Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman against the Diamondbacks on May...

Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman against the Diamondbacks on May 19, 2022. Credit: AP/Matt Marton

Two things can be simultaneously true: Whatever complaints Yankees fans might have expressed when the team agreed to a deal with Marcus Stroman on  Thursday night, it undoubtedly was a good move and a bargain in an inflated pitching market.

And it also was not nearly enough — and that’s not because of any deficiency on Stroman's part.

The Medford native is an above-average pitcher with a baffling six-pitch arsenal and an elite ground-ball rate. He’s also battled a slew of injuries, pitching just under 140 innings in each of the last two seasons.

After a terrific first half, injuries probably led to his second-half implosion in 2023. When healthy, he eats innings, has excellent control and is a bona fide gamer with a career 3.65 ERA. He even was mentioned in early Cy Young Award speculation after pitching to a sub-3 ERA in the first half of last season.

In an offseason in which Yoshinobu Yamamoto signed a record-setting contract for a starting pitcher despite never having played an MLB game, getting a 32-year-old of Stroman's caliber for two years and $37 million is an excellent money move for a rotation that needs the help. (If he hits 140 innings in 2025, Stroman will activate a third-year player option, according to; the deal is pending a physical.)

But there’s also that other part — the part you can’t ignore if you’re having a good-faith conversation about what he brings to a team.

If you like him, Stroman is an unconventional maverick who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, even if the consequences are unpleasant. If you don’t, you think he’s individualistic and “a distraction.” The truth probably is somewhere in the middle.

He opted out of the COVID season. He opted out of the All-Star Game last year. Heck, he opted out of his third year with the Cubs, even though he’ll make $2.5 million less with the Yankees in 2024.

But there’s also the admirable, such as his willingness to speak about the racism he encountered when playing with the Mets. He got death threats and spent years being peppered with racist slurs, he tweeted once, and given some of the replies he’d get on his posts back when I covered him on that team, there’s no doubt in my mind that what he says is true.

He is nuanced and difficult to categorize, and unpredictability makes some people nervous. But as we said — two things can be simultaneously true: Stroman may have erred in the past, but he also can grow from it, and as a hometown kid playing for the team he grew up rooting for, we should be pulling for that.

And there are signs that he's headed in that direction: He hasn’t tweeted since July, having abandoned getting into heated online arguments with fans and media alike, and deleted past posts in which he criticized the Yankees. If Stroman can bring his talent, his fire and his swagger to the Bronx while also continuing to mature, Brian Cashman could very well have pulled off the steal of the offseason.

Which brings us to the second part of all this: Even if everything works out, the Yankees' pitching situation remains incomplete. They need more starting help to protect themselves from a repeat of last year.

Reports in The Athletic say the Yankees balked at Blake Snell’s asking price and that Jordan Montgomery isn’t too keen on returning to the team that sent him packing for Harrison Bader. Trading for Dylan Cease or Corbin Burnes no doubt would require a king’s ransom.

But fans need to hope that Cashman is just playing a waiting game and seeing if prices come down, because if the Yankees are committed to going all in, they almost certainly need a better rotation.

Overall, their starting pitching was decidedly mediocre last year despite being headlined by Gerrit Cole, who won the AL Cy Young Award. Their other starters pitched to a 5.06 ERA.

Now consider who they have left behind Cole and Stroman: Carlos Rodon, Nestor Cortes and Clarke Schmidt — three guys who pitched a combined 286 2/3  innings with a 5.21 ERA last season (by comparison, Cole pitched 209 innings all on his own).

It’s even worse than it looks: Schmidt, a bullpen arm catapulted into a starting role, pitched 159 of those innings. Rodon and Cortes languished on the injured list. They also shipped off Michael King in the trade that brought Juan Soto to the Bronx, losing another viable starting option. Can Cortes and Rodon stay healthy? And pivotally, can Rodon reclaim the form that deserted him in 2023, when he pitched to a 6.85 ERA?

Those are too many variables, and ones that Stroman can't fix all on his own.

Despite the naysayers, it looks as if he is a good start. But there's plenty left to do.

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