The Cubs weren’t willing to engage Marcus Stroman and agent Brodie Van Wagenen in extension talks during the season, and the same will be true regarding free agency. Stroman was public this past summer about not being on the same page as the team, at which point he appeared certain to opt out on the strength of a potential Cy Young campaign. Then the wheels completely fell off as a series of injuries marred his second half.
Even with the implosion, Stroman should easily be able to command more than the one year and $21 million he’d have gotten from the Cubs. It helps that he previously received a qualifying offer, meaning the Cubs were not able to saddle him with one this winter. So even though that means they’ll get nothing in return once Stroman signs elsewhere, just having the open roster spot and additional payroll flexibility is a big win for Jed Hoyer.
I don’t think anyone really believed the Cubs would try to bring Stroman back, but Patrick Mooney wrote Saturday that they “appear to be heading in a different direction.” Picking up the $16.5 million option on Kyle Hendricks made that pretty obvious, as it would be pretty silly to run it back with a rotation that lacks velocity and whiffs in a bad way.
While rumors about Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto are going to dominate the news, the Cubs are also expected to swim in the deep end of the starting pitching pool. That could include conversations with Aaron Nola and Blake Snell, though they will probably prioritize 25-year-old Japanese ace Yosinobu Yamamoto. A trade for Tyler Glasnow is something we’ve discussed here as well.
Stroman is a No. 2 starter if he remains healthy and locked in, which he did not over the course of two years in Chicago. Injuries and illness limited him to under 139 innings in both seasons with the Cubs, over which time he posted a 16-16 record with a 3.73 ERA and 3.67 FIP. That’s very good considering the general play of the team, it’s just not close to elite.
This seems like one of those situations that could work out really well for everyone involved.