Stephen Strasburg has had a successful yet disappointing career pitching for the Washington Nationals. The flame throwing righty was a generational first overall pick, along with Bryce Harper, maybe the most hyped prospect of the new millennium. When holding him to this level of expectation, Strasburg has fallen a little flat, blessed with a high 90’s fastball and filthy secondary stuff, his best season was a 3.14 ERA and 215 innings and a year still masked in disappointment when Strasburg was shut down for the playoffs and the Nationals were promptly disposed of in one series.
In four full seasons of starting, the 27-year-old failed to top 185 innings in any of the other three campaigns, demonstrating a career riddled with minor injuries after Tommy John surgery shortened his first two years in the big leagues. Now facing free agency at the end of 2016, Strasburg carries an impressive 3.04 career ERA, 10.4 K/9 ratio and a 1.08 WHIP – all metrics of a bonafide ace even if Strasburg has never been treated as one and has spent most of his career not even throwing like the best pitcher on his own staff.
It makes for an interesting contract heading into free agency where pitching is at an all time high in terms of value.
Stephen Strasburg Salary
Strasburg’s Current Salary: $10.4 million (final year of arbitration).
Strasburg’s Free Agency Year: End of 2016 season.
Projected Salary: 7 years, $224 million (eighth year team option with $8 million buyout)
Why? It’s a balance of pros and cons for Strasburg. On the plus side, he’s in a historically bad free agent class, literally facing no exciting starting pitching competition which means any team with money to burn in need of pitching (which will be nearly every team with money to burn) is going to be in the bidding. Scott Boras is going to make sure Strasburg talks dominate the winter and will not be quick to make him commit to a contract. For both of these reasons alone, Strasburg is going over $200 million.
So why this specific amount? If you notice Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke and David Price‘s recent deals over the past two years, elite pitchers are projected to make $30 million+; it’s pretty much today’s market value. Unlike the aforementioned three pitchers, Strasburg will only be turning 28-years-old when he begins his journey presumably with a new team. On the negative side, teams are going to be worried about Strasburg’s injury history, even Scherzer was able to put together back to back 200+ inning campaigns before free agency and Price has routinely done it in his career.
Strasburg is not a work horse even if he is an ace, which is why you won’t see longer than the same seven or eight year deal despite being younger in age for the prized righty. So take roughly $32 million per year and add a bidding war winning move of a team option with a decent buyout, and we arrive around $232 million for Strasburg. He can thank his free agency year for topping his current teammate, Scherzer, and this season’s top pitcher, Price.