Strasburg deal thins free agency options for after season
With Stephen Strasburg now off the market, who might be left for teams to bid on in free agency this coming offseason?
Strasburg's $175 million, seven-year deal to stay with the Washington Nationals was a tough break for any team hoping to land a top pitcher before 2017. He figured to be the most sought-after starter among the next group of free agents, but he was willing to pass up that opportunity and take the lucrative deal the Nats offered him.
With Strasburg out of the picture, here's a look at a handful of players who could be available as free agents after the 2016 season:
JOSE BAUTISTA AND EDWIN ENCARNACION
These two Toronto sluggers remain unsigned beyond this season, and although neither is off to a great start, there's plenty of time for them to enhance their value.
Teixeira's $180 million, eight-year deal with the Yankees is winding down. He hit 31 homers as recently as last year, but he'll turn 37 next April.
Gomez is still under 30 and as a center fielder, he figured to be a top up-the-middle option in free agency. But he struggled down the stretch last year and has been abysmal with the bat so far in 2016.
Strasburg's deal left the pickings much slimmer among the starting pitchers. Dickey remains capable of throwing plenty of innings, and the Blue Jays thought enough of him that they picked up his $12 million option for this season.
PICK YOUR CLOSER
Here's where teams might finally find a buyer's market, although there is always some risk in getting involved with the unpredictability of relief pitchers. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon can all become free agents after this season.
The above list does not include players who can opt out of longer deals and become free agents after this season. If the likes of Yoenis Cespedes and James Shields are available, that would be welcome news to the teams with money to spend.
Here are a few other developments from around baseball:
The Philadelphia Phillies and Miami Marlins are hanging around near the top of the NL East, and now that May is about half over, it's at least fair to look at the schedules and anticipate when those two surprising teams may face some serious tests.
The Phillies have three games against the Chicago Cubs around the end of the month, followed by a series against Washington. The Marlins host the Nationals for a three-game set starting this coming Friday.
David Price has had an unusual start to the season, posting 5-1 record but with an ugly 6.00 ERA. Normally, a pitcher's record can be deceiving when he has a poor ERA, but Price is still putting up huge strikeout numbers and has been victimized by a .388 batting average on balls in play. He remains an ace, both in real life and for fantasy purposes.
LINE OF THE WEEK
Max Scherzer of the Nats tied the nine-inning record with 20 strikeouts against Detroit on Wednesday night, but remarkably, it was not the most by a Washington pitcher. Tom Cheney of the Senators struck out 21 in 16 innings in a 1962 game.
Scherzer was the first pitcher to strike out 20 in nine innings since Randy Johnson in 2001 – after Johnson was the third to do it between 1996-2001. Perhaps it's a bit surprising nobody else has reached 20 in recent years, with strikeouts so common nowadays – but big strikeout totals often mean high pitch counts, and that can become an obstacle. Scherzer was able to complete his feat in 119 pitches.
Follow Noah Trister at www.Twitter.com/noahtrister