There have been numerous reports about the Royals pursuing starting pitching this off-season, linking them to free agents like Lucas Giolito and Seth Lugo. Reporter Jon Heyman adds another name to the list of coveted pitchers for the Royals, tweeting that Marcus Stroman is on their radar.
Like to see the Royals looking at some of the better starters on the market. Lucas Giolito and Marcus Stroman appear to be on their radar, as are others.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 11, 2023
Stroman went to high school in the New York area and attended Duke where he became a first-round pick in the 2012 draft. Royals fans may remember Stroman from his days with the Blue Jays, where he started and won Game 3 of the 2015 American League Championship Series against Kansas City. He spent his first six seasons with the Jays before being traded to the Mets and joining the Cubs as a free agent in 2022. He opted out of the final year of three-year contract with them, passing up a $21 million salary for next year after going 10-9 with a 3.95 ERA and 3.58 FIP in 136 2⁄3 innings, good for 2.7 fWAR. He was named an All-Star after a terrific first half, but finished poorly, with an 8.29 ERA over his last 11 games, and he missed a month with a rib injury.
Stroman is a two-time All-Star with 77 career MLB wins and a 3.65 ERA in 1303 2⁄3 innings. He has never been a big strikeout pitcher, whiffing 20.7 percent of hitters last year. He relies primarily on a sinking fastball and a slurve to get one of the highest groundball rates in baseball, well over 50 percent. He has generally had average control, although he did have a spike in his walk rate last year up to 9 percent, up from 6.3 percent in 2022. He missed some time that season with shoulder inflammation.
The 32-year-old would not require any draft pick to be forfeited if the Royals were to sign him, as he already had Qualifying Offer compensation attached to him earlier in his career. It was a bit surprising he turned down $21 million considering his poor second half, but he could be looking for another multi-year deal while he is still relatively young. Stroman has been fairly reliable, but he stands just 5’7’’, and some have had concerns about pitchers of small stature holding up to the wear and tear of many seasons.
Stroman is probably looking for a three- of four-year deal worth around $16-20 million per-season. After Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery, he would be one of the top free agent pitchers available, along with Giolito and Japanese pitcher Shōta Imanaga.