Marcus Stroman's decision to accept a one-year/$18.9 million qualifying offer from the New York Mets last offseason proved to be a tremendous business decision.
In addition to making nearly $19 million during his age-30 season, Stroman put together an excellent campaign for the Mets. After opting out of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Stroman had one of the finest seasons of his career, posting a 3.02 ERA, 3.49 FIP and 3.4 fWAR across 179 innings.
Perhaps Stroman is more of a No. 3 on a contending team, but he's one who pretty consistently is going to give you at least 175 innings. And because he played on the qualifying offer in 2021, any team that signs Stroman this offseason won't have to surrender draft compensation.
Here are six potential landing spots for one of the league's best fielding pitchers:
Los Angeles Angels
Angels manager Joe Maddon was pretty blunt in his late-September assessment that the Angels needed arms "who are ready to win right now." Stroman alone doesn't solve their problems, but when paired with another veteran -- such as Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander -- he could help the Angels to avoid wasting another year of Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic has already reported that Stroman is among the pitchers that the Angels have interest in. That's why we've projected that Stroman will land a five-year/$105 million deal from the Angels this winter.
St. Louis Cardinals
If they aren't able to lure Max Scherzer back to his home state of Missouri, the Cardinals could consider Stroman as an option to bolster their rotation. Stroman would fit very well into a rotation that already includes Adam Wainwright, Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty. It's easy to envision him borrowing some stirrups from Wainwright.
While there's a lot to like about Lance McCullers Jr., Luis Garcia and Framber Valdez, the Astros could very well lose two future Hall of Famers this offseason in Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke. In a rotation thin on arms that have ever approached 200 innings in a season, Stroman could add some certainty for Dusty Baker.
Stroman told Gordon Wittenmeyer of NBC Sports Chicago in late September that he would be open to joining the Cubs, with Wittenmeyer adding that the team has kept tabs on him in the past. Spotrac estimates that the Cubs have more than $112 million of space under the luxury tax threshold, which could allow them to lure a top-tier free agent even if they probably aren't going to contend in 2022.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Both Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw are free agents, and it's unclear if Trevor Bauer will ever pitch for the Dodgers (or any major league team) again. If the Dodgers re-sign Scherzer and Kershaw, Stroman will probably go elsewhere. But if things don't fall exactly the way that Andrew Friedman and company draw them up this winter, Stroman could be a pretty good No. 3 or No. 4 in a starting rotation that will also include Julio Urías and Walker Buehler.
New York Mets
The Mets have a lot of moving parts this winter. At the time of publication, Noah Syndergaard has yet to make a decision on whether or not he'll accept the qualifying offer from the team. Michael Conforto, Javier Báez and Aaron Loup are among the team's other notable free agents. The Mets also don't have a general manager or manager currently. Without much of any certainty in Queens, we'll just say this, if the Mets want to catch the World Champion Atlanta Braves in the National League East, it would behoove them to find a way to keep Stroman around.