In an article last December on the Washington Nationals' approach with several of their then-soon-to-be-free agents, Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell wrote about the importance of making the decisions on players such as Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann before they head into their final year of team control.
"When a player wants to stay in his original city and his team feels the same way," Boswell suggested, "the time to do business is two years before free agency — not one.
"The player still worries about injury and thus values monster-money security. With only one year left, human nature apparently says, 'Roll the dice.'"
In the article Boswell suggested that the person the Nationals should have been focused on at that point, since the likes of Desmond, Zimmermann and Doug Fister were all one year from free agency, was Stephen Strasburg, who could become a free agent after the 2016 season.
He did, however, note that Strasburg is represented by Scott Boras, "who lives to set new contract records and usually represents players who agree with that view. The result: sayonara scenarios."
That scenario, is of course playing out now with Desmond and Zimmermann, neither of whom appear likely to return to the nation's capital in 2016.
"The Lerners better not think they can use the money they are 'saving' on Zimmermann or Desmond to sign Strasburg a year from now," Boswell wrote then.
"Because, in my view, a deal done on that schedule will never get done."
Strasburg, 27, and the Nationals' 2009 no.1 overall pick, completed a tumultuous, injury-impacted campaign which saw him struggle with ankle and back issues early which affected his mechanics and led to a DL stint that lasted for nearly a month in late May-June.
Upon returning from the Disabled List, however, Strasburg was much-improved, going (8-2) in his final 13 starts, with a 1.76 ERA, 12 walks (1.32 BB/9), 110 Ks (12.07 K/9) and a .175/.208/.292 line against in 82 IP over that stretch.
Though he missed time with an oblique injury in July-August as well, Strasburg finished strong and showed signs of being the pitcher he was expected to be as the season drew to a close.
In a rumor-filled, mid-September article, FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported that "major-league sources" told him that the, "[Texas] Rangers were one of several clubs that talked to the Nationals about righty Stephen Strasburg last offseason," though they, "never got close to a deal."
"The talks were wide-ranging," Rosenthal wrote, "involving a number of names, sources said."
Were the Nationals merely fielding calls about a pitcher who was then heading into his next-to-last year of team control?
If they don't think that an extension is going to happen or aren't comfortable signing a long-term deal with a pitcher who has already had Tommy John surgery, will the Nationals entertain offers again this winter as Strasburg heads into his final season before free agency?
Can the Nationals allow the top pick of the 2009 Draft to walk after this season and take a compensatory draft pick in return? Is that enough?
If they get an offer worth more than they feel that pick is worth this winter, would the Nats consider dealing Strasburg?
Boston Globe columnist Nick Cafardo wrote this morning that there was, "[a] lot of buzz that the re-tooling Nationals could make the 27-year-old available."
Is that wishful thinking on the part of other GMs? Something the Nationals should entertain?
The Nationals also have Bryce Harper's future to consider? Harper, 22, can become a free agent after 2018, and with the season he just put together, there's likely to be plenty of talk about extending the 2010 no.1 overall pick as well.
Will the Nationals go into the 2016 campaign with Strasburg in the rotation and let him walk at the end of the season?
Should they trade him this winter if they don't think an extension is likely? Or should they sign the top pick of the 2009 Draft to a long-term deal now-ish?