Chicago Cubs ace Marcus Stroman returned to the team's rotation last week, and is now slated to start Game 3 of a crucial series against the Atlanta Braves.
As well as getting him back in the rotation, Patrick Mooney of The Athletic (subscription required) reported that Stroman is probably going to return to the Cubs next season, writing, "Stroman’s public lobbying for a contract extension probably revealed some apprehension about how he would be viewed on the free-agent market, as well as an appreciation for his setup with the Cubs. It appears to be highly likely that Stroman will opt into his $21 million salary for next season."
Bob Nightengale of USA Today also reported, "Chicago Cubs starter Marcus Stroman, who was planning to opt out of the final year of his contract that will pay him $21 million next season, now is expecting to stay in Chicago without an extension."
MLB Rumors: Marcus Stroman planning to stay with Cubs in 2024
Stroman will be pitching on Thursday. This is a must-win game for the Cubs, who are hoping that they can clinch a postseason spot, holding a record of 82-74 and having a 59 percent chance of making the playoffs, according to FanGraphs, coming into the final week fo the regular season.
Many thought Stroman would be a competitor for the NL Cy Young in 2023. He indeed was to start the season, but now he has leveled off with a current ERA of 3.88 and a record of 10-8. He has suffered multiple injuries that have negatively affected him too.
After this season, the Cubs will have to make a decision on free agent Kyle Hendricks. Besides him, they currently have rotation options with Drew Smyly, Jameson Taillon, Justin Steele, and rookie Jordan Wicks.
That begs the question of if Chicago would be happier if Stroman were to opt-out of his 2024 option. $21 million for a pitcher hampered by injuries is a bit much, and perhaps they could better attack the free agent market.
It'll be a crucial offseason for the Cubs to take the next step going into 2024. But Stroman might make one big decision for him based on the latest intel about the possible free agent.