As for Bryce, it'll be talked about today because it was so public but it wasn't anything new. Players go after umps (and umps go after players). They sometimes, you may want to sit down for this, use bad words! It's not how you want these guys to act as public figures but it happens. He'll get fined, hopefully nothing more (I can't see how it would be without setting a crazy precedent) and it'll go away. Well it'll probably expand his strike zone for a day or two but it's Bryce. He can handle that. This is all the discussion this deserves. Let's move on again
OK Strasburg. First off I like the deal because it shows the commitment level to what I like to call the Bryce Window. Bryce will be with the Nats at least through 2018, meaning the best chance for the Nats to win goes through 2018. Next year had a good chance to be almost a rebuilding year if the Nats lost Strasburg, Ramos, Papelbon and tried to fill those positions with just young players. Signing Stras shows a commitment to winning when winning looks most possible. Sure it's possible the Nats will be a playoff level team post-Bryce. That is in fact the goal - create a good team for a long time. But looking at Rendon and Scherzer this year so far should tell you the pitfalls of planning for a future even just a couple years away. The Nats are good right now. Bet on this year. Bet on next. Worry about after that, after that.
I do have other thoughts. I think if you are a "future looking" Nats fan this is a risky deal. Strasburg is a talent but he's also a guy who pitched one full season in five potential full professional seasons. There has been major surgery, there has been a big chunk of a season missed, and there have been nicks and dings. The thing that predicts future injury best is past injury and Strasburg has that in spades. On his side though is youth. He's a young guy so if he remains healthy it's doubtful he'll go through major decline for several years. If you are going to bet on someone with injury history, bet on a young guy with loads of talent.
I am curious though how much of this is Lerner and not Rizzo. Rizzo had real hesitation signing ZNN to a long term deal because in part to his feelings on the post TJ arm. Strasburg is the same situation and while younger is more injury prone. It feels to me exactly the type of deal Rizzo would shy away from. If it is a Lerner deal what does that mean for the unecssarily still ongoing "Rizzo not signed past this year" thing? This is all probably nothing but we'll see.
As for other "probably nothing" things - what the shutdown has to do with this. Some people will claim it's a victory for the shutdown. We can go over again how that isn't anything close to provable at least in terms of his health or the positive impact for the Nats. Maybe it did help bring Strasburg back though, but this deal was fairly close to the max he could expect. Maybe he closes in on 200 mil. It was a weak year for FA starting pitching, but bc of the lack of tangible success and injury history he wasn't getting a Kershaw deal or a Price deal, which makes 7 / 175 look right on target. If you ask me to guess I would bet Strasburg put out feelers to the Southern Cal teams to see if any of them were willing to bid on his services this offseason. They said no and Stras thought - why go through FA to get a few more bucks to move somewhere else that's not home? But this is just a guess.
I do wonder what Ian's travails did to effect Strasburg. Could he fear an injury or down performance to end this year severely hurting his value? Certainly another arm injury now would crash that FA contract and it's not like he has a long history of being the best pitcher to fall back on. Very good? Yes. But not the best. I also wonder if ZNN walking on the Nats fair but nothing more deal got the Nats to pony up what would probably be market value for Stras. Could be both the player and team learned from what's happened in the past.
The last thing I'll note is that while I like this deal it does have the potential to end very very badly. This is not just because "he could get injured" or "he could pitch poorly" but because of Stras' particular relation to the people in DC. That is to say - many fans and lookie-loos already are inclined to dislike him. He hasn't put up amazing seasons. He hasn't led the Nats to anything. His win totals are lower than they should be. Fans spent most of the past few seasons picking apart each start looking for a reason to complain. If he is now paid 25 million and fails to live up to it or get the Nats playoff success of some sort it could turn ugly. This is just the way it works with some guys. Werth was teflon. Zimm is a standard bearer. Strasburg never got the fans to his side. He still could, but if he doesn't then he'll be raked over the coals.
So great deal in my mind. It's time to win now and this sets up winning now (or very close to now).