Jon Heyman reports that the Nationals have re-signed free agent starter Stephen Strasburg. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, the deal is for seven years and $245 million. It’s a record for both annual average value and total value for a free agent pitcher. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, $80 million of the total value of the contract is deferred, in true Nationals fashion. Deferrals reduce the present-day value of the deal. [Update: Per Jared Diamond of The Wall Street Journal, $80 million is deferred with interest, which won’t affect the present-day value.]
Strasburg, 31, opted out of his previous contract with the Nationals last month. He had four years and $100 million remaining on what was a seven-year, $175 million extension. By opting out, Strasburg fetched an extra three years and close to $145 million.
During the past regular season, Strasburg led the National League with 18 wins and 209 innings pitched while compiling a 3.32 ERA and racking up 251 strikeouts opposite only 56 walks. He shined in the postseason, limiting the opposition to nine runs on 30 hits and four walks with 47 strikeouts across 36 1/3 innings. Strasburg’s performance earned him World Series MVP honors as the Nationals won their first championship in franchise history.
Nationals managing principal owner Mark Lerner recently said that his team can’t afford to bring back both Strasburg and free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, so the Strasburg signing seems to also imply that Rendon is headed for greener pastures.
Strasburg’s contract will have a major effect on free agent starter Gerrit Cole, as he is expected to fetch more than Strasburg. It is now quite realistic that Cole approaches or perhaps even exceeds $300 million in total value.