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Is Stephen Strasburg going to opt-out of his contract?

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Stephen Strasburg is, quite quietly, having a wonderful season. He’s 16-5 with a 3.47 ERA and a 215/43 K/BB ratio in 179 innings across 28 starts. When it’s all said and done he’s going to finish with either the best or second-best season in his career, depending on how you like to measure such things, with his other best or second-best season having come in 2017.

Which means that Strasburg, for all of the hype of his youth, is an ace in his prime. Which means it’s a pretty spiffy thing for him to have an opt-out in his contract this offseason if he chooses to take it. Will he? Jon Morosi is reporting that “there’s increasing speculation in the industry” that he will.

If he does, he’ll walk away from a guaranteed four years and $100 million. It’s structured rather oddly: $25 million next year and then $15 million in both 2021 and 2022, followed by a big $45 million payday in 2023. He also has a ton of non-interest-bearing deferred money still coming to him from the Nationals, payable in seven annual installments beginning in 2024, some amount of which will likely be reduced if he opts out. The accountants can figure that out.

Strasburg and Scott Boras have to figure out if they think Strasburg can do better if he hits a very thin free agent market. A market that currently has Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke making in the mid-$30 million range, Justin Verlander $33 million and David Price and Clayton Kershaw $31 million. Of course, they could also use the threat of an opt-out to get an extension and/or restructuring of his deal with the Nats.

What would you do?

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.