Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to make his first spring training start next Tuesday against the Tigers, but manager Jim Riggleman indicated again this morning that the 21-year-old phenom will likely begin this season in the minors.
I think it’s going to come down to a philosophical decision more so than a performance decision. We anticipate that he is going to throw great. I think it’s going to come down to, what is going to be best for Stephen Strasburg as an organization. I have been very impressed and I continue to be impressed. I’m not trying to dodge the question at all, but I’m going to be impressed with a lot of guys, but some of them are not going to make the club.
At this point Strasburg’s entire professional track record consists of 19 innings in the Arizona Fall League and he won’t be 22 years old until mid-July, so with the Nationals unlikely to contend for much of anything in 2010 it makes little sense to rush him. If he’s indeed already capable of dominating in the majors Strasburg can prove it by first blowing away Triple-A hitters for a dozen starts.
At that point the Nationals can call him up for remaining two-thirds of the year and also delay the start of his service time enough to push back his free agency another season. Obviously everyone wants to see what Strasburg can do now and Nationals fans could use something to get excited about, but ultimately having him around for 2016 is probably more valuable than having him around for the first two months of 2010.
Colby Rasmus isn’t ready to take outfield reps just yet. According to Rays’ manager Kevin Cash, that’s a red flag, one that could potentially postpone Rasmus’ debut as the club’s designated hitter and outfielder in 2017. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that Rasmus will need to prove he can play a defensive position before getting cleared for the active roster, something which the veteran outfielder has yet to do this spring.
Rasmus, 30, signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Rays following his two-year run with the Astros. He batted a meager .206/.286/.355 with 15 home runs and a .641 OPS in 2016 and was shut down in late September with an unspecified hip/groin issue. Entering the 2017 season, he’s expected to work his way back to a full-time role after undergoing surgery to repair his core muscle and left hip labrum last October.
The Rays also finalized their one-year, $1.2 million deal with catcher Derek Norris on Saturday and will need to clear room for him on the 40-man roster. Topkin speculates that the move could send Rasmus to the 60-day disabled list, though the outfielder is not projected to miss more than a couple weeks of the regular season.
The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.
It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.
According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.