The Nationals Had No Choice But to Bring Back Stephen Strasburg

Ryan Phillips
Stephen Strasburg pitches for the Nationals in the World Series
Stephen Strasburg pitches for the Nationals in the World Series / Bob Levey/Getty Images

Stephen Strasburg is staying in Washington. On Monday the Nationals announced they had re-signed the reigning World Series MVP to a massive, seven-year, $245 million contract. That's a lot of cash, but given the situation the Nationals find themselves in, they had to bring their homegrown ace back.

In 2019, Strasburg went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 251 strikeouts in 209 innings. He then dominated the postseason, going 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and 47 strikeouts in 36.1 innings. The 31-year-old was as good as he's ever been this past season. But Washington had to bring him back not just due to his performance, but also because of who they've let walk recently.

The Nationals made Strasburg the No. 1 pick in the 2009 MLB Draft. He's one of a number of cornerstone, homegrown guys the franchise built around. Another was Bryce Harper, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Washington allowed him to walk away last offseason without getting anything but a compensation draft pick. This winter, the Nationals are almost certain to let Anthony Rendon walk away and he was the sixth pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. They simply couldn't let all of those guys go over the course of two offseasons.

Rendon is likely to get more money on the open market than Strasburg, so the Nationals opted for the guy who was likely to cost less over the life of his contract. That said, they were clearly backed into a corner in negotiations. Strasburg's agent Scott Boras knew how awful it would look if Washington let three homegrown stars leave so close to one another.

It's great that the Nationals re-signed Strasburg and that he'll theoretically be able to spend his entire career with one franchise. But we all know they had to make a deal happen, because failing to do so would have been a disaster in every respect.