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Strasburg's opt-out decision looms

@feinsand
November 2, 2019

It was a memorable day for the Nationals, who reveled in the glory of their World Series championship with a parade Saturday through the streets of Washington, D.C. For Stephen Strasburg, the timing was … a little bit awkward. The World Series MVP has an opt-out clause in his contract

It was a memorable day for the Nationals, who reveled in the glory of their World Series championship with a parade Saturday through the streets of Washington, D.C.

For Stephen Strasburg, the timing was … a little bit awkward.

The World Series MVP has an opt-out clause in his contract that allows him to bypass the final four years and $100 million of his deal to become a free agent. The deadline for him to opt out of the contract was noon ET Saturday -- two hours before the parade was set to commence. No announcement concerning Strasburg's decision was made as the deadline passed.

The deadline, of course, was written into the contract more than three years ago, when agent Scott Boras and general manager Mike Rizzo hammered out the seven-year, $175 million extension. The idea of the deadline clashing with a championship parade probably didn’t enter either of their minds, yet that’s the unique scenario Strasburg now faces.

Deadlines, of course, aren’t always hard and fast. The two sides can agree to extend it for a day or two in order to avoid the bizarre situation.

Last year, Clayton Kershaw had a similar opt-out situation with the Dodgers, though not for the same reason. Kershaw was facing a decision on whether to opt out of the final two years and $65 million of his contract, his deadline coming three days after the Dodgers lost a five-game World Series against the Red Sox.

Kershaw and the Dodgers extended the deadline from midnight Wednesday to 4 p.m. ET Friday, giving the two sides an additional 40 hours to work out a new deal. That’s precisely what happened, as Kershaw agreed to a new three-year deal for $93 million to stay in Los Angeles.

Strasburg is widely expected to opt out of his contract, or at least use the opt-out as leverage to negotiate an extension, which is what Kershaw did last November. Regardless of whether Straburg actually opts out and hits the open market, industry insiders believe he will stay in Washington, signing a new -- and more lucrative -- deal with the Nationals.

After going 18-6 with a 3.32 ERA and a National League-leading 209 innings pitched during the regular season, the right-hander pitched to a 1.98 ERA in six postseason starts, becoming the first pitcher in history to go 5-0 in a single postseason.

Mark Feinsand, an executive reporter, originally joined MLB.com as a reporter in 2001.