In a strategic move to bolster their pitching roster, the Kansas City Royals have set their sights on acquiring top-tier talent this off-season, with recent reports indicating their interest in several high-profile free agents.
Among them, Marcus Stroman, a seasoned Major League Baseball pitcher, has emerged as a key target for the Royals, adding to the list of potential acquisitions that already includes Lucas Giolito and Seth Lugo, as noted by respected baseball journalist Jon Heyman.
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's Stellar Journey
Stroman, a New York native and Duke University alum, first gained significant attention as a first-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.
He has a unique connection with Royals fans, having notably clinched a victory for the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 3 of the 2015 American League Championship Series against Kansas City. His impressive six-season tenure with the Blue Jays was followed by a stint with the New York Mets and, most recently, the Chicago Cubs, where he signed as a free agent in 2022.
Despite a substantial offer of a $21 million salary for the upcoming year, Stroman opted out of the final year of his three-year contract with the Cubs. This decision came after a season where he achieved a 3.95 ERA and 3.58 FIP over 136 2/3 innings, contributing to a 2.7 fWAR.
His performance peaked in the first half of the season, earning him an All-Star title, although it was marred by a rib injury and a less impressive second half, culminating in an 8.29 ERA over his last 11 games. With a career comprising 77 MLB wins and a 3.65 ERA over 1303 2/3 innings, Stroman is known for his distinctive pitching style.
Rather than relying on strikeouts – he had a 20.7 percent strikeout rate last year – he uses a combination of a sinking fastball and a slurve, consistently maintaining one of the highest groundball rates in the league.
While his control has been generally average, a noticeable increase in his walk rate to 9 percent last year, up from 6.3 percent in 2022, was observed, alongside a period sidelined due to shoulder inflammation. At 32, Stroman, who stands at 5’7”, has sparked discussions about the durability of smaller-statured pitchers in the league.
His decision to turn down a lucrative deal with the Cubs suggests he might be seeking a longer-term contract, aiming for a three- or four-year deal valued at approximately $16-20 million annually. This would place him among the most sought-after free agent pitchers this season, alongside the likes of Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, Jordan Montgomery, Lucas Giolito, and Shōta Imanaga.
The potential acquisition of Stroman by the Royals would not necessitate any draft pick forfeiture, given his previous association with Qualifying Offer compensation earlier in his career. His track record of reliability and his unique pitching strategy make him an intriguing option for the Royals as they aim to enhance their pitching depth and competitiveness in the upcoming season.