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Dumb and Dumberer: The Nationals Sign Stephen Strasburg

One great thing about the movie Dumb and Dumberer is that the title is more ridiculous than the original film, Dumb and Dumber, because Dumberer is not even a word. From the first film to the second, as the movie franchise continued, it got…dumber.

One could say the same about the Nationals’ signing of Stephen Strasburg. The Nationals just got dumber. They signed a pitcher to a peak years contract length at peak years value. Unfortunately, Strasburg is 31 and at the end of his prime. The Nationals paid big money, for a pitcher who will not, nearly live up to his salary.

The Nationals will regret this contract big time before long.

I don’t even really need to get into the details. Over the past four years, Strasburg averaged 165 innings and 4.5 WAR per year. This was his prime. At 31 years old, Strasburg at the end of his prime. His performance will almost certainly decline between now and his age 37/38 season. This is going to be the gift that keeps on giving. Unfortunately, it will be giving to the agent Scott Boras and Strasburg at the expense of the Nationals payroll.

I get that the Nationals won the World Series and that Stephen Strasburg was a big part of that. But decisions based on emotion are what often kill franchises. The New England Patriots are what they are in a salary capped league because they always seem to make the smart choice. The Nationals just chose with their hearts, rather than with their mind, and it will negatively impact the team from the moment the ink dries on the new contract.

What does this now mean for Gerrit Cole? Well certainly Scott Boras will use this contract as evidence that the market has shifted away from rationality and back to irrationality. If Strasburg can get 7 years at the age of 31, the more talented Cole should get 9 years at the age of 29.

Of course, Boras’ claims will rely on the assumption that at least one of the bidders for Cole is as dumb as the Nationals are.

Or, even dumberer.

The Yankees have largely avoided the dumb and certainly the dumberer since the Jacoby Ellsbury signing six years ago. The Yankees have been smart. It’s why they have a great core and are mostly free of back breakingly stupid contracts.

I’m okay with the Yankees signing Gerrit Cole to a 7 year deal. In whatever deal they sign him to, they will likely get 2 two years of elite performance out of Cole and maybe, with that, a World Series title. But nine years? That’s insanity and I hope that Cashman has the guts to just say no.

9 years would be Dumberer.

Dumb and Dumberer? That’s a movie. Hollywood is the world capital of movies. 9 years for Gerrit Cole has the Los Angeles Angels written all over it.


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