Report: Stephen Strasburg to return to Nationals on 7-year, $245 million contract

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg on Monday reportedly agreed to terms with the Washington Nationals on a 7-year, $245 million contract, just over a month after opting out of the final four years of his original contract with the Nationals.

After a regular season in which for the first time in five seasons (and the second time in his career) he made more than 30 starts and posted more than 200 innings, then followed that with a dominating postseason, Strasburg traded $100 million in guaranteed salary for his first chance, at 31, at free agency.

In five postseason starts and one relief appearance, Strasburg was 5-0 with a 1.98 ERA. In two World Series starts, both in Houston, he was 2-0 with a 2.51 ERA. In Game 6, as the Nationals faced elimination, he pitched into the ninth inning while allowing two runs, both in the first inning of that game. In October, Strasburg pitched three scoreless innings in relief in the Nationals’ wild card game victory, started Game 5 of the division series clincher against the Los Angeles Dodgers and threw seven innings against the St. Louis Cardinals in the third of a four-game National League championship series sweep, and across the month walked four batters and struck out 47.

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Washington Nationals visit White House to celebrate World Series
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Washington Nationals visit White House to celebrate World Series
President Donald Trump hugs Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. Standing at right is manager Dave Martinez. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump stands with Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki, during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals on the balcony of the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington, as First Lady Melania Trump, left, and Washington Nationals coach Dave Martinez, second from right and general manager Mike Rizzo, far right, look on. Suzuki is wearing a Make America Great Again hat. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman, center, presents a jersey to President Donald Trump during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. Standing alongside Zimmerman are manager Dave Martinez, second from right, and general manager Mike Rizzo. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
First lady Melania Trump, Washington Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman, and President Donald Trump arrive for an event to honor the 2019 World Series Champion Washington Nationals, on the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
First lady Melania Trump laughs as President Donald Trump hugs Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki during an event to honor the 2019 World Series Champion, Washington Nationals, at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump invites Washington Nationals infielder Howie Kendrick to speak during an event to honor the 2019 World Series Champion, Washington Nationals baseball team, at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg, center, speaks in front of first lady Melania Trump, from left, President Donald Trump, manager Dave Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals manager Dave Martinez, right, speaks in front of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump speaks during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Washington Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals left fielder Juan Soto, center, speaks in front of first lady Melania Trump, from left, President Donald Trump, manager Dave Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer, center, speaks as first lady Melania Trump, from left, President Donald Trump, manager Dave Martinez and general manager Mike Rizzo listen, during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump speaks with Washington Nationals starting pitchers Anibal Sanchez, from left, Patrick Corbin and Stephen Strasburg after an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
President Donald Trump reacts as Washington Nationals catcher Kurt Suzuki walks to a podium to speak during an event to honor the 2019 World Series champion Nationals baseball team at the White House, Monday, Nov. 4, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 04: At the invitation of U.S. President Donald Trump, Washington Nationals President of Baseball Operations Mike Rizzo makes brief remarks during a celebration for the 2019 World Series Champions at the White House November 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Nationals are Washington’s first Major League Baseball team to win the World Series since 1924. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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In the regular season, he was 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA. He struck out 251 batters, second in the NL to Jacob deGrom’s 255.

After enduring a variety of injuries in the previous four seasons, including time missed for shoulder, elbow, back, neck and oblique ailments (he’d also sat out most of the 2011 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery), Strasburg held up for 235 1/3 innings in 2019, counting the postseason.

It is that Strasburg, and not the Strasburg who’d averaged 145 innings from 2015-18, who’d enter a market lean on front-end starters and in a sport hungry for them.

Among free-agent starters, he’d rate behind 29-year-old Gerrit Cole, a fellow Scott Boras client who was 20-5 with 326 strikeouts and a 2.50 ERA (and an exceptional postseason of his own) and ahead of 29-year-old Zack Wheeler, the former New York Mets right-hander who has never thrown 200 innings in a season.

The Nationals, who drafted Strasburg first overall in 2009, then famously refused to pitch him in the 2012 playoffs out of concern for his elbow, were expected to make an effort to re-sign him. The San Diego Padres, who committed $144 million to first baseman Eric Hosmer prior to the 2018 season, then $300 million to third baseman Manny Machado before the 2019 season, and finished last in the NL West both seasons, also were believed to have interest in Strasburg, along with Cole.

Five pitchers had previously drawn contracts with average annual values of at least $30 million. They are: Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, David Price, Clayton Kershaw (twice) and Max Scherzer.

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