Cubs News

Reports: Marcus Stroman opts out of final year with Cubs, hits free agency

9 months agoAndy Martinez

A day after receiving some expected news on the opt-out front, there was an opt-out with a little more surprise on Saturday morning.

Marcus Stroman opted out of the final year of his contract and is set to become a free agent, per reports.

Stroman, 32, signed a 3-year, $71 million contract with an opt-out after two years, ahead of the 2022 season. He pitched as advertised in his two seasons in Chicago, posting a 3.73 ERA in 50 starts.

He was hampered by injury in his time with the Cubs — in 2022 a shoulder injury and a bout with COVID-19 limited him to just 25 starts and 138.2 innings. This past season, Stroman dealt with right hip inflammation and then a rib cartilage fracture that made him miss a month of action.

Those injuries put a damper on what had been a terrific start to his 2023 campaign. Through his first 16 starts, Stroman had a 2.28 ERA, a .191 batting average against and a complete game. He was the Cubs’ ace and looked to be a candidate to start the NL All-Star game. At that time, it looked clearly like he would hit the open market.

Things began to unravel when he started the Cubs’ finale in London against the Cardinals. He allowed 6 runs — 3 earned — in 3.1 innings that day and from that point, pitched to an 8.29 ERA in 11 games (9 starts).

He rejoined the Cubs in September as they were on a playoff push, pitching out of the bullpen and making two more starts. That end to the season put some questions on whether he’d opt out, but now there are no questions.

“He struggled in July, and then obviously was hurt for August, and I give him a lot of credit for working hard and trying to come back, but he never quite got back to where it was,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said at his end-of-season press conference. “I think that’s the only way to look at his season. He was really crucial for us in the first half, but then, obviously, we certainly could have used him in the second half, but he was injured and unable to help us.”

How the Cubs fill the rotation spot will be interesting to follow this offseason. They have plenty of in-house rotation options — Justin Steele, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Wicks and Javier Assad are some options — and a few other option decisions — Kyle Hendricks has a club option and Drew Smyly has a player option, both of which are expected to be picked up — that can fill out the rotation.

The Cubs still could work out a deal to bring back Stroman in free agency, so his return with the Cubs isn’t totally out of the quesiton. Or the team could choose to add another proven veteran to their rotation mix. There are plenty of intriguing names hitting the market this offseason, including Japanese phenom Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who the Cubs have scouted in person in Japan. Yamamoto helped the Orix Buffaloes force a Game 7 by striking out 14 in a complete game, 5-1 win in the Japan Series.

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