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Washington Nationals looking out for Stephen Strasburg in 2012 factored in decision to sign long-term deal in D.C.

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Scott Boras and his client, Stephen Strasburg talked openly about the Nationals’ handling of his TJS rehab as a factor in his decision-making in staying with the organization.

St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals Photo by Rob Tringali

“I think from day one, when I first signed here, it was a very new experience for me,” Stephen Strasburg explained after he and the Washington Nationals agreed on a 7-year/$175M extension in May of 2016.

Strasburg, then 26, was set to hit free agency after the ‘16 season, but he and the Nats worked out what his agent, Scott Boras, made clear was a player-driven deal to keep him in D.C.

”Being from Southern California, that was something that I knew,” Strasburg said.

“But over the last few years, the city of D.C. has really grown on my family and we’re very, very comfortable here and to see the commitment not only to the players they bring in but the guys that they draft, it’s a lot of high character guys. A lot of guys with a lot of talent.

”I really feel like this organization is going to be winning and succeeding for many years to come and I definitely want to be a part of that.”

Strasburg also said at the time that the way the Nationals handled his Tommy John surgery and rehab, played a big role in his thought process.

With the club headed for the postseason in 2012, his first full year back following procedure, Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo and Co. in the front office in the nation’s capital stuck with their plan to limit the right-hander to a prescribed number of innings/pitches, ending his year during the stretch run in September.

“As a competitor it was a very tough pill to swallow,” Strasburg acknowledged, when asked to look back on the decision.

”But at the end of the day,” he said, “... you have to really look at what their intentions are. I think their intentions are that it’s an investment. They want me to be here pitching at a high level for a long time.

”Hopefully with this group of guys, we can have more opportunities to be in that spot again.”

“The ethic of this franchise was really medical first,” Boras told reporters at the time.

“It was listening to medical advice. It was, in advance of a season, saying that this player’s health was a priority that exceeded all others.

”I know for me and for the industry and for the player, certainly those things -- it’s an ethic that you don’t forget in an ownership.”

Strasburg didn’t forget. After a strong regular season and a World Series MVP-worth run in the postseason, on the way to a championship victory this season, he opted out of the final four years and $100M left on his extension before returning to the Nationals on a 7-year/$245M deal.

According to Boras, the pitcher still had the team’s treatment of him back in 2012 in mind when he once again decided to spurn other teams’ advances and stay with the only club he’s ever known in the majors, and the city he’s adopted as his second home.

“I think the Washington Nationals and Stephen Strasburg built a trust based upon an early position by [owner] Ted Lerner and the Washington organization and Mike Rizzo about the protection of a player,” Boras said.

“We came to them with doctor’s information about protecting a player that caused great concern about the team’s performance that year, but the club took a long-term interest in that player. I think that Stephen Strasburg has rewarded the Nationals with a championship, his performance, the World Series MVP, because of the position that this organization took to take the medical advice and protect the player long-term even though the immediate effect caused a great deal of animus among the club and the fans.”

“I must say that for Stephen, for him to establish a legacy and wear the curly-W for his career was something that was very important to him, and I think it was because he knew that people in this organization cared deeply about him and always cared about his interests and interests of his family, and because of that he decided to stay at home and stay in one uniform and remain a Washington National for the remainder of his career.”

Strasburg and the Nats will officially announce his new deal in a press conference in Nationals Park at 11:00 AM this morning.