Stephen Strasburg just helped the Washington Nationals to their first World Series win. After a decade in D.C., he has opted to test the waters of free agency and declined to play out the final four years of his $100 million contract.

He could potentially land at any number of clubs who are willing to pay big bucks for the starter’s signature. However, due to a number of factors, there are five potential suitors who stand above the others who look likely to land Strasburg.

Philadelphia Phillies

This list is starting with the least likely suitor. The Phillies have struggled for years against their old foe Strasburg and they want to be aggressive this offseason in pursuit of an NL East crown. Last winter they lured former Washington National Bryce Harper with a mega-money contract so could try the same this year.

Philadelphia’s starting rotation is weak, to say the least with only Aaron Nola having a guaranteed place. So, it makes perfect sense for the Phillies to at least make a play for Strasburg or perhaps Gerrit Cole.

However, other than money, there isn’t much to tempt the California native to the city of brotherly love. That means that if fans are to see Strasburg line up for the Phillies next season, they will have to break the bank.

Perhaps they will be willing to if one or more division rivals enter their hats into the ring.

Washington's Stephen Strasburg allowed only two runs on five hits over 8 1/3 innings as the Nationals beat Houston 7-2 to force a seventh and deciding game of the World Series on Wednesday
Washington's Stephen Strasburg allowed only two runs on five hits over 8 1/3 innings as the Nationals beat Houston 7-2 to force a seventh and deciding game of the World Series on Wednesday GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Mike Ehrmann

New York Yankees

Speaking of giving free agents huge contracts, the New York Yankees are also contenders in the Stephen Strasburg sweepstakes. The Bombers may have a terrific bullpen, even without Dellin Betances, but their starters struggled at times during the 2019 season.

Therefore, the rotation will likely be the first item on the agenda for GM Brian Cashman this offseason. There are a number of options in the free agent market, including Cole and Madison Bumgarner, but the Yankees will surely at least make contact with the Strasburg camp.

A move for the veteran righty makes sense for the club, just as with Philadelphia, but the issue here is a lack of geographical ties, just as with the Phillies. One upside the Yankees can offer, however, is recent postseason history.

New York may have fallen to the Houston Astros in six games during the ALCS, however, the Phillies only barely finished with a .500 record, going 81-81 in 2019.

San Diego Padres

Being a San Diego native must make the Padres look like a somewhat appealing destination for Stephen Strasburg. While they are certainly a small market team, the Padres have at times splashed the cash in the free agent market, so they may be able to make the money work.

Should they, it would revitalize an organization that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2006. Manny Machado projects to have a bounce-back second season in San Diego, Fernando Tatis Jr. showed flashes of brilliance in his rookie campaign and Kirby Yates is an elite closer.

Add to all that a farm system which ranks as the best in the bigs by MLB Pipeline and it looks like the Padres may only be an ingredient or two away from post-season baseball. Strasburg is perhaps that missing ingredient.

The biggest challenge for this one is money. Strasburg might be tempted to accept a hometown discount to make this move work, however, money has a way of motivating players to do unexpected things like not sign for their childhood team.

Washington Nationals

Even though it was widely-expected for Strasburg to opt out of his final four years in Washington, it has always felt like he would be back. The Nats do have other areas of concern this off-season, specifically re-signing Anthony Rendon which will present its own set of challenges.

Rendon, just like Strasburg, will receive a huge payday this winter and the only real question is where are they going to land once they have signed their mega contracts. ESPN’s Jeff Passan already predicted that Rendon could receive as much as $40 million annually in free agency and Strasburg will certainly get more than the $25 million per year he was due with his last contract.

Could the Nationals pay both? It is, somewhat surprisingly, not out of the question and if they can retain both players, Washington will certainly like to do so.

Los Angeles Angels

Although each of these clubs has a reason to want to give Strasburg the money he wants, the Angels may be the most motivated. The window of Mike Trout’s prime is closing and the team is coming off of a terrible season in which their starting pitching was the biggest disappointment.

The Halos also have a history of dropping big contracts on big names in free agency, just ask Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton. The Angels weren’t put off by the ages or injury histories of either player and perhaps GM Billy Eppler will be tempted to do something similar this winter.

However, with fellow free agent Gerrit Cole being a Los Angeles native and two years Strasburg’s junior, Arte Moreno and company may be more wedded to signing the former than the latter. One issue may be the fact that Cole will probably demand more money than Strasburg, in which case making the former National more appealing.

Let’s also not forget that the Angels have other areas of need outside of pitching, so they may be willing to “settle” on Stephen Strasburg to save a few million each year in salary. Due to motivation and ability, the Angels are the likeliest destination for Stephen Strasburg this winter.