Nats should discover Stras’ real value

18 08 2009

 

The Nationals need something more than Stephen Strasburg -- they need lots of young talent (AP)

The Nationals need something more than Stephen Strasburg -- they need lots of young talent (AP)

  Now that the Nationals have secured Stephen Strasburg as an official member of their team, they should everything within their power to extract as much value as possible from him — by trading him.

Think about it. What do the Nats need more than anything? It’s not necessarily an ace, although they need that, too. (And there is no assurance Strasburg will become that, despite his domination of the Mountain West Conference while at San Diego State.)

What this franchise needs is a collection of young talent. They need a dynamic farm system for a variety of reasons: to establish competition in the Minors for the purpose of creating Major League-ready prospects; to give them depth for injuries to their Major League roster; to provide future trade leverage for established, difference-making veterans. The Nats have none of that. Their best young prospect prior to the Stras signing, pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, will be out for at least the next calender year once he undergoes Tommy John surgery tomorrow. There isn’t an elite position player in their farm system.

Best of all for the Nats, Strasburg’s contract comes at the relatively cheap price of $15 million. We just saw Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee go through the Trade Deadline with teams uncertain whether they wanted to trade their best prospects due to the starters’ expiring contracts next year and the prohibitive costs that would come with their new deals. Stras is signed long-term at an affordable price, and we can surmise the Nationals aren’t the only franchise highly interested in the 20-year-old. 

Given the state of their franchise, the Nats should build as the Pirates have. The Pirates traded just about every veteran they could to stockpile young talent. Nobody knows if it’ll work but the alternative to their plan — playing and paying average to above-average veterans — was a path with which the Pirates had become familiar for a decade and a half. The Nats shouldn’t want to fall into that trap.

They might not have another chance to deal a player like Strasburg: a player with supreme trade value due to his talent, makeup and exceedingly affordable contract. It would be of no use to have a potential ace if they can’t support that pitcher with an accumulation of good players around him. As much hope as Strasburg will supposedly bring Nationals fans, a plethora of talented young position players and pitchers would be the jump start the franchise truly needs. The Nationals can make it happen if they’re truly interested in maximizing Strasburg’s value.

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