Marcus Stroman making strong case for Chicago Cubs payday

Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs
Texas Rangers v Chicago Cubs / Jamie Sabau/GettyImages

Chicago Cubs pitcher Marcus Stroman is off to a terrific start to his 2023 season as he followed his six shutout innings pitched against the Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day with another electric performance against the Texas Rangers on Friday afternoon.

Stroman tossed another six shutout innings in his start against the Rangers while fanning 6 batters. Stroman has now pitched 12 shutout innings on the season while striking out a total of 14.

While all the focus has been on Ian Happ being a free agent at the end of the season, Marcus Stroman can not be overlooked. Stoman signed a three-year deal worth $71MM ahead of 2022 but he does have the ability to opt-out after this season. For Stroman, the Cubs' starting pitcher will need to weigh whether he can make more than the $23.7MM that he is set to earn in 2024 if he does not opt out of his deal with the team.

The decision would appear to be an easy one. Since the second half of the 2022 season, Stroman has been among the best-starting pitchers in the National League. For all the talk about the Cubs not having a true top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher, Stroman is proving those naysayers wrong. Given how the free agent market has trended, Stroman would seem destined to clear the $23.7MM-AAV easily if he were to hit the open market.

For the Cubs, making sure that Stroman is a part of the long-term plan should be a priority. The Cubs have significant questions marks in their starting rotation after this season as it would seem likely that the team will not exercise Kyle Hendrick's team option for the 2024 season and expecting Drew Smyly to find the same luck moving forward that he had in 2022 would seem to be a stretch.

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While the Cubs have several pitching prospects that could be making their way to the rotation in the coming seasons, the team should want another veteran leader to pair with Jameson Taillon among the starting five. Stroman has embraced his role as the ace of this Cubs' rotation and the team should be willing to pay him accordingly.