Despite all the focus on the more mid-starting pitchers this offseason, it’s actually not new that the Chicago Cubs would be associated with a particular guy closer to the top of the market. It was, after all, very early in the offseason that the Cubs were linked with Marcus Stroman, a pitcher they have been spotting for years, and one of the best free agents on the market.
But you know, when the signings actually start to happen, it feels a little different when the Cubs are mentioned in a group like this:
Sources say the Red Sox, Giants, Cubs, Mets and Angels are interested in free agent Marcus Stroman.
That’s not to say the Cubs are “finalists” for Stroman or anything approaching a finish line or anything like that. Showing interest along with at least four other teams is a pretty low bar to cross (we’ve already seen that several times with the Cubs and starting pitchers in the offseason). But it’s a good place to start when you have a clear need for a lot of start pitching, and I’m a fan of Stroman going forward. I like him as a decent bet to age well into his 30s, and his consistency / improvement in recent years gives him a reasonable floor of a mid-rotating arm, with some upturned to be a front two.
He’s also not associated with draft compensation, so you know the Cubs prefer to go that route.
The downside to Stroman is that he’s on the smaller side, is not a giant strikeout guy, and is not a big velo guy. He is more of a guy who surpasses the hitter, stays away from the barrel and chooses his seats. The Cubs have had great success with those types, but I understand that many are not crazy about the Cubs having to leave too many of them. Of course, in fairness to Stroman, he is among the best in baseball for the command / control / pitchability game.
Like I said before:
Stroman, an amazing athlete who could age well, has sent a 3.04 ERA over 179.0 innings for the Mets this year after sitting out during the pandemic season. He was just as good in 2019 and 2017, which slightly makes 2018 (5.54 ERA, but sub-4 FIP) look like a flukey blip. I want this guy in the Cubs’ rotation.
The guy has just been consistently good and mostly healthy. Every team should have him in their rotation. Bonus? He’s one of those obsessive pitch-craft guys who constantly messes with his pitches, his timing, his grip, etc., and tries to be as far ahead of the game as he can. It could not hurt to have such an established guy in the staff as you raise more young arms.
If the kids go up to pursue Stroman, it will mean they are willing to get into the four or five year range of the right free agent, which will also strongly suggest that they are not making fun when they says they want to at least try to compete for a playoff spot in 2022. You are not using the best years of a free agent to sign on for a season you plan to play.
Let’s see where it goes, if anywhere. There are some bidding teams that are mentioned with the Cubs and I admit I’m not convinced they will go to nine digits on any free agents right now, even a guy who fills an obvious need so good as Stroman.