Twins Could Target the Other Free Agent Starting Pitcher
Image courtesy of © Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsThe former Blue Jays starter didn’t pitch in 2020, and he used some shrewd maneuvering to benefit himself for 2021. Despite a calf tear during Summer Camp, Stroman had ramped up nearly to the point of return for the New York Mets. Having accumulated just enough time to be eligible for free agency in the upcoming offseason, he opted out of the season citing a “collective family decision.” I’m not at all here to question his motives, but good on him for putting his own situation first in a sport that saw owners look to exploit the talent over and over prior to resumption.
On the field there’s plenty to unpack with Stroman. He’ll turn 30 in the year ahead and has made a single All-Star Game while generating Cy Young votes just once. He has compiled a career 3.76 ERA and 2019 was arguably his best season as a big leaguer. When healthy Stroman has been an innings eater, and while his career K/9 is just 7.4, he also doesn’t get bit by the long ball or free passes.
What Stroman brings to the table is a very consistent approach. He doesn’t own a big fastball, and the average velocity hovers around 94 mph. His whiff rates have always been right around 9% and he forces the opposition to chase just under one-third of the time. What you’re going to get is very few barreled balls and a ton of ground ball outs.
The book on Stroman has read virtually the same for the entirety of his career and it’s why the deal to the Mets made little sense a year ago. New York employed arguably the worst infield in baseball, and predictably Stroman was worse off. He went from a 2.96 ERA and 3.51 FIP with Toronto in 2019 to a 3.77 ERA and 4.15 FIP in the Big Apple. Making sure a pitcher like Marcus is backed by sure handed infielders is imperative.
Enter the Minnesota Twins and what 2020 saw them do. Josh Donaldson is a massive upgrade defensively at the hot corner, obviously he needs to remain available there. While Jorge Polanco struggled mightily at the plate, he performed adequately in the field. Luis Arraez was better at second base, and Miguel Sano looks entirely passable at first. In totality the Twins were 10th in baseball in defensive fWAR and 3rd when it came to infield outs above average. The entire aforementioned group will be back, and it’s one capable of supporting a ground ball heavy pitcher.
These aren’t the same Twins instructing arms to generate soft contact and allow batters to put the ball on the ground. That said, being able to do so at a high level as Stroman is, allows Wes Johnson an ability to pull more from the rest of his game. It’s hard to imagine a massive overhaul at age-30, but considering his prime, a velocity and strikeout boost even in a slight manner could have Stroman experiencing new heights.
2020 saw Stroman awarded a prorated portion of $12 million through arbitration. His 2019 deal checked in at $7.4 million. He’s going to want a long-term deal, and there’s no denying he’s going to get paid. I’d imagine he’ll be more affordable than Bauer however, and that could make the Twins a serious player for his services.
By all accounts it appears that Stroman has been a good clubhouse guy and someone you’d want to have on your team. He’s worn blue previously, knows the northern weather well, and could be Minnesota’s 2021 version of Kenta Maeda. I’m on board with this acquisition, and you’d be hard pressed to make an argument for their not being a fit.
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