Anthony Rendon is headed for the free agent market. Stephen Strasburg is expected to opt out of his extension, which has 4/$100 remaining, after he was named World Series MVP in Houston. And we know now that the Washington Nationals decided to decline the option in Matt Adams’ 1-year/$4M deal, which would have paid the 31-year-old, left-handed bat $4M next season.
The official announcement on Adams came this afternoon: “The Nationals have declined their portion of the Mutual Option for 2020 for Matt Adams,” the team announced on its Twitter feed. “Adams will be a free agent starting today.”
Adams, in his second year in D.C., finished the 2019 campaign with a .226/.276/.465 line in 111 games and 333 plate appearances, over which he hit 14 doubles and 20 home runs and finished at -0.1 fWAR.
Injury issues (a shoulder strain) limited Adams down the stretch, and in the postseason, with the veteran first baseman making just four total plate appearances between the NL Wild Card Game, NLDS, NLCS, and World Series. Will he be back with the Nationals for a third season in 2020 on a different deal? Or will the Nats go out and find another power-hitting left-handed bat this winter?
There are, of course, other decisions to make, for the Nationals and some of their players.
Stephen Strasburg had opt outs included in the 7-year/$175M extension he signed with the Nationals in May of 2016, which allowed him to potentially test the free agent market after both the 2019 and 2020 seasons, after he opted against going to free agency back in 2016.
“My theory on this negotiation was, it’s no different than preparing Max [Scherzer] for 30-year-old free agency,” Boras told reporters after Strasburg’s extension was announced in May of ‘16.
”He’s developing his pitches,” Boras added. “He’s becoming the statured pitcher that we all expect Stephen Strasburg to be.
”He’s healthy and he’s going to have the same right that Max or David Price or [Zack] Greinke or [Matt] Harvey or [Jake] Arrieta or [Gerrit] Cole all these guys have at 30 or 31.”
”They’re going to have that right to look into the free agent world.
”The other thing is we have the economics of the game, which are dramatically changing, so to have him have the ability to look at that not only in one year but in two was a very important part of that contract.”
Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo too discussed the opt-outs after the deal was announced.
“It was part of the negotiation and this is the first one I’ve ever done,” Rizzo said at the time of including the opt-outs.
“It seems to be the en vogue kind of ingredient to get a long-term deal with really good players. So we agreed to it and I think the contract is structured as such that it’s to the benefit of both parties.”
Strasburg, of course, just went (2-0) in two starts in the World Series, with a 2.51 ERA (four runs in 14 1⁄3 IP), three walks, 14 Ks, and a .222/.259/.407 line against in the Fall Classic.
He finished up the 2019 Postseason at (5-0), with a 1.98 ERA, four walks, 47 Ks, and a fairly impressive .221/.239/.368 line against in six games, five starts, and 36 1⁄3 IP.
Overall in the regular season, the 31-year-old right-hander was (18-6) with a 3.32 ERA, a 3.25 FIP, 56 walks, 251 Ks, and a .210/.271/.349 line against in 33 starts and 209 IP.
Washington Post writer Jesse Doughterty wrote on Friday, Strasburg, “is expected to [opt out], according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation, and then Washington will be just one of many clubs trying to sign him.”
Rendon is expected to test free agency this winter as well, with on-going negotiations with the Nationals thus far failing to produce an extension with the third baseman, who just put up a .328/.413/.590 line with seven doubles, three home runs, 11 walks, and 10 Ks in 75 PAs in the postseason, after a .319/.412/.598, 44 double, 34 home run, 117 run, 126 RBI, 7.0 fWAR regular season. Not a bad way to go into free agency.
Will any of them be back in Washington, D.C. in 2020? What does Ryan Zimmerman’s future hold, with the team expected to decline the $18M club option for next season, and instead buy the now-35-year-old first baseman out (for $2M) and negotiate a new deal that will keep him with the team for at least a 16th season?
The World Series JUST ended, but the 2020 campaign has already begun... as MASN’s Mark Zuckerman noted once the Fall Classic came to an end:
Asdrubal Cabrera, Brian Dozier, Jeremy Hellickson, Daniel Hudson, Howie Kendrick, Gerardo Parra, Anthony Rendon, Fernando Rodney and Jonny Venters all just officially became free agents. Can’t negotiate with other clubs for another 5 days, though. Welcome back to reality.— Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) October 31, 2019