Yankees: A look ahead at 5 best free-agent starting pitchers in 2020
2. Stephen Strasburg
Recent reports indicate that Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg is seriously considering opting out of the final four years and $100 million left on his contract. Admittedly, he also could leverage that possibility into obtaining a new, more lucrative deal with the Nats.
Unlike Odorizzi, Bumgarner, and Ryu, Strasburg is a big-time arm and a difference-maker. He would clearly be a No. 1 starter on most teams, including the Yankees.
He was selected by the Nationals with the first pick in the 2009 MLB draft and made his MLB debut in 2010. He tore a ligament in his right elbow a few months after joining Washington, had Tommy John surgery, followed by one year of rehabilitation, and rejoined the club in September 2011 — pitching only 24 innings before the season ended.
Strasburg bounced back and made the 2012 NL All-Star team. He led the NL in strikeouts in 2014, and his average fastball has consistently been between 95 and 96 mph since the surgery.
The right-handed Strasburg just turned 31 in July and has spent his entire 10-year major league career with Washington. He has an overall 110-58 (.655) won-lost record and a career ERA of 3.19. Most impressively, he has struck out 1,666 batters in 1,414.2 innings.
This year, he is 16-6 (.727) with an ERA of 3.50. He has struck out 222 hitters in 185 innings pitched; he is one of only a very small number of starting pitchers to strikeout over 10 batters per nine innings.
He also has a ground ball rate over 50 percent in 2019, an advantage to pitching in Yankee Stadium. His WAR this year is an eye-popping 5.3 (and 31.6 for his career), and he has pitched in three NLDS games.
If Strasburg does indeed opt-out of his contract with the Nats, it would be a no brainer for the Bombers to aggressively pursue him. Such opportunities come along very seldom and must be pursued by the Yanks if they hope to continue their team dominance over time.
He will not come cheap, of course, but Strasburg is certainly worth a long-term, lucrative contract given his outstanding record and likelihood of continued success.