With Steven Strasburg signing a seven-year $175 million extension, and Jake Arrieta making clear he plans to get “Aces Money”, it’s gotten me thinking about home-town discounts. Strasburg’s contract sure looks like less than he’d have gotten as a free agent the way he’s pitching this season, and the conventional wisdom is that he wanted to stay with the team, because they didn’t over-pitch him coming back from his Tommy John Surgery.
The contract does contain opt-outs after the third and fourth seasons, which means he can cash in again if his arm and effectiveness hold up. On the other hand, as much as $10 million a year is deferred until after Strasburg’s likely retirement, which saves the team money and makes it a whole more certain that Strasburg can continue to live the life to which he’s becomimg accustomed after his playing days are over. There are also tax advantages to the player by deferring the money.
The fact that Scott Boras is Strasburg’s agent makes the deal something of a surprise, although I give Boras credit that he’s definitely allowing his client to make the ultimate decisions about where he wants to go with his career.
The Cubs paid big-time to bring in more big stars this year at free agent prices, and I’m sure Arrieta figures he needs to get his too. Also, I wonder whether the Cubs’ decision to keep Kris Bryant in the minors long after he was ready, so they could hold on to him for another year before free agency, had any impact on Arrieta’s apparent decision to make clear that he won’t be accepting any home-town discounts.
If the fully-loaded Cubs finally break the curse in the next three seasons, I wonder what effect that will have on Kris Bryant’s decision whether or not to become a free agent as soon as possible.