After a sheerly dominant start to his 2023 campaign, Chicago Cubs ace Marcus Stroman has hit a wall in the past month. Through June, Stroman had a 2.63 ERA through his first 96 innings, giving up just 28 earned runs. In July, he recorded a 9.11 ERA, allowing 27 earned in just six starts. As time went on throughout the season, Stroman was beating the extension drum, with the Cubs seemingly showing no interest.
Of course, up until the time of writing, the morning of trade deadline day, the Cubs have opted to hold onto Stroman to this point. Other than that, if an extension wasn't on the table when he was putting up Cy Young caliber numbers, it certainly isn't now. In fact, if Stroman can't get it together as the season begins to wind to a close, he may play himself all the way down to having no other choice but pick up his player option with the Cubs for 2024 after all.
That's the last thing either party wants if Stroman is underperforming. Stroman is looking for another big payday this offseason with an extension off the table and wants to avoid finding himself on a prove-it player option for 2024. The Cubs can use the 21.0M in free agency elsewhere, allocating funds to either another starter or perhaps towards a deal for Cody Bellinger.
Not that it completely hinders the Cubs financially if Stroman is still around. If he has another fantastic start in 2024, his 21.0M salary could wind up being well spent. Looking at 2024, the Cubs only have a 155.6M luxury tax estimate as of now. That is before options are picked up or not, but the front office will certainly have wiggle room to further improve this team as it heads into the winter.