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Thursday, August 24, 2023

Stephen Strasburg, the Nats’ World Series MVP, plans to retire

Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg plans to retire, according to three people familiar with the matter, ending a career that started with unprecedented hype, peaked with a World Series MVP award in 2019, and ultimately was derailed by injury. He last pitched in a game in June 2022.

A news conference is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 9 at Nationals Park, before the Nationals play the Los Angeles Dodgers. The first overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft, Strasburg pitched just 31⅓ innings after signing a seven-year, $245 million contract in December 2019. And since undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome in 2021 — a procedure that included the removal of a rib and two neck muscles — he logged just 4⅔ innings, all in one start that led to more pain and tingling in his shoulder and neck.

The financial implications of Strasburg’s retirement were not immediately known Thursday afternoon. But in similar cases, players and teams have reached settlements that typically lower the total money remaining on a contract. After this season, Strasburg’s contract had an average annual value of $35 million for three more years.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 24, 2023 at 02:25 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals, stephen strasburg

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   1. JRVJ Posted: August 24, 2023 at 02:57 PM (#6139456)
Assuming that Strasburg and the Nationals came to an agreement to allow for this retirement (since surely Strasburg did not want to leave over a $100MM on the table and the Nationals wanted some relief, what with time value of money and such), good for him.

It has to absolutely s*ck to try, try and try again to rehabilitate, and find that your body is simply not there.
   2. Dr. Pooks Posted: August 24, 2023 at 03:37 PM (#6139459)
I was going to start a whole "did it pay off to baby Strasburg's arm" line of discussion.

But my memory is spotty. Looking it up, it was all the way back in 2012 at age 23 that the Nats shutdown Strasburg's season in September one year post-TJ due to innings limits while in a playoff race. I thought the controversy was a lot more recent.

Strasburg would go on to be relatively healthy and very productive until age 30, including a 2019 World Series, so it's hard to argue with the results.
   3. Sweatpants Posted: August 24, 2023 at 04:13 PM (#6139461)
a career that started with unprecedented hype, peaked with a World Series MVP award in 2019, and ultimately was derailed by injury
I didn't realize that he led the NL in IP that year, before going 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA in 36.1 playoff IP. He also had a really good 2017, although as a lapsed/former fan I have a hard time getting excited about 175 innings of work. The new standards hadn't quite sunk in by the time I left.

To me, though, his peak will always be that rookie season. The hype was indeed like nothing I'd ever experienced before, and then he lived up to it. He was a 21-year-old rookie who just might have been as good as any pitcher going. Through eight starts he had a 4-2 record and a 2.03 ERA. His K/9 finished at 12.2, in a year when neither league leader reached 10. It looked like something unprecedented would happen, and very soon.

He ended up surpassing 2010's 2.91 ERA just once. Obviously most players could only dream of three all-star selections and a World Series MVP Award, but if you remember 2010 then you know that such a final summation of Strasburg's career has to rate as a disappointment. Not that he should have done better, just that reality would have been a whole lot more exciting if that rookie season had been the start of something transformative.
   4. Bret Sabermatrician Posted: August 24, 2023 at 04:17 PM (#6139462)
Assuming they got a discount on future years, he's probably going out with 5 full seasons, 3 mostly full seasons, 1 World Series, a 127 ERA+ and 32.3 WAR for $300 million.

I think that would be a good return for $300 million on a free agent pitcher, but maybe a little disappointing when 1/2 the career was cost controlled.

I think the question is as above, was the extreme caution worth it in the end? While I think the Nats would have liked more than 1 WS with that core, I don't know that either party made out poorly. I do think the resulting overreacting on pitch counts since has been a net negative for baseball.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: August 24, 2023 at 04:30 PM (#6139465)
It's also a reminder of how things have changed. That year, Strasburg had 28 starts and 159 IP. In 2022, 159 IP would have put him around #50 in all of MLB. (He was 94th in 2012.) Further these days, they'd manage his innings by essentially never letting him go more than 5 and they'd have a full season out of him. (In 2012, he typically went 6, occasionally 5 or 7 and a few short outings to bring the average down.)

Essentially every pitcher now is treated like Strasburg recovering from TJS was treated. And while it's sensible to offer the "max effort all the time" argument when comparing 2022 pitching usage to 1972 usage, it's not so likely to have changed that much since 2012. Or maybe it has with "everybody" throwing 95+ these days.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: August 24, 2023 at 08:01 PM (#6139486)
I recall an article about when Strasburg was in college at San Diego State.

In the abstract, sportswriters quite reasonably wondered if facing non-elite competition might be a reason to question if Strasburg would be as dominant in the major leagues.

So the question went to his college coach - a fellow not known for his braggadocio.

He measured his words carefully, iirc, but eventually got around to something like "Fellas, I think I know a good major league pitching prospect when I see one."

And as an eight-time NL batting champion and first-ballot HOFer with a career AVG of .338 that still ranks as the highest MLB number since Ted Williams - well, Tony Gwynn did have a point there.


   7. Zonk Doesn't Get What You See in the Gameshow Host Posted: August 24, 2023 at 08:04 PM (#6139488)
Assuming they got a discount on future years, he's probably going out with 5 full seasons, 3 mostly full seasons, 1 World Series, a 127 ERA+ and 32.3 WAR for $300 million.

Cubs fans who thought Mark Prior was gonna get us there would - in hindisght - gladly take that.
   8. Walt Davis Posted: August 25, 2023 at 12:54 AM (#6139511)
#6 ... In spring training 1998, the Cubs faced whoever with prospect Kerry Wood pitching. Asked/told after the game that Wood was going to be starting the year in the minors, the opposing manager said something like "if they've got 5 guys better than that, they're gonna win the Series."

Alas the 1998 Cubs had nobody better than Kerry Wood; heck, nobody else better than average. But sending him down had nothing to do with service time, nothing at all, good solid baseball reasons, needed to work on his defense.
   9. Pat Rapper's Delight (as quoted on MLB Network) Posted: August 25, 2023 at 09:28 AM (#6139516)
But sending [Wood] down had nothing to do with service time, nothing at all, good solid baseball reasons, needed to work on his defense.

The extra seasoning may have been what helped him develop into a better-than-average-hitting pitcher. Career .171 average with 7 HR. Historically, the Cubs front office would consider that a win.
   10. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: August 25, 2023 at 02:45 PM (#6139538)
Reports are going around that as Strasburg is retiring for certified medical reasons he is still owed his contract in full, and it is not insured.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 26, 2023 at 05:36 PM (#6139614)
As the article notes, these situations are generally worked out in a way the player gets all or nearly all the money although deferment is common. And it's usually for medical reasons. In a case like Strasburg's, the issue is usually whether there is any hope of rehab. As long as he is under contract to the team, they can require him to continue to rehab the injury in hopes of returning to the mound. I assume the "certification" is the team doctors saying there is no longer any chance of rehab. If Strasburg disagreed, he could always ask for his release. That just leaves the money question and whether the team will allow the player to officially retire or whether team and player will go through the charade of putting him on the 60-day IL every year or release him. But the player's getting the money.
   12. Buck Coats Posted: August 27, 2023 at 10:21 PM (#6139738)
Putting the player on the 60-day IL every year does come with a price though - no IL at all in the off-season. So that injured player is clogging up one of your spots on the 40-man all off-season every year.
   13. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: August 27, 2023 at 10:30 PM (#6139739)
Walt (#11): Not quite a charade, as I understand it--in the offseason they have to put him on the 40-man roster, effectively cutting them down to a 39-man roster and forcing them to leave one more prospect exposed to the Rule 5 draft. Am I misunderstanding how that works?

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