home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


December 9, 2019

Mike Rizzo

Scott Borsa

San Diego, California

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. This afternoon the Washington Nationals announced the signing of a seven-year contract with right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg. Joining us is Mike Rizzo, president of baseball operations and general manager of the Washington Nationals, and Stephen's manager, Scott Boras.

MIKE RIZZO: We couldn't be happier to announce the re-signing of one of our most important players on the roster, Stephen Strasburg. As you all know, he's a player near and dear to my heart -- drafted, signed, developed, turned into a superstar right before our eyes with Washington on the front of his chest. So we couldn't be happier that we signed him long term.

He's a wonderful person, a wonderful player, and a true champion. So we're very happy to have him in the fold for the next seven years. Hopefully, he has continued success personally and with the team. We're happy to have him, and hopefully he leads us to many more happy moments.

SCOTT BORAS: It's very rare that a legacy for a team and a legacy for a player can, in our game, continue as this one has. I think there always has to be that trust factor that exists between an organization and a player. I think the Washington Nationals and Stephen Strasburg built a trust based upon an early position by Ted Lerner and the Washington organization and Mike Rizzo about the protection of a player.

We came to them with doctor's information about protecting a player that caused great concern about the team's performance that year, but the club took a long-term interest in that player. I think that Stephen Strasburg has rewarded the Nationals with a championship, his performance, a World Series MVP because of the position that this organization took to take the medical advice and protect the player long term, even though the immediate effect caused a great deal of angst among the club and the fans.

I must say that for Stephen, for him to establish a legacy and wear the curly W for his career was something that was very important to him, and I think it was because he knew that people in this organization cared deeply about him and always cared about his interests and the interests of his family, and because of that, he decided to stay at home and stay in one uniform and remain a Washington National for the remainder of his career.

THE MODERATOR: We'll open the floor to questions.

Q. Rizz, how important was already having this kind of relationship with Strasburg, when you commit this kind of money? Obviously, you guys have signed Scherzer and Corbin, and you've committed to starting pitchers in the past, but this kind of a deal, this kind of commitment, how much does it help to have that relationship, to know the player the way you do?
MIKE RIZZO: Well, I think it couldn't be more important. I often say that these type of deals with these type of numbers and these type of years that you're allocating towards one person is really about the person more so than the player. We knew this person. We know his character. We know his work ethic, and we know that these type of dollars, these type of years are not going to affect the way he prepares, the way he competes, and the way he cares about the name on the front of the jersey more than the name on the back.

Q. Scott, you mentioned Stephen wanting to stay at home in D.C. I think for a lot of people who always thought of San Diego as home, they may be surprised how over the years Stephen has moved his family to D.C. and really embraced that as his new home. How have you seen that happen over the years, and do you think it's rare at all that, in a case like that, where he really has truly adopted D.C. as his new home and wants to be there for his whole career?
SCOTT BORAS: I think some of the greatest players in the game, they have the origins of where they're raised and their home that they'll never forget. Then they also have their baseball home, and I think winning this championship and the relationship with the Lerner family and with Mike and his staff, it's been a continuum of communication, of really listening to the needs of players, and really watching and trusting that they understood who Stephen Strasburg was so that they could reach the pinnacle of both his performance and their objectives.

The patience required to do that for ownership and the organization to go through something like that, it took on a heavy burden, and I just think that throughout this relationship Stephen has recognized that and has now signed two contracts with them to continue his legacy with the franchise.

Q. Scott, when you guys did the extension and added the opt outs in, and you envisioned how that may play out and how that may go, now that we see this contract, is this how you envisioned that he might have the flexibility if he maximized everything and then be able to circle back with this?
SCOTT BORAS: I think we all knew that Stephen had the capacity to an elite performer, both because of his mental skills and physical skills, and we also knew at the time he signed previously that he had not had enough experience in the major leagues to develop the secondary pitches -- his breaking ball, his change-up -- to the level he has today.

I think all of us expected him to be a superstar, so for that reason, that contract worked out great. That time frame, that three years positioned him. Stephen became a true number one pitcher and also became something that even great pitchers have difficulty with, he became a great postseason pitcher because he won huge elimination games, key games that even a lot of great pitchers have difficulty winning at that time.

So he really, the contract gave the foundation -- and I think Rizz and I agreed when we did it -- that that period of time was needed for both of us to properly evaluate Stephen on optimally what he could be. I think it worked out great for both.

Q. Mike, given the value of this contract, how would you say it affects your guys' ability to bring back Anthony Rendon and where it puts you in the running for him?
MIKE RIZZO: You look at the history of the Nationals and the way we've positioned ourselves and the details of the contract and the way that it's structured, this ownership group has never shied away from putting the resources together to field a championship-caliber club. I don't see them in any way hindering us from going after the elite players in the game.

I think that Anthony Rendon is, again, one of the players that is most near and dear to my heart, a guy we've drafted, signed, developed, watched turn into a superstar, playoff success, and a huge part of the world championship run that we went on. So he's a guy that we love.

The ownership has always given us the resources to field a great team, and we're always trying to win, and we're going to continue to do so.

Q. Mark Lerner had said last week, though, that you guys weren't able to afford both of them?

Q. He did say that. Is that different than the marching orders you've gotten from him, or how would you say that's going to affect how you'll act moving forward?
MIKE RIZZO: Well, when you look at those comments, and then you look at the structure of this particular deal and the structure of deals we've had getting up to where we are right now, I think that Mark realizes that there's ways to fit players in, there's ways that you can field a championship-caliber roster -- and, again, the resources have always been there, so I don't expect that to change.

