Stephen Strasburg will burn through service time while on DL

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I hate to spread more icing on the Nationals’ bad news cake, but a side effect of Stephen Strasburg likely needing Tommy John elbow surgery is that he would burn through service time while on the disabled list.
In other words, even if he never throws a pitch in 2011 and spends the entire season on the 60-day disabled list Strasburg will use up one season of pre-arbitration status. That will push him one season closer to a raise via the arbitration process and, far more importantly, one season closer to becoming a free agent.
Or, put another way, because of the surgery the Nationals will likely go from having Strasburg under team control for six full seasons to having him under team control for five full seasons. And all after they so clearly (and smartly) manipulated the start of his service time clock by keeping him in the minors until mid-June.
Of course, the wasted service time really only becomes a big factor if Strasburg returns from surgery and re-establishes himself as an ace, in which case the Nationals will surely still be thrilled with the outcome even if they lost a year.