As the hot stove churns on, the Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly interested in reigning World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg.
It’s not known how aggressive the Phillies will be in their pursuit of Strasburg, but Jon Heyman of RADIO.COM says that the Phillies are “looking at” the 31-year-old righty. Heyman did add the caveat that the Washington Nationals re-signing Strasburg is probably the most likely outcome to his first stint in free agency.
Strasburg had arguably the best season of his career in 2019. The former No. 1 overall pick went 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA, 3.25 FIP and 5.7 fWAR, finishing fifth in National League Cy Young Award voting. He then helped the Nationals to win their first World Series title. Most notably, he pitched 8.1 innings in Game 6 of the World Series, with the Nationals facing elimination in Houston.
He did make 33 regular season starts in 2019, marking the first time that he made 30 or more starts since 2014. He threw 209.0 regular season innings, but that’s just the second time his career he’s pitched over 200 innings. Injuries have been part of the story for Strasburg, who is a veteran of Tommy Johny surgery.
Knowing that, inking him to a deal that would take him through his mid-30s would seem to be a risk. MLB Trade Rumors projects that Strasburg will sign a six-year/$180 million deal in free agency. Additionally, the Phillies would have to surrender their second highest pick in the 2020 MLB Draft and $500,000 in international signing bonus money if they signed him because the Nationals issued a qualifying offer to him.
Of course, things don’t appear to be at that stage. The timing of this report makes you think that the Phillies were eager to distract their fanbase from the news that franchise icon Cole Hamels was signing a one-year/$18 million deal with the division-rival Atlanta Braves.
Any interest in Strasburg could be a moot point by this weekend. The MLB Winter Meetings begin Sunday, and free-agent righty Zack Wheeler reportedly hopes to have decided on his next destination by then. ESPN‘s Buster Olney reported Wednesday that the Phillies are seen as the “most potent” bidders for Wheeler.
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