Stephen Strasburg opts out
On Saturday, the Nationals paraded through our nation’s capital for their World Series celebration, always a great day for whatever city gets to celebrate. Nobody can complain on a parade day. Except, well, things change when said parade day also comes on the day many option decisions need to be made. Among those decisions was on an opt-out belonging to World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg. Just a few hours after celebrating with thousands of fans, the righty announced he would be opting out of his contract. He had four years and $100 million remaining on his deal.
The good news for Washington fans is that there is every expectation the Nationals will still be in on negotiations to bring him back. They are not an organization who has ever shied away from free agency. The bad news is Strasburg is from Southern California, and all three of the teams out there — Padres, Dodgers and Angels — could be aggressive in a search for starting pitching this winter. The Yankees will also presumably be involved.
Sox Spin: It’s that last part that most affects the Red Sox. They are among the odds-on favorites to sign Strasburg — and only Strasburg, as they are not considered favorites for Gerrit Cole or Anthony Rendon or Madison Bumgarner, which is very strange to me — but I would be totally floored if they actually made this move. Instead, I think our relationship with Strasburg this winter will be hoping he does not go to the Yankees and most preferably sticks in the National League.
Aroldis Chapman and Yankees agree to extension
Another high-profile pitcher who had an opt-out decision to make was Aroldis Chapman. While it was always much more likely than not that Strasburg would opt out of his deal, Chapman was more of a toss-up. As it turns out, the Yankees took it out of his hands. It had been known that the closer preferred to stay with New York, and they took care of business by adding another year and $18 million to the end of his deal. He is now set to hit free agency after the 2022 season. The Yankees are the Yankees so this shouldn’t prevent them from making other major moves where they need them this winter, but baseball is weird now so who knows. In addition to Chapman, New York still has Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, Tommy Kahnle and Chad Green in their bullpen.
Sox Spin: So, the Yankees still have the best reliever in their bullpen. That is obviously not good news for the Red Sox. If you are looking for a positive, though, the Red Sox are better against Chapman than pretty much any other team in baseball. In fact, only the Astros have a higher OPS against the lefty in his career. Plus, it is always satisfying to beat Chapman, even more so than your typical Yankee.
Tony Watson opts in
There were a handful of second- and third-tier players who either hit free agency via team or player option or stuck with their teams, but I’m not going to go through all of them. I will, however, mention Watson. The Giants reliever was the subject of plenty of trade chatter this past summer, but San Francisco was solid for longer than anyone expected and they decided not to sell at the deadline. Watson stuck around, and now he’s sticking around for 2020 as well. The lefty has opted into the $2.5 million final year of his contract. He could, of course, still be a trade candidate this winter, though he’s coming off a rough year so the Giants may want to let him rebuild some value in the first half next season.
Sox Spin: The Red Sox are presumably going to be in the market for some relief help this winter, although we assumed the same thing last year and they made an ass out of you and me. Watson could have been a good buy-low opportunity, as he has been really good in the past before his down 2019. That said, the more I think about it the less convinced I am they’ll go after a lefty if they can help it. With Darwinzon Hernandez and Josh Taylor among the relievers already on the roster that they trust, they probably would prefer to add a righty to the mix.