Marcus Stroman has enacted the opt-out clause in his contract and can now grow to be a free agent, the New York Submit’s Jon Heyman reports. Stroman’s three-year, $71M cope with the Cubs from the 2021-22 offseason allowed Stroman to choose out of the ultimate yr of that contract, and the right-hander shall be leaving $21M on the desk in search of a bigger and extra profitable deal this winter.
Stroman confronted one of many extra attention-grabbing choice selections of any participant in the marketplace, as his 2023 marketing campaign was a story of two seasons. Within the first half, Stroman had a 2.96 ERA over 112 2/3 innings and acquired an All-Star nod for his efforts. Within the second half, Stroman had an 8.63 ERA over solely 24 innings, as he missed about six weeks on the injured listing. Initially sidelined with hip irritation, Stroman was revealed to have a right rib cartilage fracture, which delayed his IL stint past what appeared like a reasonably minimal 15-day absence. Whereas the righty was in a position to make it again for the Cubs’ late-season playoff push, Stroman was restricted to bullpen obligation and shortened begins, as Chicago ended up lacking the postseason.
Altogether, Stroman delivered a 3.95 ERA over 136 2/3 innings, together with his typical excellent (57.1%) grounder fee and a below-average (20.7%) strikeout fee. Good management has additionally been a part of Stroman’s repertoire, however his 9% stroll fee in 2023 was each the very best of his profession and solely within the fortieth percentile of all pitchers. It’s honest to say that Stroman’s accidents contributed to his struggles over the season’s final three months, although it additionally marks his second straight yr with a notable damage absence. Between shoulder irritation and a quick stint on the COVID-related IL, Stroman threw solely 138 2/3 innings in 2022, barely above his 2023 whole.
Whereas not the perfect platform into free company for a pitcher getting into his age-33 season, Stroman and his reps at Roc Nation Sports activities ought to definitely be capable to discover a multi-year pact on the open market, price nicely above the $21M Stroman would’ve acquired from the Cubs. Stroman’s groundball-heavy method might not fairly match the popular mould for some entrance places of work, but it’s arduous to argue with outcomes, as Stroman has posted typically good outcomes over his 9 MLB seasons. At his finest, Stroman has appeared like a front-of-the-rotation star, with two All-Star nods on his resume and a seventh-place end in AL Cy Younger Award voting when he was a member of the Blue Jays in 2017.
Stroman will head into free company with out having to fret a couple of qualifying supply, as Stroman beforehand acquired (and accepted) a QO from the Mets following the 2020 season. The dearth of draft compensation hooked up to his companies might give Stroman a leg up on different starters in the marketplace, and it additionally signifies that the Cubs gained’t obtain something in return ought to Stroman signal with one other crew.
The Cubs reportedly had some extent of extension talks with Stroman this previous spring, although the right-hander’s comments in June indicated that these negotiations have been minimal at finest. “Up till now, there’s been nothing from their aspect. No affords, no talks, actually, in any respect,” Stroman mentioned. Although Stroman made it clear that he wished to remain in Chicago, the dearth of contract discussions apparently lasted by way of the summer season, because it appeared for a lot of the season that the Cubs have been leaning in direction of buying and selling Stroman on the deadline. Nevertheless, Stroman’s second-half struggles and the Cubs’ personal enchancment and surge into the playoff race modified these plans, even when the irony was that Stroman wasn’t in a position to contribute a lot to the pennant race.
As lately as two weeks in the past, The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney wrote that Stroman and Kyle Hendricks have been “anticipated” to return to Wrigleyville in 2024, with Stroman passing on his opt-out and the Cubs exercising Hendricks’ $16M membership choice. There hasn’t but been phrase on Hendricks’ choice, although the 2 sides are reportedly discussing a contract extension which may overwrite the choice solely. Speculatively, this example would possibly’ve impacted Stroman’s alternative, if he felt the Cubs have been prioritizing Hendricks of their long-term plans, Stroman would possibly’ve determined to hunt out a longer-term cope with one other crew now, reasonably than spend one remaining yr in Chicago. Stroman would possibly’ve confronted extra commerce buzz if the Cubs weren’t in competition, or one other injury-marred season would possibly’ve extra totally hampered his free-agent case within the 2024-25 offseason.
A reunion between Stroman and the Cubs in all probability shouldn’t be solely dominated out, although Chicago has different pitching choices. Assuming Hendricks stays in some capability, the rotation traces up as Justin Steele, Hendricks and Jameson Taillon as the highest three starters, and Javier Assad, Hayden Wesneski, and Jordan Wickscompeting for the final two spots. Drew Smyly is also concerned if he doesn’t choose out of the ultimate yr (and $11M) of his contract. It stands to purpose that the Cubs will look to enhance this group with a minimum of one veteran arm, whether or not Stroman or one other free agent or commerce chip.