When the Yankees‘ offer to star lefty pitcher Blake Snell was shut down, they immediately pivoted to Marcus Stroman on the free agent market, who had expressed his desire to don the pinstripes. Snell wanted $270 million over nine years, averaging $30 million per year until his age 40 season.
Financial Prudence and Strategic Shift
There was no way general manager Brian Cashman was going to dish out that type of contract for a player over 30 years old and coming off his best season.
Snell is bound for regression, having only pitched over 130 innings twice in his career, one of which came in 2023, winning the NL Cy Young award. The law of averages would say he will never have a season like that again, especially since he’s at the backend of his prime.
However, the Yankees found it more serviceable and financially cautious to invest $37 million over two years for Marcus Stroman. The deal includes a 2026 vesting option and a player option for the 2025 season if he pitches 140 innings or more.
Stroman’s Appeal and Potential
Aaron Boone is excited about Stroman‘s impact, noting his consistency and quality as a veteran.
“I love the consistency of his career,” Boone said. “He’s been a performer. He’s been a really reliable starter in this league now, for a long time. And totally confident in his league and where he is — I think he’s, what, 31, 32 years old. He’s one of those guys that commits a lot to his craft and his body and taking care of himself, so I do think he’ll be a guy that remains in top form for a number of years.”
Before a hip injury impacted Stroman’s second half of the 2023 season, he had some of the best numbers in the game. Before the All-Star break, he tossed 112.2 innings, recording a 2.96 ERA, giving up just six homers with 98 strikeouts and a 1.11 WHIP. Post All-Star break, Stroman only tossed 24 innings and allowed an 8.63 ERA, showcasing a major regression in efficiency.
On the year, Stroman finished with a 3.95 ERA over 136.2 innings, including a 65.9% left-on-base rate and 57.1% ground ball rate. The Yankees will love his ability to generate weak contact and put the ball in the ground, which is perfect for Yankee Stadium.
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The Right Fit for the Yankees
As a veteran who has solid durability, having pitched more than 100 innings in seven consecutive seasons, the Yankees should be able to get solid value from the mid-rotation arm.
“And then on top of it, I really think he wants to be here with us — with the Yankees — and that counts for something, and that matters to me, and I think he’s cut out for this. I think this was the end game that he wanted. And I think, hopefully, he goes out there and goes to the post 30 times, 30-plus times for us. And if he does that, with what I believe our offense is going to be, he should be very successful.”
In addition, Stroman wanted to be a Yankee and desired the opportunity to pitch at the highest level with one of the most storied teams in sports. Pitching in the Bronx is no easy feat, though it comes with hostility and expectations. Stroman has the confidence to live up to those projections and go beyond, which is why Boone is excited to have him as a piece of the puzzle.