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Report: Stephen Strasburg opts out of contract with Nationals

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Big news, though unsurprising news at that: MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that starter Stephen Strasburg has opted out of the remainder of his contract with the Nationals to become a free agent. Strasburg had four years and $100 million remaining of what was in total a seven-year, $175 million extension.

Strasburg, 31, led the National League with 18 wins and 209 innings pitched along with a 3.32 ERA and a 251/56 K/BB ratio during the regular season. He was even better in the postseason, going 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA and a 47/4 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings, helping the Nationals win a championship and earning World Series MVP honors in the process.

It’s fairly certain Strasburg will be able to find many more years and many more dollars in free agency, so opting out was a no-brainer. Now the rest of the league will be able to pursue his services. Fellow free agent starter Gerrit Cole will likely set the market, so don’t expect Strasburg to sign until after Cole does.

Worth noting: Both pitchers are represented by Scott Boras, who has advised his clients in the past to wait out the slow free agent market, even into February and March, in order to get the deals they deserve. That could very well be the case again with Cole and Strasburg.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).