SNIDER: Nats need to make Strasburg offer personal

The Nationals need to show Stephen Strasburg some love before the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees overwhelm him with money.

Nats general manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Monday that he hasn’t recently met with Strasburg or free agent Anthony Rendon, saying past years with players should speak to the team’s interest.

Sorry, it doesn’t work that way in free agency.

It’s all about money. Repeat – it’s all about money. There are no hometown discounts aside Ryan Zimmerman trying to extend his career in Washington, which seems like a no-brainer.
But Strasburg and Rendon aren’t from Washington nor will they likely retire here despite never needing to buy a drink again in this town after helping to win the World Series in October.

No, it’s about even more money than Strasburg’s future grandchildren can spend. While $25 million annually seems like a nice round number, the Dodgers and Yankees can round up to $30 million or more with their large-market profits. Strasburg is from San Diego and West Coasters tend to like staying there over the East Coast when possible. No matter Strasburg owns a home in Washington. He can sell it even at a loss and buy another.

But assuming the Nats match other offers, the key here is making Strasburg seem like family. Not that they don’t have a great relationship, but agents and others will whisper to the pitcher it’s all about money and not personal. Rizzo is not a touchy, feely guy, which is something I like about him. Neither is Strasburg despite the dugout postseason hugs.

But making Strasburg seem more important than saying the team values him isn’t enough. The Nats gotta get personal here. Remind Strasburg that they drafted and waited on him for a decade before finally delivering. The team has done everything it could to protect Strasburg against future arm troubles.

And then write a whopping check like the Dodgers’ or Yankees’ offer. Add some little hearts above the I’s in millions.

It won’t be easy to keep both Strasburg and Rendon, but it wasn’t easy winning the World Series. Finish the fight – keep both players. Don’t let New York or Los Angeles steal an invaluable player. Use every trick rather than just wave an offer sheet.

Because occasionally with offers being equal, it really is personal over money.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks