Strasburg goes back to the Nats
As we headed into the Winter Meetings, which got underway yesterday, the assumption was that Gerrit Cole would be the first ace to sign. There were rumors swirling about offers being prepared and, if they were good, indications that a signing could happen quickly. It followed that Stephen Strasburg, then, would wait to see what his fellow Scott Boras client received and go from there. Wrong! Strasburg was the one to strike first, and strike he did. The reigning World Series MVP is staying put in Washington, signing a massive seven-year, $245 million deal. It shatters David Price’s record for largest contract to ever go to a pitcher and has in turn set Cole up for an even more massive payday himself.
For now, though, we focus on Strasburg. It always seemed pretty likely he would go back to the Nationals, as the west coast teams seem more focused on Cole and the history in Washington is too much to ignore. It should be mentioned that, while this is no doubt a massive deal whichever way you slice it, there are deferrals in this deal. That is a trademark for the Nationals at this point. It reduces the value of the contract for the player somewhat, but not overly significantly. It is still a record-setting deal. Washington figures to be in a tight NL East race yet again in 2020, and having Strasburg back in that rotation should only help matters.
Sox Spin: There’s a couple angles for the Red Sox here. For one thing, the Yankees are probably the favorite for Cole right now, so that price for them went up. They’re the Yankees so that doesn’t matter that much, but it’s worth mentioning. As for the Red Sox specifically, the so-called albatrosses to Price and Chris Sale don’t look quite so bad anymore. With Price specifically, this should alter his value on the trade market as teams see what the going rate for starters really is right now. Obviously Price is not Strasburg, but Boston shouldn’t have to eat a significant amount of that contract if they really want to move it.
Rays-Padres trade on hold?
Last week Tampa Bay and San Diego completed a trade that sent Tommy Pham and a prospect to the Padres in exchange for Hunter Renfroe and top prospect Xavier Edwards. It was a very Rays and very Padres kind of move and got some fairly strong opinions in favor and against it, particularly on the Tampa Bay side. Well, now it might not be completed after all. Apparently there may be some issue with Pham’s medicals — he is recovering from an elbow injury — that could hold things up. This is a really bizarre situation. It isn’t like this was a deal that was just reported and confirmed by a couple of writers so we assumed it was done. The teams had officially announced the deal last Friday! There’s not a whole lot of precedent for deals to be amended, with the more likely outcome being that it just gets scrapped all together if the Pham medicals end up being a bigger issue. It should be mentioned, though, that a few years ago the Padres were involved in another trade that included some shaky injury information with the Marlins. That deal would eventually be amended and ultimately made San Diego miss out on Luis Castillo, now with the Reds. My guess is this eventually goes through, but that looks like less of a sure thing than it ever should be after teams announced a deal.
Sox Spin: Obviously there is an effect on the Rays here, who as I said when this trade went down are better with Pham than without, at least for 2020. So this does affect Boston’s playoff hopes in the coming year. It also surely makes people think back to 2016 when the Red Sox traded Anderson Espinoza for Drew Pomeranz, only to have their own medical hangups with Pomeranz. That trade, of course, did not get reversed, but Padres GM A.J. Preller did receive a 30-day suspension for his involvement.