I promise. This is(n’t) the last you’ll hear from me about the Stephen Strasburg shutdown.
I want to raise a point that I think has been vastly overlooked up until now. How does this shutdown affect the long-term relationship between Strasburg and the Nationals front office?
Strasburg seems to be a great teammate, a kid who always has a smile on his face. But that’s on the field. I’m talking about when it comes to sitting down with Mike Rizzo and company and dealing with the business side of things.
Granted, agent Scott Boras could’ve potentially sued the Nationals if they hadn’t shut down Strasburg – there is a clause in Strasburg’s contract stating the Nationals can’t go against expert medical advice – another point that often gets overlooked, however, even Strasburg may not be thinking about that. If he were taking that into strong consideration, then why on Earth would he be directly upset with the front office?
Mike Rizzo and company already face the most difficult agent in sports when it comes to Strasburg, but now they face a potentially bitter Strasburg, and that’s never good.
Strasburg is not set to become a free agent until after the 2016 season, but that doesn’t mean that this couldn’t become an issue before that. Trade requests and public expressions of malcontent are quite common in baseball, and don’t think that Strasburg would shy away from doing such a thing. But, I expect it would affect a post-2016 contract more than it would the immediate future.
What if (and I pray they do) the Nationals go on to win a World Series this year, and Strasburg is sitting there on the bench watching? What if it’s the only title they take home before 2017? Then it could become “You deprived me of earning a ring. I’m out of here.” Those kinds of things never sit well with ballplayers, and being the passionate pitcher he is, this could quite easily sit in Strasburg’s mind for a long time.
Strasburg has already been quite vocal about his shutdown, saying, “You don’t grow up dreaming of playing in the big leagues to get shut down when the games start to matter … I don’t know if I’m ever going to be able to accept it to be honest.” Again, this is granted that he’s just been told of the shutdown himself, and is a little fired up. But he does have plenty more potential leverage now come 2016 when there’s nothing stopping him from hitting the open market.
*Side note: Stephen, if you dare take your talents to South Beach on national television… You’re dead to me.