Marcus Stroman officially became a free agent on Wednesday along with 13 other Mets, but there are multiple avenues New York can explore that could lead to a Stroman reunion.
The most traditional, of course, is simply signing Stroman back.
The other is extending the one-year Qualifying Offer to Stroman and seeing if he takes it.
The specifics as it pertains to the Qualifying Offer:
Teams have until Nov. 2 to decide whether or not to extend it to eligible players
The Qualifying Offer amount for the 2021 season is expected to be roughly $18.9 million
If a player accepts the Qualifying Offer, he returns to that team for one year at that set amount
If a player rejects the Qualifying Offer, the team that extended the offer receives draft pick compensation
For the Mets, who have roughly $76 million to play with under the luxury tax payroll and multiple holes to fill in the starting rotation, making the Qualifying Offer to Stroman -- who opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns -- seems like a no-brainer.
In the event Stroman accepts it, the Mets will have easily filled one of those rotation holes while not having to extend a contract of more than one year.
Another option could be extending the offer and attempting to negotiate a multiyear extension with Stroman before the date where he has to accept or reject the QO.
To put this another way...
A team like the Mets that has financial flexibility and major rotation needs cannot afford not to make the QO to Stroman -- especially when you consider the rest of the free agent starting pitching options.
There is Trevor Bauer, who turns 30 years old before next Opening Day and will almost certainly be coming off winning the Cy Young and is the clear cream of the crop. But it could potentially take an astronomical amount on a per-year basis to land him.
Among those in the tier below Bauer are the 29-year-old Stroman and 32-year-old Masahiro Tanaka, whose time with the Yankees could be coming to an end with them expected to be preparing for a "budget" offseason, as SNY's Andy Martino has reported.
Ideally, the Mets will add two reliable pitchers to a group that arguably only has two guarantees at the moment -- Jacob deGrom and David Peterson.
Doing so while also addressing the situation at catcher, center field, and in the bullpen won't be easy, but the Mets have a strong hand to play with Stroman. And the clock is ticking.