A few days ago, when the final Super Two numbers were released, many (read: me) wondered about the contract status of one Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals, as is their prerogative, gamed his service time to keep their most valuable property from reaching the very expensive Super Two status, keeping an extra year of pre-arbitration control for their trouble.
Would the Nats ink their stud pitcher, the rare True Number One pitcher to a long-term contract, buying up his arbitration years in addition to his final pre-arb year? How would the club approach matters with Strasburg and his superagent, the villainous Scott Boras?
Turns out it is much ado about nothing. Thanks to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, we needn’t worry any longer.
It appears the Strasburg/Boras Hydra of Fiscal Responsibility saw this situation coming a mile away. Kilgore cites sources “familiar with the contract” indicating a provision smartly written into his record-setting first contract ensures Strasburg earns $3.9 million in 2013 after not reaching arbitration after his first 2+ seasons in the big leagues. The tidy 30% raise brings Strasburg’s pre-arbitration earnings total to a whopping $19.1 million bucks. Not bad, not bad at all.
It also makes the potential arbitration rewards fascination and potentially record breaking, as Kilgore points out. While he doesn’t have the same kind of trophy case as Tim Lincecum did when he reached arbitration (as a Super Two), they certainly have similar resumes of success. Will Strasburg follow Timmy’s lead and jump to the head of the pack, earning similar salaries to the top pitchers in the game (working under the 40/60/80 structure, that is?)
The Nats cannot expect much a discount from Camp Boras when looking for a long-term deal. Many believe Strasburg’s public disappointment after the team’s controversial shutdown of their ace ended his season in September suggests he will look to get out of Washington when he hits free agency. Realistically, Boras and his client just want the best payday with the longest term. Years and dollars, y’all. Isn’t much more complicated than that.