Report: World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg to Decline Nationals Contract Option

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 3, 2019

HOUSTON, TEXAS - OCTOBER 30:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals is awarded MVP after his teams 6-2 victory against the Houston Astros in Game Seven to win the 2019 World Series at Minute Maid Park on October 30, 2019 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The October hero may be on the way out of Washington.

Stephen Strasburg has been with the Washington Nationals for his entire career, but that may change in 2020 after ESPN's Jeff Passan reported Saturday that the right-hander plans to opt out of the remaining four years and $100 million on his contract.

Strasburg would have earned $25 million in base salary during the 2020 season. According to Spotrac, he also had an opt out available after 2020. 

His decision to opt out isn't a shock considering Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reported in September there was "increasing speculation in the industry" that Strasburg was either going to do so or "leverage that possibility into getting a new, larger contract." Morosi noted Strasburg might be interested in pitching closer to his hometown of San Diego.

A dominant postseason run might have further convinced Strasburg to test the market.

He finished the regular season with a 3.32 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 251 strikeouts in 209 innings, and he cemented his place in Nationals lore with a 1.98 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in the playoffs. Washington went 6-0 in games he appeared in during the postseason, and he won the World Series MVP against the Houston Astros by outdueling future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander twice, including with his team facing elimination in Game 6.

Strasburg didn't only shine in the Fall Classic. He threw three shutout innings of relief against the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wild Card Game and seven shutout innings in his one appearance in the National League Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Strasburg's decision to opt out of his deal is a welcome development for other teams in need of quality starting pitching.

The three-time All-Star has been a dominant force when healthy and has never finished with an ERA above 3.74 for a single season. He was half of arguably the best one-two punch in baseball alongside Max Scherzer and won't turn 32 until July.

Durability concerns have plagued Strasburg since he made only five starts in 2011 and was shut down before the playoffs in 2012, but he proved this year that he can anchor a staff with Scherzer and thrive under the brightest lights the sport has to offer.

Whichever team signs him will have one of the best pitchers in baseball.