With Max Scherzer now in tow, the Washington Nationals are in the enviable position of choosing between entering 2015 with one of the best five-man rotations in recent memory (and an excellent sixth man, to boot), or trading one of their short-term starters for a collection of prospects, and still having a great rotation.
I am inclined to believe they’ll do the latter, even as word will trickle out of Washington that they don’t have to trade anyone. Further, I’ve been inclined to believe that the Nats would deal one of Doug Fister or Jordan Zimmermann, being that each has just one year left until free agency.
When the Scherzer stuff was first breaking last night, Jon Morosi did mention the possibility that the Nats could trade Stephen Strasburg, a free agent after 2016, instead of Fister or Zimmermann, but it didn’t really gain much steam as a rumor.
Today, USA Today’s John Perrotto says this:
— John Perrotto (@JPerrotto) January 19, 2015
Wow. That is. That is really specific. And fairly surprising.
Strasburg, 26, will make $7.4 million in 2015, and then probably something north of $10 million in 2016 before hitting free agency. Although he’s always had considerably more hype, Strasburg was probably the number two behind Jordan Zimmermann in the Nationals’ rotation last year. Still, we’re talking about a guy who sports a career 3.02/2.84/2.73 ERA/FIP/xFIP, and an insane 28.5% K rate to go with a mere 6.4% BB rate. To say Strasburg is a stud is to undersell him.
Speaking of selling him, yes, the Nationals could get a king’s ransom for two undermarket, prime years of Strasburg. I won’t speculate about what, for example, the Cubs would have to give up to get a Strasburg – at least not until there are more rumors about him actually being on the move, and/or the Cubs actually having interest at the expected price level – but I will say that the Cubs are one of the few teams out there that have the bullets to acquire just about anyone in the game if they really wanted to. But, if Strasburg is actually being seriously shopped, very few teams won’t have some level of interest.
That is all to say … I told you things could get fun if the Nationals signed Scherzer!