Cubs could pursue Marcus Stroman this winter in free agency

Marcus Stroman (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Marcus Stroman (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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Recent 2020 opt-out Marcus Stroman might just be a Cubs offseason target.

If you’re a New York Mets fan, the name Marcus Stroman probably leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The right-hander was on the IL through the first third of the 2020 season, accruing enough service time to hit free agency at year’s end, then opting out of the rest of the campaign. With only a handful of high-quality starters in this winter’s free agent class, Stroman will undoubtedly have numerous suitors – potentially including the Cubs.

Chicago, of course, will lose three of its five starters at year’s end in free-agents-to-be Jon Lester, Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana. Of course, Theo Epstein might bring one or multiple of these guys back, but you can’t count on anything on that front.

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If the Cubs choose to go in a different direction, they’ll undoubtedly kick the tires on a guy like Stroman who doesn’t turn 30 until next May. The right-hander is coming off a season split between New York and Toronto, where he put up a 3.22 ERA/3.72 FIP in 184 1/3 innings of work.

He doesn’t seem to quite be held in the same regard as he once was, despite his relative youth. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who finished eighth in AL Cy Young voting back in 2017 as a 26-year-old and was once believed to be a long-term fixture atop the Blue Jays rotation.

Last year, Stroman ranked in the top six percent of the league, allowing just a 4.1 percent barrel rate. He’s a guy who relies heavily on his sinker, complimenting it mostly with a slider and cutter. When that sinker is working, it can be near-unhittable – and it’s definitely his bread-and-butter.

The Cubs return a pair of hurlers in Kyle Hendricks and Yu Darvish – two pitchers with wildly contrasting styles. Hendricks is remiscient of Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, who made a living of spotting pitches and working corners without much to speak of in terms of velocity. Meanwhile, Darvish throws the kitchen sink at opposing hitters, mixing in a staggering 11 pitches into his arsenal.

Slotting in Stroman behind that duo would give the Cubs’ one of the top trios in the game as far as starting pitchers go. As far as what it might take to lock down the All-Star hurler, it’s hard to say. Normally, I’d venture a ballpark estimate based on his original $12 million 2020 salary – but we have no idea what the league’s financials will look like this winter. There are just too many factors at play here.

In a ‘normal’ year, I’m guessing Stroman gets somewhere in the $15-20 million range annually – but I’m sure years will be the big hurdle for a lot of teams. A guy who’s heading into his age-30 season probably isn’t looking to test the waters again in his mid-30s, so he might be looking for a longer-term contract. Again this is pure speculation, but it’s at least based in logic.

Next. We could see rumors connecting the Cubs to these guys. dark

It seems like the offseason is a long ways away. I mean, we’re not even halfway through the 60-game regular season yet. But with the Cubs’ window closing, it’s worth starting to think about what the next era of baseball on the North Side might look like – and Stroman could be a big part of it.