There are some rumbling coming out of the Nation’s Capital that the Washington Nationals are considering moving Stephen Strasburg this winter. It really comes as no surprise, as the team invested a ton of money into Max Scherzer this past offseason and he is the team’s ace. Strasburg has a golden arm, but has failed to put it all together.
The San Diego native would be a nice fit for the Padres, but the teams don’t really match up trade-wise. The Nationals already obtained two of the Padres best prospects in a three-way trade with the Tampa Bay Rays last season. Both Trea Turner and Joe Ross made impressive debuts for the Nationals in 2015. The Padres have no other top prospects to deal, and would probably be hesitant to move more prospects at any level to the Nats.
Strasburg will be in the last year of arbitration eligibility before being declared a free agent after the 2016 season. He is represented by super agent Scott Boras and will likely command top dollar on the open market. It is not clear if the San Diego Padres can afford Strasburg long-term, so acquiring him would probably be more of a rental than anything. Who knows with this ownership group, though.
Strasburg pitched for San Diego State University and was the top selection in the 2009 draft. He has a very close following in San Diego and would be welcomed with open arms to America’s Finest City. Strasburg owns a career record of 54-37 with a 3.09 ERA and a 1.092 WHIP. He has struck out 901 batters in his 776 innings and 132 starts. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff, but has failed to stay healthy.
During the 2015 season, Strasburg missed some time with minor injuries, but still went 11-7 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.107 WHIP. He made 23 starts, striking out 155 in 127 innings pitched. Strasburg was truly dominant in the second half of the year when finally fully healthy.
The Nationals were a failure this season and the front office is looking to make some moves. Strasburg could be an important trade chip for the Nationals. They have some issues as Jordan Zimmerman, Ian Desmond and Doug Fister are all scheduled for free agency. The Nationals really do need to make some important decisions for their future. Strasburg was once considered the face of the franchise, but things have changed. With a year like the Nationals had, anything is possible in regrouping this team.
Could the Padres package Derek Norris or James Shields for Strasburg? The Nationals would surely have interest in Norris (a former prospect in their system), but Shields will probably be a tough sell. Then again, he would make a perfect complement to Scherzer at the top of their rotation. Shields is due a lot of money for the next three years, and that is a big factor in the Padres potentially dealing him. Andrew Cashner is another interesting option. He is in the same boat as Strasburg as far as entering his last year before free agency. It would take more than Cashner to wrestle Strasburg away from the Nationals, but that could be a decent starting point for a deal.
A.J. Preller is determined to change the culture in San Diego and for the Padres. This franchise is on the verge of something very special and a potential trade like acquiring Stephen Strasburg could be key. He has perennial Cy Young award-winning stuff and being a native San Diegan doesn’t hurt either as far as Padres fans are concerned.