If there’s no 2020 MLB season, the New York Mets may never get to see Marcus Stroman represent them in a game again.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, in the event of the 2020 season being canceled, players would receive service time equaling the amount they played during the 2019 season. Any player with an expiring contract would become a free agent in the winter, including Stroman.
Stroman, who was acquired at the trade deadline last July, was advertised by the Mets as the replacement for Zack Wheeler in 2020. They traded two of their top-ten prospects in Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson to acquire Stroman.
The expectation was that they would have a season and half of control over Stroman. However, if the 2020 season gets canceled, the Mets would have only gotten half a season out of him.
In hindsight, based on circumstances out of the Mets control, it makes the acquisition look a lot worse.
It is obviously not the Mets fault if the 2020 season gets canceled. Nobody could have planned for this or seen it coming. Nobody is blaming the Los Angeles Dodgers for acquiring Mookie Betts, who may not play one game for the team if the season doesn’t get played.
It is more a product of bad luck based on crazy circumstances. Nobody should blame the Mets for only getting half a season out of Stroman. However, if Stroman doesn’t pitch for the Mets in 2020 and becomes a free agent, in hindsight it would be an incredibly huge waste of assets for nothing.
To clarify, the front office did not waste their assets when they acquired Stroman last July. It is only now based on circumstances out of anyone’s control that it will become a waste. Giving up two high ranking prospects for just half a year of Stroman in a non-playoff season isn’t a good trade.
The Mets could avoid the trade becoming a waste if they decide to offer Stroman a contract next winter. Stroman made $12 million in his last year of arbitration this season, so when he hits the market he could be worth $20 million or more.
If the franchise was financially competent, you would think that re-signing Stroman would be a no-brainer. Only Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz can be counted on for a full season in 2021 with Noah Syndergaard recovering from Tommy John Surgery. The Mets will have to fill two, possibly three, rotation spots in 2021 with Stroman, Rick Porcello, and Michael Wacha becoming free agents.
New York will have to spend some money to replenish their pitching rotation in 2021. Considering the Mets did not feel comfortable giving Wheeler $23 million a season like the Philadelphia Phillies, it is fair to assume they wouldn’t want to give Stroman over $20 million a season either.
Knowing how the Mets operate, it is highly unlikely that they acquired Stroman to contribute to the team after the 2020 season. Stroman only costed prospects and his salary was relatively cheap in his last year of arbitration, so it is doubtful that the Mets have any intention of breaking the bank to keep him around after 2020.
If Stroman walks without the Mets offering him a contract or replacing him with someone better, it would end up being a huge waste of Kay and Woods Richardson. With a canceled 2020 season, Stroman does not become worth the price the Mets paid for him.
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Hopefully, the MLB is able to have some resemblance of a 2020 season, and Stroman contributes to the Mets this year, making this article unnecessary and the trade worth it. Until we find out the fate of the 2020 season, all we can do for now is speculate on the potential impact of the different outcomes.