Marcus Stroman is among the highest profile starting pitchers on the free agent market this offseason, but he’ll enter that market without throwing a single pitch in 2020.
Multiple reports have just confirmed that he’s opting out of the season citing COVID-19 concerns among his family:
BREAKING: Marcus Stroman has elected not to play the rest of the 2020 season.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) August 10, 2020
#Mets starter Marcus Stroman on opt out: 'There's just too many uncertainties, too many unknowns right now to go out there, and truly just put the health for my family and myself first and foremost.''
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) August 10, 2020
Stroman, 29, was working his way back from a strained calf, which is now 100% healthy according to Stroman, himself. Indeed, this decision had apparently nothing to do with that injury at all – he called it a “collective family decision,” due to the large number of uncertainties and unknowns. Given the direction of the outbreaks in Miami and St. Louis, it’s tough to blame him (of course, we support any and all players decision to opt-out, regardless of the reason).
Of course, there is another important consideration here.
Ignore the first-half of this tweet about the trade, and consider the implication of the second half:
So for 11 starts in total of Stroman, #Mets gave up Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson. While on the IL this year, Stroman exceeded six years of service, which allows him to be a free agent after the season.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) August 10, 2020
By staying on the Injured List until now, Stroman was able to ensure that he’d reach free agency this winter, even without throwing a pitch. If, by contrast, he had opted out before the year began (throwing the exact same number of pitches as he has this season … 0), he would have not accrued any service time and thus would’ve been under Mets control for another year (presuming he wasn’t one of the “high risk” players, for whom I believe there are special clauses for this exact situation).
I’m not saying that’s particularly nefarious, but it certainly works to the significant disadvantage of the Mets, who will finish this season without Stroman or Noah Syndergaard (TJS).
The Mets are currently 7-9, in third place of the NL East. The Cubs will not play them this year, unless both teams meet in the postseason.