nationals do not have the best farm system in the league, but it is far from the worst. There is some good talent in the lower levels that could be ready in three years. As the team is currently assembled, there is enough talent present to continue winning. The Nationals will get younger next season with Ian Desmond and Denard Span likely on their way out and giving way to Turner and Michael Taylor. Anthony Rendon should also bounce back big next year, and Harper is Harper. Joe Ross showed he has the ability to be at worst, a number-two starter, and Lucas Giolito could be in the league by the end of 2016. A rotation of Scherzer, Strasburg, Ross, Gio Gonzalez, and Giotito should still be plenty good to get in the playoffs.

Finally, there’s Strasburg’s performance in the second half to consider. He finally lived up to the lofty expectations heaped upon him when he was drafted and his debut was christened ‘Strasmas.’ The only pitchers better than Strasburg in the second half of the season were arguably only Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw. Strasburg was more dominant than Zack Greinke. Strasburg’s changeup and curveball were ridiculously dominant following his return. He ended 97 at-bats on his breaking or offspeed pitch, struck out 50, walked only two, and allowed a .113 batting average. Strasburg had a 14-, two 13-, and a 12-strikeout game in the second half. He walked only three batters in those four starts.

If the Nationals are serious about contending for the World Series, can they really move forward without Strasburg? The Nationals signed Scherzer to a seven-year deal over the age of 30. If you are willing to do that, how can you justify trading away Strasburg, who will be only 28 when he enters free agency? How do you spin this decision to Bryce Harper before he enters free agency if Strasburg moves on and flourishes. Any other top-of-the-rotation arm the Nationals would hope to add to replace Strasburg would likely cost just as much. Moving away from veterans like Desmond, Span, and Jayson Werth will allow the Nationals to save enough money to afford Strasburg’s next contract.

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