Days after being named World Series MVP, Stephen Strasburg opted out of his contract with the Washington Nationals and will test free agency for the first time.
By opting out, Strasburg leaves $100 million on the table and will roll the dice on the open market in the hope of securing a more lucrative deal at 31 years old.
Coming off one of his best regular seasons and a spectacular postseason, the right-hander is in a good position to trump his previous arrangement with the Nationals.
His injury history could present a red flag, but Strasburg remains the second-best arm available in free agency, behind Gerrit Cole.
Here are seven possible landing spots for the three-time All-Star:
The Astros got an up-close-and-personal look at Strasburg in the World Series. The righty won both of his starts against Houston, striking out 14 in 14 1/3 innings. He outdueled future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander in both of his appearances and held an explosive Astros offense in check, allowing four runs across two outings. Astros owner Jim Crane said they "may make a run" at re-signing Cole in free agency, but if they can't make that happen and are willing to fork out the dough, Strasburg would be a tremendous backup plan.
Houston will surely want to exorcise its World Series demons next season. A rotation consisting of the still-recovering Lance McCullers Jr. and unestablished arms in Jose Urquidy and Rogelio Armenteros behind Verlander and Zack Greinke might not be enough.
Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have made one (brutally unsuccessful) playoff appearance since 2010 and continue to waste Mike Trout's best years. With new manager Joe Maddon in place and an owner willing to open his pockets, now is the time for the Halos to make a move. Starting pitching has been their Achilles heel, so adding an arm like Strasburg's is a must if they want to contend. In 2019, Angels starters posted the highest ERA (5.64), lowest WAR (3.3), and second-worst FIP (5.41) in the American League, according to FanGraphs, and as the playoffs proved once again, good starting pitching is imperative for teams with World Series aspirations.
L.A. was rumored to be the favorite to land Cole, but he recently denied he'll sign somewhere just to be close to his Southern California home. That could leave the door open for the San Diego-born Strasburg, and he'd provide the Angels with a lethal one-two punch alongside Shohei Ohtani atop the rotation.