WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg is skipping his first shot at free agency, instead agreeing to a new contract with the Washington Nationals that will pay the pitcher $175 million over seven seasons starting in 2017, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.
The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday night — while Strasburg was pitching against the Detroit Tigers — because the Nationals had not announced the deal.
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Rather than heading to the open market, Strasburg took a sure thing right now, eliminating any worries about the possibility of an injury lowering what a team might be willing to pay this offseason. So he will stay with the Nationals, the team that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2009 and — in a move debated around baseball — shut him down before the playoffs in his NL All-Star season of 2012 to protect his surgically repaired right elbow.
The 27-year-old Strasburg entered Wednesday’s start with a 59-37 record and a 3.06 ERA across 138 appearances, all starts. He led the National League in strikeouts with 242 in 2014.
Strasburg will go from making $7.4 million this season to earning $25 million annually from 2017-23. The new deal’s total dollars match the 2013-19 contract of Seattle’s Felix Hernandez for the sixth-highest among big league pitchers.
The new contract has an escape clause, though: Strasburg can opt out and become a free agent after the 2019 or 2020 seasons.
Strasburg would earn a $1 million performance bonus each year for pitching 180 innings.
David Price’s deal with the Boston Red Sox that started this season is worth a record $217 million over seven years. Another one of the handful of deals for a pitcher that tops Strasburg’s is the one his Nationals teammate Max Scherzer received as a free agent before last season, paying $210 million, although half of that is deferred money.