Stephen Strasburg returning to the Washington Nationals was something that had been somewhat expected heading into free agency, but now we have a number to put on it.
According to multiple reports, the 2019 World Series MVP is staying in the nation’s capital on a seven-year, $245 million contract.
Strasburg and Nats have a deal— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 9, 2019
Stephen Strasburg’s deal with the Washington Nationals is for seven years and $245 million, a source tells ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2019
That number, $35 million per year, is the highest average annual value for a pitcher in league history. Beyond taking one of the two elite free-agent pitchers off the market, it now gives a number for Gerrit Cole, the other elite free-agent pitcher, to base his upcoming contract off of.
Currently, Cole is being most heavily connected to the Yankees and Angels. Strasburg returning to the Nationals takes the backup plan off the board for those teams. Does that increase the urgency from those teams and hasten negotiations?
Source: Gerrit Cole is increasingly likely to sign during this week’s winter meetings. His market is developing quickly, the source said, with the Strasburg signing giving further clarity. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) December 9, 2019
How much money does Cole get? He is two years younger than Strasburg so getting an eight-year deal isn’t out of the question. He’s also better than Strasburg so he will be expecting more money per year.
Stephen Strasburg’s deal with the Nationals is absolutely massive. It sets a new record for average annual value at $35 million a year. While there are deferrals, per source, the $245 million number could have a profound effect on the Gerrit Cole market. Is it $300M or bust now?— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 9, 2019
The next piece of fallout from Strasburg’s deal is what this means for Anthony Rendon. Rendon was the other marquee Nationals free agent and word from Nationals owner Mark Lerner was that the Nationals wouldn’t be able to keep both Strasburg and Rendon.
If that’s accurate, that means Rendon is headed elsewhere. Do the White Sox have a shot at him? There isn’t much out there to say the answer to that is yes right now, but any time the incumbent team appears to be out of the running there’s a shot something surprising happens.
Rendon’s connection to the White Sox is tenuous at the moment, but the South Siders have been more tied to other available pitchers like Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-Jin Ryu. With Strasburg off the board and Cole potentially signing soon, things could move quickly for the other available pitchers.