Q. Scott, was there any chance during the negotiation that Stephen Strasburg was going to leave and go to another team? I mean, you talk about you understand how important it is for him to be in D.C., but the negotiations took a while. Was there ever a time you said, gee, he might be leaving Washington?
SCOTT BORAS: Took a while? I don't know where you've been the last two years, but this is like the beginning of the summer for me. (Laughter.)

I think every player wants to hear from the exterior about who they are, what they mean, and really understand other organizations, and it's really good for players to do that. I think the one thing about the ownership here is that they gave Rizz direction to move forward and move forward quickly, and they did so knowing who Stephen was, and Stephen appreciated that, took that direction, and acted upon it.

And really, certainly, I think some players would maybe want to listen more, do more, but I think in Stephen's case and in the Nationals' case, they have this bridge of trust and understanding that was based from long ago, and they reached a point of fairness. Stephen also made sure that he wanted to do something in this contract that allowed the team to sign the best players and to have the best teams, and he did that. So the mutuality, the intentions were there, so that allowed us to reach a deal rather quickly.

Q. Scott, how do you think this affects the rest of the pitching market now that we've had Wheeler gone, Strasburg is gone, you still have Bumgarner out there, you have Ryu out there, and, of course, your guy Cole. Is it going to grow higher as we keep moving along?
SCOTT BORAS: I'm going to have a press conference tomorrow at noon, and I'll address all those things then. I think I want to just confine this to Stras and the Washington Nationals right now, Barry.

Q. Rizz, kind of piggy-backing off what Jesse said, you talked about the resources that ownership has made available. Given that with this kind of commitment, are you guys still committed to staying under that luxury tax, or could you see a scenario where you come close to it and ownership gives you that go ahead?
MIKE RIZZO: We haven't discussed those parameters yet. Suffice it to say that this is an important deal for us to get done. It's kind of the stepping stone of the beginning of our off-season. We've got Howie under contract, and now we've got Stras under contract. We're kind of checking off all of our needs and all of our wants in the off-season.

I just go back to the point that it's all about asset allocation, and I think that the ownership has been very fair with the resources that they've given me to field a good team, and the proof's in the pudding. We put together a good, solid, competitive team for the last eight years. We won four division titles. We won a Wild Card title, and we won the World title. So we're in a good position to continue that, and I think that with the support of our ownership, we're in good stead.

Q. Mike, on that same point, though, you do understand Washington-baseball wise, if a player like Rendon isn't brought back or any player that's important to a National Championship team doesn't come back, that takes a hit on people who were there for the experience to see you guys win it all. I guess what I'm saying, is there any understanding of how that might affect the people who supported this team all along if all of the guys who were there to win it all are back next year?
MIKE RIZZO: Absolutely. We're all about winning it all. That's what we're all about. That's what fan base is all about. I think we're going to field the team that gives us the best opportunity to do that.

Q. Scott, what did Stephen ask of you during this process? Were there things that -- Harper asked for the no-trade clause last year. Was there anything in particular that Stephen asked for this time around?
SCOTT BORAS: I think for Stephen it was about family first. He has two beautiful young daughters, and he wanted to make sure he could situate them most comfortably as his career began really a contract of this length, at this time in his career.

I think the second part of it was winning. And his teammates. He spoke throughout the process about his teammates and what it meant to play with them and making sure that -- I think when you go to do these contracts, in fairness to Mark and everyone else, is you really don't know what can be done inside a contract to create opportunities so that aspects of the team can be looked at a little differently than was even anticipated, and Stephen had that in mind when he directed me to negotiate and create a value, a fair market value for him, but also a structure that allowed the team to continue at a championship level.

So those were the primary aspects of it. He certainly wanted to make sure also that the stadium in D.C. was open every day in the off-season so he can go there and work out and do all the things he can do and wanted to make sure that he invited the entire Washington community to come watch him while he's doing it. I'm kidding on the last part.

Q. Have you got any more detail about the structure?
SCOTT BORAS: Obviously, there's measures in this contract that allow for the club to extend the payouts a few extra years in the contract that allows the immediacy of their payroll in the current year is where it has more flexibility.

Q. Mike, Stephen led the NL in innings pitched this year and talked about how he tweaked his routine, like Scott was just talking about, the workouts at Nationals Park. How much did seeing him be in that space throw more pitches than anybody else in the league this year give you guys assurance that his long term health is going to be a good thing, as much as you could figure that out with a pitcher, and do you feel like he's in a spot now where he knows basically precisely what he needs to do in order to be on the mound 30, 32 times every regular season?
MIKE RIZZO: The transformation of Stephen Strasburg from the pitcher that we drafted to the pitcher that was the World Series MVP is vast. You're talking about a pitcher who's revamped his diet, his workout regimen, his throwing program, his mechanics, his repertoire, his total being in the clubhouse and on the field. We think that he's got extremely good stuff, and his pitch ability has gotten better and better and better each and every year.

I've said this for years that, when he's on the mound, he's one of the top three or four pitchers in all of baseball. He always has been. And the secret was to keep him on the mound as often as possible. I think he's done a great job with that. I think that our medical professionals in our clubhouse have really helped that with our training staff and our medical staff. I really think that our pitching coaches and our pitching coordinators have really helped with mechanical tweaks and fixes, and Stephen himself has really educated himself on how to stay healthy and be the best Stephen Strasburg he can be.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297