The Mets are in dire need of starting pitching. Marcus Stroman is a starting pitcher.
For those reasons, the Mets extended Stroman a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer prior to the deadline, the team announced on Sunday. The widespread industry expectation is that Stroman will decline and enter free agency for the first time.
The decision makes sense for a team with only two starting pitchers — Jacob deGrom and David Peterson — penciled into the 2021 rotation. Additional in-house options include Seth Lugo and Steven Matz, but the former is unproven as a full-time starting option while the latter struggled throughout ’20.
“I should be one of the top arms,” Stroman said in July, after electing not to play the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. “I believe I’m one of the youngest. I’m extremely healthy. I’m coming off a great year. So however it plays out, I think it will play out.”
Even if the Mets include one or both of them in next year’s starting five, they will need to pursue multiple starters via free agency or trade this winter — including mid- or top-market options. Stroman rates as one of the most accomplished arms available, along with Trevor Bauer, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka and others. He would likely command more than $18.9 million annually as a free agent, which is why extending him a qualifying offer makes such sense from the Mets’ perspective.
If Stroman declines, the club will receive a compensatory 2021 Draft pick after Competitive Balance Round B. Stroman will have until Nov. 11 to make his decision on the qualifying offer.