BOCA RATON, Fla. — When Major League Baseball general managers convene one year from now to begin next offseason’s business, Stephen Strasburg’s future will be a major topic of discussion: He is positioned as the marquee pitching free agent of the 2016-2017 offseason.
For now, it doesn’t appear there is active dialogue between his agent, Scott Boras, and the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. And Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Tuesday that he hadn’t received a trade inquiry for Strasburg at the general managers’ meetings.
Yet Strasburg’s name is in the news, anyway, as Boras disclosed Wednesday that Strasburg underwent a "minor" medical procedure roughly one month ago to remove a non-cancerous growth from his back.
Article continues below ...
Boras said the growth was "muscular" in nature and had bothered Strasburg while he pitched. Strasburg is fine now, Boras said, and presumably will benefit from normal offseason workouts prior to the most important season (economically) of his baseball career.
Strasburg, 27, dealt with back and shoulder discomfort throughout a 2015 season in which health issues limited him to 127-1/3 innings. (A left ankle injury affected him in the first half, before his performance improved after the All-Star break.) If the excised growth was a chief cause of the back and shoulder trouble, then the Nationals — and Boras — can feel confident Strasburg will reclaim the ace status he’s held intermittently during his career.
"He’s durable," Rizzo said. "He pitched (215) innings the year before. When he’s right, he wants to go deep into games. As he’s progressed, as he’s strengthened himself from the Tommy John (surgery in 2010), he’s capable of going deep into games and deep into seasons."
Among major-league pitchers with at least 600 innings over the past four seasons, Strasburg ranks 10th in adjusted ERA, behind current free agents Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, David Price, and Jordan Zimmermann.
Strasburg will become a free agent at age 28, which Boras believes is young by the standards of free-agent pitchers.
"Stephen Strasburg is a very young pitcher," Boras said. "He’s got a great arm. He’s got true No. 1 ability. He’s just stepping into his career. He was a very young draft pick . . . He was pitching in the big leagues at 21. Now his body has grown into maturity. He’s stronger. Certainly, what we saw the last two months of this season is (what’s) to come, of the best of Stephen Strasburg."