Stephen Strasburg is going to be a National for life. Strasburg’s 7-year/$245M deal should, if all goes as planned, keep him in Washington, D.C. for the remainder of his career, and it’s unique for a player to be drafted, extended, and then, after a World Series win and a brief time as a free agent, re-signed to a long-term deal that will keep him with one organization for his entire career.
“It’s really, really rare in baseball that someone can go and establish a legacy of his choice,” Strasburg’s agent, Scott Boras, told reporters during the press conference this morning to officially announce the long-term deal with the starter.
“They’ve demonstrated a caring for a player that often involved difficult decisions. We’re also pleased that in making the right decisions that it all turned out so well and rewarded the franchise with a championship.”
“I can’t think of many players that can be the No. 1 Draft pick, have a beautiful wife, lovely children, win a world championship, and get to carry out his career, as the goal of his mentor, in Tony Gwynn, to be a legacy player for a franchise, and that tells you how great Stephen Strasburg is.”
"There's no stopping us now." pic.twitter.com/Odf6updUpa— Nationals on MASN (@masnNationals) December 17, 2019
Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2009 Draft, was just named 2019’s World Series MVP after going (5-0) with a 1.98 ERA, four walks, 47 Ks, and a .221/.239/.368 line against over six games, five starts, and 36 1⁄3 innings pitched in the postseason.
His 2019 regular season ended with the 31-year-old right-hander (18-6) with a 3.32 ERA, a 3.25 FIP, 56 walks, 251 strikeouts, and a .210/.271/.349 line against in 33 starts and 209 IP.
Having spent ten years in the organization, Strasburg has seen the team grow as he’s had an opportunity to mature as well, into the pitcher and person he is today.
“I think we’ve come a long way as an organization,” he said when asked how far he’s come since his MLB debut in June of 2010.
“Looking back on 2009, it was a little nerve-wracking to be honest,” Strasburg explained.
“I’m a San Diego guy, and I didn’t really know what the East Coast had to offer. But the Nationals were there from the beginning. I became a father, became a husband, as a National. I’ve grown with this organization and it’s become home to me.
“I just want to thank the Lerners for giving me this opportunity to continue my career here.
“They’ve built one of the best organizations throughout the league, and their commitment to winning is one of the big reasons why I wanted to stay on board.
“Last year was the highlight of my career, going out there and starting the way we did and finishing the way we did, that’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.
“With that said, I’m excited to get back and do it again and getting that journey started in February.”
Strasburg acknowledged, as he said, that he’s been given a truly unique opportunity.
“It’s really hard to come by in this game and I think when you’re given an opportunity to be in one spot and grow as a person, as a player, and be a part of an organization like this, you can’t really let those opportunities go by. Looking back on when I got drafted, it’s amazing to see how all the experience have made me stronger as a person, and I think that through the adversity, that’s what I’ve learned, to kind of welcome the challenge, and know that it’s just not going to be easy, and know that it’s something you put your head down and you keep working on it, you can achieve anything.”
Nats’ GM Mike Rizzo, who took over at the helm in the nation’s capital in 2009, and signed the pitcher after he was taken first overall that June, handled his rehab from Tommy John surgery, shut him down in 2012, extended him in 2016, and re-signed him this winter, has overseen Strasburg’s development into the pitcher and man he is today.
“When we scouted him as a starting pitcher in San Diego State, we realized that this was a special talent, had a lot of gifts, his repertoire was great, he had the size, the delivery, and stuff to be an elite major league starter,” Rizzo said today.
“But what we found over the years is that he’s a better teammate and a better man than he is a pitcher, and he’s a pretty damn good pitcher.”
Now that Strasburg and the Nationals have reunited, after they won it all this past October, they get to try to do it all over again, with a roster that will resemble the 2019 club, though with some notable differences.
But as Strasburg said today, he and his teammates are up to the challenge.
“I think it’s funny, you go win the World Series and everybody starts to write you off for next year, so I think that’s pouring gas on the fire for me and I think for a lot of other guys, so it’s really there’s no stopping us now. We’re going to go into next season like we did last year, and that was, ‘Finish the Fight,’ and, ‘Stay in the Fight.’
“All those things we kind of held onto during the season, those are things that we can control and those are things that we expect out of ourselves and the guy next to us.”
Being back where he knew he was wanted, Strasburg told reporters, was a big factor in his decision to return to Washington.
“To be honest,” he said, “throughout my career I’m so fortunate to have the backing of the team, the ownership, and they’ve made it very clear that they want me to be a part of this organization moving forward, and throughout the course of my career there have been ups and downs and they’ve supported me throughout it all.
“I think that’s hard to come by in this game and I think that’s creating an environment that I feel like I can thrive in and achieve what I wanted to on the field and off the field as well.”