Stephen Strasburg has earned north of $86 million in cash through 11 seasons with the Nationals. Under the terms of the contract the pitcher recently signed to remain in Washington for at least seven more years, he will earn another $80 million from 2027 to 2029 not for striking out batters, but simply for existing as a human being.
Such a contract deferral is part of the reason Strasburg gladly re-signed with the Nationals in December after opting out of his previous Washington contract a month prior. It, of course, helps that Washington is the reigning World Series champion on the strength of its ace pitcher’s World Series MVP effort.
With a seven-year contract worth $245 million, Strasburg was the highest-paid pitcher ever in terms of average annual salary ($35 million) for about a day. The Yankees signed Garrit Cole to a record contract worth $36 million per year right after the Nats re-signed Strasburg, but the 32-year-old Washington pitcher is still in great shape with his deal.
Hypothetically, if Strasburg were to play out the rest of his current contract with the Nationals — he has a full no-trade clause — the right-hander’s career earnings would be a few dollars shy of $351 million, and potentially more if he hits incentives. That includes the three years of deferred money he will earn even if he doesn’t touch a baseball after the 2026 season.
Below are the details of the contract Strasburg signed with the Nationals shortly after he helped them win the World Series. (All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.)
Stephen Strasburg contract
In typical Nationals fashion, the team deferred $80 million of Strasburg’s $245 million contract in an effort to preserve payroll flexibility in the short term. So while his base salary is $35 million in each of the next seven years, that deferral is reflected in the actual amount of cash he will earn each season.
Below is the cash flow in Strasburg’s current contract. (His 2020 figure represents his prorated salary as MLB returns to play on a condensed schedule.)
|Year||Base/payroll salary||Adjusted salary/Yearly cash|
Because Strasburg’s 2020 salary has been prorated, his total contract value is now $228.95 million.
Strasburg also had some deferred money on his previous contract with the Nationals, which was signed in 2016. When he opted out of that deal, he reduced the deferred money to $30 million over the next three years.
Including the deferred money in Strasburg’s new contract, below is a year-by-year breakdown of his upcoming deferred contracts with Washington. (The 2029 figure includes $3.9 million of interest payout.)
Strasburg also has multiple incentives built into his contract. Below is the extra money he can earn if he continues at his elite level of pitching.
- Cy Young or MVP award: $500,000 ($250,000 for 2nd, $150,000 for 3rd, $100,000 for 4th, $75,000 for 5th)
- World Series MVP: $250,000
- All-Star selection: $100,000
- Gold Glove: $100,000
- Silver Slugger: $100,000
Strasburg, who is managing a 3.17 ERA and a 33.5 WAR in 239 career games (all starts), is coming off a championship year in which he threw a National League-leading 209 innings during the regular season.
There’s little reason to believe he won’t be able to make up some of the lost 2020 salary by hitting at least a couple of those incentives.