There are some people who love taking risks. Some people love to jump out of airplanes, go hang gliding, rock climbing and other activities aimed at getting the adrenaline pumping at the thought of possible death.
And then there are those who watch people do those things and think to themselves, "Those people are idiots."
Which one of those people you are can largely be indicated by how you felt about Stephen Strasburg's impending free agency this off-season. As the lone ace-level pitcher on the open market after the 2016 season, there were teams who would undoubtedly have been lining up to give him a seven-year contract in excess of $200 million, despite the Tommy John past.
There are also teams that would have wanted nothing to do with taking a risk like that. After all, pitchers who suffer major arm injuries are more likely to suffer an arm problem again in their career. It's just a matter of when, a nasty game of hot potato.
Well now, the point is moot.
Stephen Strasburg's contract -- 7 years, $175 million -- is largest ever for a pitcher who has had Tommy John surgery. @MLBNetwork— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) May 10, 2016
Stras' teammate Jordan Zimmerman previously held the record for the largest contract ever received by a Tommy John survivor, at five years and $110 million. The deal also includes a rolling option after years three and four, meaning that Strasburg could once again hit the open market at age 31.
Strasburg undoubtedly left some money on the table, especially when you consider the absolute dreck that is going to be available in the free agent market this winter.
with strasburg off board: among better FA SP: dickey, cashner, niese, weaver, medlen (team options on gio, garcia, hammel)— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) May 10, 2016
Were the Phillies going to be serious suitors for Strasburg this off-season? It's hard to say.
Certainly the Phils have the money to go after whoever they want. And unless you believe Aaron Nola is a true, No. 1 ace pitcher for a playoff caliber rotation (which he may be), the team will probably be in the market for a true ace hurler at some point in the next couple of years.
Strasburg would have hit free agency at the very young age of 28, making him all the more enticing. However, spending more than $200 million on a pitcher who has only had one season in which he's pitched more than 200 innings and has a major surgery in his ledger is a huge gamble.
Félix Hernández had five 200-IP seasons under his belt when he signed his 7-year, $175M contract— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 10, 2016
Stephen Strasburg has one
If Stras' elbow fails again before one of those rolling option years, there's no way he opts out, and the Nationals are hamstrung for years.
Of course, right now, he's off to the best start of his career. So far he's 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA and a 2.24 fielding independent pitching (FIP), striking out 10.65 batters per nine innings while walking 2.20. Coming into his game on Monday, he was tied for second in fWAR at 1.7, and his 58 strikeouts after the Tigers game were second-most in the Majors.
And just to pump the brakes on another front, for those who think this means the Nationals won't be able to sign Bryce Harper to a long-term extension, consider that the agent for Strasburg is Scott Boras. The agent for Harper is also Scott Boras. And the Nats and Boras are practically joined at the hip.
Probably helps to have Boras if u want long-term #nationals deal. Werth/Scherzer/Strasburg all got 7 yrs. Now who is Harper's agt? Oh, right— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) May 10, 2016
Who knows if the Phillies would have even been knocking on Strasburg's door this fall. It's just as likely the team wouldn't have been interested in investing that kind of cash on something so risky.
Regardless, Strasburg has made their decision for them.