The Mets’ starting pitching staff got a big boost Wednesday with the return of right-hander Marcus Stroman, who accepted the team’s $18.9 million qualifying offer for 2021.
Stroman opted out of the abbreviated 2020 campaign out of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Mets had acquired him from the Toronto Blue Jays in July 2019, giving up two top pitching prospects in an effort to boost their rotation down the stretch.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the Long Island-native Stroman confirmed a report from Metsmerized, citing sources, that he had accepted the qualifying offer rather than test this year’s free agent market.
“Beyond excited to be back in Queens in 2021!” Stroman tweeted.
The news only buoyed much of the enthusiasm surrounding the Mets following Tuesday’s introductory press conference in which new team owner Steve Cohen expressed a desire to build the team into a perennial winner. Cohen had also indicated that he wanted to see the Mets win a world championship within the next three to five years.
It seems even Stroman was caught up in the euphoria. He tweeted his compliments to Cohen after confirming his return to the club.
“After watching the presser, I’m beyond excited to play for you, sir,” Stroman wrote. “I could feel the excitement and passion you’re going to bring daily. Let’s go be great!”
The re-addition of Stroman into the Mets rotation only figures to boost the Amazins’ chances to contend for a world title in 2021. In 11 starts down the stretch of the 2019 season, he proved to be a more-than-capable complement behind ace Jacob deGrom, going 4-2 with a 3.77 ERA, a 1.45 WHIP and 60 strikeouts in 59.2 innings pitched.
With Stroman back in the mix, the Mets rotation suddenly became much deeper. DeGrom, a finalist for his third-straight Cy Young Award, and Stroman provide the team with a reliable one-two punch at the top of the five-man set.
Then there’s the impending return of fireballer Noah Syndergaard, who missed the 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery. Syndergaard is expected back for Opening Day in 2021, and is entering the final year of his contract.
Rookie lefty David Peterson pitched exceptionally well in the short 2020 Mets season, and figures to be part of the back of the rotation. That leaves the Mets with one more slot to fill, and while additions via trade or free agency are possible, they do have options from within — particularly with Seth Lugo, who swung between bullpen and the rotation in 2020.
Stroman had been expected to be one of the top free agent starting pitchers this offseason, but there are doubts about how lucrative the free agent market would be given the losses teams suffered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mets team president Sandy Alderson said Tuesday that the front office hopes to take advantage of the down market in building the 2021 roster.