MLB

Ranking the top contenders to sign Stephen Strasburg

Will Stephen Strasburg remain with the Washington Nationals, or will another MLB team be able to convince him to move on to a new home?

Hyped as a once-in-a-generation talent when he entered the MLB Draft, Stephen Strasburg has done plenty to prove the hype was justified in his 10-year career with the Washington Nationals. The 31-year-old is 112-58 with a 3.17 ERA and was the MVP of the 2019 World Series. He’s had his share of injuries, including Tommy John, but Strasburg has overcome it all and is working on a Hall-of-Fame career.

The right-hander made the unconventional decision to sign a long-term extension before his first chance at free agency. That seven-year, $175-million extension did come with an opt-out clause after three years, and Strasburg decided to leave the final four years and $100 million on the table. Now is his chance to really cash in. Having proven himself in the regular and postseasons, Strasburg has earned the right to join MLB’s $30-million-per-year aces.

Strasburg remains the total package as a starting pitcher and has become a more complete starter over his years in the big leagues. He has struck out 10.6 per nine in his career, but that number could be much higher if he had not learned to dial it back in certain spots and pitch to contact. Strasburg’s complete, overwhelming arsenal has been on full display in the postseason, where he has a 1.46 ERA in 55.1 innings and has struck out 11.5 per nine.

Six teams have emerged as the leading contenders to give Strasburg his next contract. The deal will run through the end of his prime years and could approach $200 million because if Zach Wheeler is getting $118 million, anything is possible. The Nationals remain the leaders to keep Strasburg, but how do the rest of the teams making a push rank?

HOUSTON, TEXAS – OCTOBER 23: Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals delivers the pitch against the Houston Astros during the first inning in Game Two of the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 23, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

6. Los Angeles Angels

Angels owner Arte Moreno is hellbent on signing Gerrit Cole, but if that doesn’t work out, he may set his sights more closely on Stephen Strasburg. The Angels met with both right-handed aces, who are both from California. Cole has more of a hometown factor with Los Angeles, as he grew up in Orange County. Strasburg is from San Diego, which is an entirely different world from LA.

It would be a complete shock to see Strasburg end up with the Angels. He is accustomed to contending for the playoffs every season and likely prefers to walk into a situation where that will be guaranteed. The Angels would need to sign both aces to set themselves up to topple the Houston Astros in the AL West. Anaheim has also been the place where promising pitching careers go to die. The Angels may have gotten a meeting with Strasburg, but there isn’t much reason to believe it was anything more than a formality.

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