When Wednesday began, the Mets had two certainties in the 2021 starting rotation and were in serious need of reinforcements who could bolster a starting five that doomed their 2020 season. At around 11 a.m., that rotation got some big help.
Marcus Stroman, whom the Mets had extended the one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to, accepted the offer, meaning he will return to Queens for the 2021 season.
With Stroman on board, the Mets add a third reliable arm (to go along with Jacob deGrom and David Peterson) to a rotation that is still in need of more additions and get some clarity as the offseason starts to rev up with Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson now in place.
Here are the ripple effects of Stroman returning…
As noted above, the Mets now have three starting pitchers they should be able to rely on heading into the 2021 season — deGrom, Stroman, and Peterson.
Also as noted above, they’ll need to add more rotation help due to the lack of reliable in-house options. But having Stroman back should remove a huge weight off the shoulders of the front office as they look to address the situation behind the plate, in center field, and elsewhere.
When you add in Stroman’s $18.9 million salary, the Mets’ payroll for 2021 — when factoring in projected raises via arbitration — is roughly $153 million. That means they have roughly $57 million to spend this offseason before hitting the luxury tax threshold.
Cohen spoke Tuesday about not wanting to tie the payroll up for years with a bunch of high-priced players, and that goal is not hampered by Stroman returning since he will theoretically be off the books after this season.
Even with Stroman back, the Mets should be able to easily fit at least one “big splash” in the budget for 2021 and beyond.
SETH LUGO SHOULD NOW BE TICKETED FOR THE BULLPEN
Even before Stroman returned, it would’ve been wise for the Mets to slide Lugo back to the bullpen. Now that Stroman is in the fold, moving Lugo back to the ‘pen becomes even more of a no-brainer.
While Lugo has real upside as a starter, the results have been mediocre. Meanwhile, he’s been dominant as a reliever. He can now return there, strengthening that part of the team and making Alderson’s offseason agenda a bit smaller. They’ll still need some outside bullpen help, but Lugo being back there is a nice start.
DEGROM + STROMAN + BAUER?
SNY’s Andy Martino wrote Wednesday that with Stroman returning, the door is open for the Mets to feature deGrom, Stroman, and free agent Trevor Bauer at the top of their rotation.
Here’s what Alderson said on Tuesday about Bauer:
“I actually think Bauer would be a great personality in New York. The kind of guy that fans would endorse. We’re in the entertainment business.”
Here’s what Bauer’s agent, Rachel Luba, said about Alderson:
“Sandy Alderson gets it.”
OVERALL IMPACT ON THE MARKET
If Stroman — arguably the second-best free agent starting pitcher — is so wary of the market this offseason that he didn’t test it, what does that say about how much (in terms of both years and dollars) other big ticket players will wind up getting?
Cohen spoke Tuesday about wanting to take advantage of a unique market this offseason, and that Stroman accepted the QO without testing the waters could be a sign of things to come — and could be very good news for the Mets.