Stroman accepts qualifying offer from Mets

November 11th, 2020

NEW YORK -- The Mets have one less rotation hole to fill.

Rather than test free agency, as he seemed committed to doing earlier this year, on Wednesday accepted the Mets’ one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to return to Queens. The move gives the Mets a bona fide starter to slot in their rotation behind two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom.

Stroman could have rejected the Mets’ offer in search of a multi-year deal on the open market, which has historically been kind to starting pitchers of his ability. But current market conditions offered no guarantees, with many teams facing the challenges of lost revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By accepting the qualifying offer, Stroman can attempt to bolster his stock with a strong season before hitting free agency for the first time next winter.

Stroman immediately becomes the third-highest-paid player on the Mets’ 2021 payroll behind deGrom and second baseman Robinson Canó. Despite the expense, his return eases worries for a rotation that previously consisted only of deGrom and David Peterson. Beyond those two, the organization’s top in-house candidates are Seth Lugo and Steven Matz.

Even with Stroman back, the Mets are likely to pursue additional starters after losing Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha to free agency. Top options include Trevor Bauer, Masahiro Tanaka, Corey Kluber, Kevin Gausman, James Paxton and more.

Stroman’s return offers the Mets some peace of mind throughout their pursuit. A Long Island native, Stroman, 29, came to the Mets in a trade with the Blue Jays at the 2019 Deadline. Initially, he struggled with his new team, going 1-2 with a 5.05 ERA over his first seven starts. But he rebounded to finish 3-0 with a 1.88 mark over his last four outings.

That gave the Mets optimism that Stroman would be a key piece for them in 2020, until he tore his left calf muscle during Summer Camp. As he neared the end of his rehab in late July, Stroman announced that he would skip the remainder of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. When he did, Stroman indicated that he would likely test free agency, saying he “should be one of the top arms.”

Overall, Stroman is 51-47 with a 3.76 ERA in six seasons with the Blue Jays and Mets. He made his first All-Star team in 2019.