Stephen Strasburg reportedly retired two weeks ago after 14 years with the Washington Nationals.
Now it turns out that his status is more like “mostly retired.”
The Nationals canceled a news conference scheduled for Saturday because they have not yet finalized key details regarding an agreement on Strasburg’s retirement Jesse Dougherty of The Washington Post. Such plans were never officially announced.
Strasburg, his representatives and the Nationals reportedly first discussed plans for his retirement this summer and scheduled Saturday as the day to discuss the decision with the media. Strasburg’s plans have reportedly not wavered, but it became clear Thursday that the two sides might not reach an agreement in time.
What do the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg need to discuss about retirement?
If an MLB player decides to retire while still under contract with a team, he forgoes the remainder of the money owed to him under that contract unless he and the team come to an agreement, usually for slightly less than the amount owed to players.
In Strasburg’s case, it would be beneficial to the Nationals if he opted out and reached an agreement since it became pretty clear that Strasburg would never play in the MLB again.
Strasburg is currently in the fourth year of a seven-year, $245 million contract he signed after winning the World Series with the Nationals in 2019. This contract now appears to be one of the worst in MLB history, as Strasburg has made exactly eight starts with a 6.89 ERA since I put pen to paper. The right-hander missed most of 2020 due to a nerve problem in his pitching hand, then was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome in 2021, probably the most feared injury in pitching.
Last month, the end appeared to have come after several setbacks in his rehab. By all accounts, Strasburg did what he could to come back, but his body just wouldn’t cooperate. However, as long as he continued to try, the Nationals owed him the remaining three and a half years of his contract at an annual salary of $35 million.
It doesn’t help the Nationals that Strasburg’s contract was out allegedly Not insured. Teams typically purchase insurance policies to protect against the possibility of a major contract being wiped out by injuries, but the Nationals reportedly decided to forego protection given the extremely high premiums Strasburg’s injury history would have required.
A deal would theoretically free Strasburg from further painful rehab and save the Nationals a significant amount of money, but there were no concrete reports about what Strasburg’s deal looked like when his retirement was first announced. Now we know why.
This appears to be a situation where Strasburg has the most impact, even if he can’t throw. So we’ll see how this plays out in the end. The notoriously private Strasburg means a lot to the Nationals, from his time leading the team’s future to his World Series MVP award, so neither team will want this matter addressed publicly.