After they landed Max Scherzer on a seven-year deal worth $210 million, the Washington Nationals have an interesting decision to make. Throwing Scherzer into the mix with Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister gives the Nationals the best starting rotation in recent history, and makes them serious World Series contenders heading in to the 2015 season.
With all of that being said, rumors of the Nationals looking to trade one of their talented starters for a stock of young talent have been swirling for a while. Adding Scherzer only makes that easier.
With both Zimmermann and Fister entering the last year on their respective contracts, they have always seemed like the most likely trade candidates; but could they actually be looking to move Strasburg? Earlier on Monday, USA Today’s John Perrotto reported that sources are telling him the Nationals are making Strasburg, “very much available and both sides believe it is time to move on.”
Making a starting pitcher available is far from a surprise. The Nationals would be wise improve the future of their organization by trading from such an obvious strength. That being said, making Strasburg the guy who is available is very surprising. If this report is true, there is clearly something going on behind the scenes.
In 109 career starts over the past five seasons, Strasburg has posted a sparkling 3.02 ERA with his 2.84 FIP suggesting that his success is not a fluke. Strasburg is a strong strikeout pitcher who has struck-out career 10.3 batters per nine innings while only walking 2.3 per nine. He has not only had sparkling early career success, but at only 26-years-old, the future is bright as well.
Strasburg is arguably the most purely talented pitchers in all of Major League Baseball. If the Nationals are really making him available, nearly every team in baseball should, and will, at least check in. However, the asking price is surely going to be astronomically high, with only a few teams having the right mix of young talent to land such a prominent player.
Stocked with almost inarguably the best collection of minor league talent in baseball, and a young and exciting MLB roster, the Chicago Cubs are one of the teams who could afford to trade for a guy like Strasburg.
While it is nearly impossible to guess what it would take to get Strasburg; young, talented and cost controlled middle infielders like Starlin Castro, Addison Russell and Javier Baez would certainly entice the Nationals, and would be a great start. One (or even two) of those three valuable players would only be the starting point, but the Cubs have the depth throughout their system to allow the Nationals to pick them apart in exchange for Strasburg.
With a lot of their young impact talent reaching the majors or further establishing themselves last season, the Cubs entered this off-season as a very interesting team. After bringing in manager Joe Maddon and signing LHP Jon Lester to a big costless agent contract, the Cubs are now on everybody’s radar, with the Sporting News even (albeit controversially) picking them to win the 2015 World Series.
Trading for Strasburg would be a power move that would allow the Cubs to instantly show that they are a force to be reckoned with. While the competition will certainly be fierce, the Cubs have more pieces that will attract the Nationals than nearly any other team in baseball. The opportunity to land a player of the caliber of Strasburg almost never presents itself. If he is truly available, the Cubs must pounce.