The Washington Nationals had just won the 2019 World Series, but two important pieces of the team were set to become free agents.
Both Washington Nationals players Anthony Rendon and World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg were set to become free agents after the 2019 Season. Rendon was unable to reach an extension with Washington, while Strasburg opted out of his contract after his impressive playoff performance.
At the time, it was a toss-up as to who the Nationals wanted to re-sign as Strasburg was fresh off of winning World Series MVP and was perfect co-ace to Max Scherzer. Rendon had plenty of clutch hits in the postseason and was consistent at the plate throughout his career.
It would’ve been hard to sign both Rendon AND Strasburg considering how many other players were going to be set for free agency in the next few years, as well as trying to stay under the luxury tax. Both players ended up signing seven-year deals worth $245 million dollars while Rendon’s deal has no deferred money with the Anaheim Angels — Strasburg’s deal with the Nationals has deferred money to it.
Fresh off of a World Series title, the Nationals were determined to keep the majority of their core intact in order to run it back. Hindsight is 20-20, but looking back now, there were plenty of red flags when it came to signing either star. Neither has come remotely close to living up to their respective deals
Since signing with the Anaheim Angels, Rendon has been injury-prone. He’s only played in 110 games out of 222 while batting .261 with 15 total home runs and 65 runs batting in. Dating back to his time in D.C., injuries were a problem early on in his career, most notably in 2015 and early on in 2019.
As for Strasburg, it’s been a total bust of a contract. Since winning the MVP of the World Series and signing that deal with the Nationals, Strasburg has only pitched a total of 26 innings due to various injuries/season-ending surgeries. Betting on a then 30-year old who had battled countless injuries to stay healthy was a bold decision.
Let’s just say that the Nationals would’ve been better off without both Rendon and Strasburg seeing as they haven’t lived up to the contracts that they received post World Series win. Hopefully, Stephen Strasburg can stay healthy the last few years of his deal with the Nationals so they can recoup some of that return on investment.