The last time Nationals fans saw Stephen Strasburg, he was standing on a stage in Washington D.C. being forced into a group hug by several teammates.
Now a free agent after opting out of the remaining four years of the extension he signed in 2016, Strasburg has put himself in a position to sign with any team he pleases ahead of next season.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s headed out of the District. MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported Monday that he thinks Strasburg could ink a deal with Washington before the Winter Meetings begin Dec. 8.
This would be a far cry from the trend demonstrated over the last two offseasons, when the biggest names waited until Spring Training to sign mega-deals—some even waiting well into the season.
"A lot of teams want Cole. A lot of teams want Rendon. I think these two guys may move faster because they're not going to have to manufacture markets for them,” Feinsand said on MLB Network. “These guys are in demand. It's going to be a matter of who's willing to give them the most money, but I don't think these two players are going to be the ones who are going into deep February [unsigned]."
The Nationals certainly have the payroll flexibility to sign such a deal after Strasburg, Anthony Rendon and Ryan Zimmerman’s significant salaries all came off the books. Signing Strasburg early would also suit Washington well, giving it the chance to modify its approach to addressing other needs accordingly while most of the other free agents are still on the market.
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