Strasburg was reported late last month to be retiring, but subsequent reports Thursday indicated that he and the Nationals are still negotiating a settlement over the remaining money on his contract, causing the team to cancel plans for a news conference Saturday.
The Nationals released a statement to Yahoo Sports calling leaks about Strasburg possibly retiring "regrettable" and denying that a news conference to announce such a decision was ever firmly planned.
The full statement:
"Stephen Strasburg is and always will be an important part of the Washington Nationals franchise. We support him in any decision he makes and will ensure that he receives what is due to him.
"It is regrettable that private discussions have been made public through anonymous sources attempting to negotiate through the media. While we have been following the process required by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, behind-the-scenes preparations for a press conference had begun internally. However, no such event was ever confirmed by the team or promoted publicly. It is unfortunate that external leaks in the press have mischaracterized these events.
"It is our hope that ongoing conversations remain private out of respect for the individuals involved. Until then, we look forward to seeing Stephen when we report to Spring Training."
It's widely believed that Strasburg has already played his final game in MLB after a number of setbacks related to thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition known for ruining pitchers' careers. Strasburg was diagnosed with TOS in 2021 and has pitched in one game since.
Strasburg is currently on the fourth year of the seven-year, $245 million contract he signed after winning World Series MVP in 2019. As long as Strasburg continues to work toward a return, he will be owed his $32.5 million annual salary (via Cot's Contracts) through 2026.
When a player retires while still under contract, the two sides usually agree to a settlement that pays most of what is owed to a player. The Nationals will likely be looking for any concession they can get in that regard, as they reportedly didn't insure his contract against potential catastrophic injuries due to the high premiums that would've been required, given Strasburg's injury history.
When Strasburg's supposed retirement was initially reported, details on the terms of a settlement were hazy, and it has since become clear why. There was never any firm agreement between the two sides in a negotiation in which Strasburg holds most of the cards.
Neither side has much reason to air this out publicly, but the Nationals clearly don't want anyone blaming them for what is rapidly becoming an awkward situation for all involved.