Monday, August 10, 2020

Adios, Marcus Stroman

I got a notification on my phone about Marcus Stroman's decision to opt out on the 2020 season about halfway through a long hike in the woods with my dogs. My first thought upon reading it was, wow, we're screwed. My second thought, almost immediately afterward, was I hope Brodie doesn't do something stupid.

To be clear, I don't think the Stroman trade was a bad one. The Mets gave up a couple of good pitching prospects to get Stroman but, at the time of the trade, no one was expecting a pandemic to completely upend the 2020 baseball season. I wouldn't trade good prospects for a starting pitcher now, even if the pitcher was still under control for 2021, because we have no reason to expect with absolute certainty that 2021 is going to be a "normal" baseball season. Nor, for that matter, would it be wise to deal for a starter even for the stretch run of 2020, because there are no guarantees that this MLB season will survive long enough for there to be playoffs.

The organization has done a good job of getting some good prospects back into the system through the last couple of drafts and international signings. I'm not someone who is automatically against trading prospects, but I don't see a scenario where it would make sense trading anything of value this year.

Ideally under a new owner the Mets will do what big market teams like the Dodgers, Cubs, Red Sox and even the Yankees have done: build as deep of a farm system as possible in order to develop some young, cheap players for your own club and use others as trade pieces to fill needs. Right now the Mets have some prospects, but they're not all that deep. Squandering prospects to try to compete this year would be just plain dumb.

Stroman will undoubtedly take some heat for this move. He waited until he spent enough time on the Injured List to acquire enough service time to be a free agent. If he hadn't injured the calf he probably made enough starts to get the service time and then choose to opt out. I can't really hold it against him, really. Like any of us, he has a right to decide how much risk he's willing to take. He'll make money in free agency, but he's waking away from some money he would have made if he played.

As it is, Stroman will be the best free agent pitcher available this winter, and the Mets would have to be foolish not to consider signing him. This, of course, assumes that a new owner would be in place. On the other hand, I'm not sure what it might cost to sign him. He'll be the best pitcher on the market, and there will likely be competition for his services. While spending is likely to be down this year, the fact that there won't be a lot of starters available will have to factor in. I just haven't seem enough of Stroman to have a strong feeling what I might think he's worth. He didn't really impress me in the starts he made for the Mets last season, but it was only 11 starts.

The Mets have a lot of work to do on their starting pitching for next season. deGrom and Matz will be there, but everything else is up in the air. Realistically, David Peterson still has to prove he belongs in the big leagues. Even if he does, the Mets will need to fill two other slots and also have some depth pieces. The fact that the Wilpon-owned Mets did not have enough money to at least try to keep Zach Wheeler looms larger and larger. Provided Noah Syndergaard returns healthy at some point next season I would hope that a new Mets ownership would at least attempt to keep him past next season.

Okay, I'm out for today. Please stay safe, be well and take care.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos

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