For Stephen Strasburg, free agency — not extension — awaits

Stephen Strasburg seems likely to hit the free-agent market after the 2016 season.

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

When the Washington Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg prior to the 2012 postseason, they believed doing so was in the best interest of his long-term health. More than three years later, they’re about to be proven correct: Strasburg, 27, is poised to be the top free-agent pitcher in the 2016 class.

In that sense, the Nationals have preserved his future earning potential — very possibly with another team.

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Strasburg’s agent, Scott Boras, confirmed to FOX Sports on Monday that the sides aren’t in active talks about a contract extension as spring training begins. It’s highly unlikely that will change before the season is over.

“We amicably agreed to a one-year deal (for 2016),” Boras said. “He’s going to pitch, and we’ll see where it goes from there. It’s something we’ll be discussing at the end of the year.”

Among pitchers to throw at least 500 innings over the past three seasons, Strasburg ranks 11th in adjusted ERA, according to research through Baseball-Reference.com.

“The Nationals have done a great job with him,” Boras said. “They’ve listened to the doctors, and all you can ask of a team is that they listen to the doctors. They have. Stephen and the team have benefited from that.”

Strasburg’s 127-1/3 innings in 2015 – he battled neck and oblique strains — were his fewest since returning from Tommy John surgery in 2011. Still, there’s reason to believe he can surpass the 200-inning mark this year, for what would be the second time. Boras said Strasburg is fully recovered from minor surgery in October to remove a non-cancerous growth from his back, which had bothered the right-hander while pitching; Boras said Strasburg’s offseason workouts have been completely normal since.

 

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