Yankees Make Surprising Move, Sign Marcus Stroman as Starting Pitcher

New York City, NY – The Yankees have secured the services of starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, according to sources familiar with the matter. However, instead of pursuing top free-agent left-handers Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery, the team has reached an agreement with Stroman on a two-year deal worth $37 million, subject to a physical examination.

Stroman, a Long Island native, boasts a career 3.65 ERA over almost 1,400 innings. He will join a rotation that includes last season’s American League Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole, as well as left-handers Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes Jr., and right-hander Clarke Schmidt, both of whom had injury-shortened seasons.

The former Chicago Cubs pitcher impressed last season, leading the National League with a 2.28 ERA until June 20 and earning a spot on the All-Star team. Unfortunately, right hip inflammation sidelined him from August 2 to September 15, and his performance suffered as a result. Stroman’s final four appearances were all under three innings, and this was his second consecutive season with fewer than 140 innings pitched.

Despite these concerns, Stroman opted out of the final year of his three-year, $71 million deal, forgoing a guaranteed $21 million. He was ranked 11th on The Athletic’s top 40 Free Agent Big Board and was projected to receive a three-year, $63 million deal by Tim Britton. Moreover, the Yankees will not lose a draft pick or sacrifice international bonus pool space by signing Stroman, as the New York Mets couldn’t make a qualifying offer due to his prior acceptance of one in 2020.

Having previously spent four-plus seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays, Stroman would provide the Yankees with the starting pitcher they sought after losing out on Japanese free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for a lucrative 12-year, $325 million contract.

While both Snell, a former Tampa Bay Ray, and Montgomery, a former Yankee, had experience in the AL East, Stroman had the advantage of being represented by his former Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen of Roc Nation. As a result, his contract was expected to be more favorable compared to the two left-handers, both of whom are represented by Scott Boras.

There have been concerns about Snell’s performance in smaller markets, given that he has spent his entire career in Tampa Bay and San Diego. The same concerns might apply to Stroman, who has occasionally been known to speak out on social media. However, the Yankees were undoubtedly attracted to Stroman’s potential to anchor their rotation when healthy.

In an interesting twist, Stroman had expressed a desire to join the Yankees before his trade to the Mets in 2019, according to his father. However, at the time, Yankee GM Brian Cashman believed he would be better suited for their bullpen in the postseason. Additionally, in a now-deleted tweet in 2020, Stroman claimed that, aside from Cole and Luis Severino, there were no current Yankee pitchers who could match him over the next five-to-seven years.

With the addition of Stroman, the Yankees have likely completed their major offseason moves. Earlier, they bolstered their outfield through trades, acquiring Juan Soto, Trent Grisham, and Alex Verdugo.

The Yankees’ acquisition of Stroman adds a proven rotation leader, provided he remains injury-free. Stroman’s track record indicates he is capable of excelling at the top of a rotation. The two-year, $37 million deal represents the team’s solution in their search for a starting pitcher.