Long Island native Marcus Stroman is coming back to Queens for 2021.
After not pitching last season, he announced on Twitter on Wednesday that he accepted the Mets’ qualifying offer for one year and $18.9 million, helping to answer one of the significant rotation questions the club is facing this offseason.
"Beyond excited to be back in Queens in 2021!" he wrote.
He added in a subsequent tweet, meant for new Mets owner Steve Cohen: "After watching the presser, I’m beyond excited to play for you sir. I could feel the excitement and passion you’re going to bring daily. Let’s go be great!"
Cohen tweeted back: "Marcus, that is great news. Looking forward to meeting you soon. I will call you over the next few days to thank you."
Marcus , That is great news . Looking forward to meeting you soon.I will call you over the next few days to thank you .— Steven Cohen (@StevenACohen2) November 11, 2020
The rotation for now looks like this: Jacob deGrom, Stroman and David Peterson. The Mets also have Seth Lugo — who team president Sandy Alderson said Tuesday probably didn’t get a long-enough tryout as a starter down the stretch in 2020 — as an option and Noah Syndergaard due back at some point. He had Tommy John surgery in March and isn’t expected to be ready for Opening Day. Steven Matz also remains under team control.
Starter and reliever depth are among the areas the Mets need to strengthen this offseason. Stroman staying gives the Mets another top-ish-of-the-rotation arm.
"Our pitching staff is thin, our depth at Double-A and Triple-A is thin or thinner, the bullpen has been inconsistent," Alderson said Tuesday.
Stroman, a 29-year-old former Patchogue-Medford star, was one of the best starters on the free-agent market behind Trevor Bauer and likely would have received a larger and longer contract had 2020 unfolded in a more normal way.
But because the coronavirus pandemic meant fans were not allowed to attend games in person this year, teams are looking to cut costs everywhere, including on major league personnel. Had he declined the qualifying offer, a team signing him also would have lost a 2021 draft pick (and the Mets would have received an extra).
This way, Stroman can aim for a full and good season in 2021 and try free agency again next offseason, when teams might be more willing to spend. He will be heading into his age-31 season in 2022.
Stroman has a 3.76 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in seven seasons, including a couple of months with the Mets: 11 starts, 3.77 ERA, 1.48 WHIP after a July 2019 trade from the Blue Jays.
He did not pitch in 2020. He missed the first couple of weeks with a calf injury and then, after accruing enough service time to become a free agent, opted out of the rest of the season, citing coronavirus concerns.