Stroman, Yankees finalize 2-year deal

January 17th, 2024

The Yankees on Wednesday announced their two-year deal with free-agent right-hander , which includes a conditional player option for 2026 and was first reported last week. The club did not announce terms, but a source told the contract guarantees Stroman $37 million and vests at $18 million for '26 if Stroman reaches 140 innings pitched in '25.

This is not the first time Stroman has been linked to the Yankees. In 2019, New York had interest in his services before the Trade Deadline. Stroman was with the Blue Jays at the time and had dreams of playing for the Bronx Bombers. Stroman is from Medford, N.Y., which is about 50 miles east of the Bronx.

"I'm from New York and I'm a New York boy. That kind of says everything for itself," Stroman said back then. "I love pitching [at Yankee Stadium]. New York is like the mecca of the world. I love excitement, the bright lights, competition, I love pressure. I always loved pitching here. I haven't necessarily pitched well. I always enjoyed it. Yankee lineups are brutal. They are kind of hard to navigate. I love the spotlight. The bigger the moment, that's what I kind of wanted it to be."

Stroman has been a consistently above-average starter for the bulk of his career since debuting with the Blue Jays in 2014. His ERA+ has been no worse than 113 in any of the past four seasons. He logged that 113 last season, which started out looking like a possible career year for the 32-year-old. He carried a 2.28 ERA and a .536 opponents’ OPS through his first 16 starts with the Cubs en route to making his second All-Star team.

However, Stroman’s 2023 campaign took a downturn in July as he allowed 27 earned runs across 26 2/3 innings during the month before landing on the injured list Aug. 2 with right hip inflammation. Stroman’s return to the mound was delayed by a right rib cartilage fracture and once he rejoined the Cubs on Sept. 15, he threw just eight innings over four relief appearances to close out the year. He ended with a 3.95 ERA, the second-highest mark of his career.

Those injuries also left Stroman’s innings total below 140 for the second straight season. In 2022, he missed a month due to right shoulder inflammation and was also sidelined for two-plus weeks due to a bout with COVID-19.

Prior to that, Stroman had been one of baseball’s more durable pitchers. He exceeded 180 innings three times in a four-season span between 2016-19. He surpassed 200 innings in ‘16 and ‘17 with the Blue Jays. The latter season saw him earn a Gold Glove Award and finish among the top 10 for the AL Cy Young.

After being selected to his first All-Star Game in 2019, Stroman was dealt from the Blue Jays to the Mets, for whom he played through '21. He missed all of '20 as he suffered a torn left calf muscle in the leadup to the shortened season and then opted out due to COVID-19 concerns in August.

Stroman, who commonly turns in below-average strikeout rates, has always leaned on his low-90s sinker to induce a lot of grounders and limit really damaging contact. His ground-ball rate was north of 60% in each of the first four years of his career and has never fallen below 50%. He finished 2023 at 57%, his best since 2018.

But as Stroman’s chase rate (26.8%) and zone rate (45.8%) fell significantly last season, his walk rate rose to a career-worst 9.0%. He ended the year with an 11.7% K-BB walk rate, which ranked 67th out of 87 pitchers who tossed at least 130 innings.