Is Marcus Stroman an option for Padres in 2022?

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Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report by CBS Sports, the San Diego Padres are reportedly interested in pursuing Marcus Stroman to bolster a rotation that fell apart in the second half of the 2021 season.

Stroman pitched the most innings for a Mets team that was also underwhelming in 2021. The pitcher recorded an ERA of 3.02 and a WHIP of 1.145 in the 2021 campaign. The right-handed pitcher will be a free agent this offseason. While he may not be the biggest prize in the pitching market, like Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, and Kevin Gausman, who are all hitting free agency, he’d make the Padres rotation better. 

Stroman’s numbers are very similar to Joe Musgrove, who excelled for the Padres this season.

Both Musgrove and Stroman are within half a point in ERA, WHIP, and FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching). He’d make a good rotation better, which is what Musgrove was brought in to do, but he’s not the kind of pitcher that will substantially move the needle for the Padres’ pitching staff. Musgrove was unable to do that in 2021. While Darvish and Snell struggled, Musgrove could not find a way to drag the Padres to the postseason. If Stroman found himself as the number two or three starter, he’d be a great addition, but he is not the ace of the future in San Diego.

Stroman made $18.9 million in 2021 and will command around that much on the open market. The Padres are committed to paying players $162,447,618 for the 2022 season, so signing Stroman would be tough. The team will need to free up some salary. 

Stroman’s a ground ball pitcher, as 57.1% of his batted balls end up on the ground, compared to the MLB average of 43.8%. He did drop his ground ball rate significantly in 2021, as it fell to just 49.5%. His fly balls jumped to a career-high 20% in 2021, so his pitching style may be shifting. Stroman made 33 starts in 2021, the fourth time in his last five seasons he made at least 32 starts. The Padres had 15 different players start at least one game, and only Musgrove and Yu Darvish made more than 30 starts. Only Joe Musgrove did not miss a turn in the Padres’ rotation, and so the addition of a consistent presence like Stroman would help a Padres’ bullpen that picked up extra innings as starting pitchers missed time.

The Padres rotation would get competitive next season if they acquired Stroman, as Musgrove, Darvish, Blake Snell, Chris Paddack are all returning. Mike Clevinger and MacKenzie Gore will find themselves in contention with Stroman for the five-man rotation as well. Stroman, Musgrove, Darvish, Clevinger, and Snell would be the expected five-man rotation, although anything can happen, especially with Darvish’s struggles and the continuation of Clevinger’s recovery from his Tommy John surgery. 

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Marcus Stroman would make the Padres better, but with the limited available salary and the crowded rotation, it will be a difficult choice for general manager A.J. Preller to make. Preller needs to make sure he makes this offseason count, as his recent additions have struggled. 

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