On the qualifying offer deadline date, right handed pitchers Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman both accepted the qualifying offer from their respective teams. The qualifying offer price this year, $18.9 million, was determined by the average salary of MLB’s top 125 paid players. The other four players to receive the qualifying offer this year: George Springer, J.T. Realmuto, Trevor Bauer, and DJ LeMahieu all rejected the offer meaning if they were to sign with a new team, their old team will receive a pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.
When the Mets acquired Stroman from the Blue Jays last July, they envisioned he would pitch the remainder of the 2019 season and full 2020 season with them before becoming eligible to reach the open market. However, Stroman opted out of the shortened 2020 season due to injury and concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2016-2019 with the Blue Jays and Mets, Stroman pitched to a solid 3.86 ERA, 3.80 FIP, 3.68 xFIP, and 3.97 SIERA across 691.2 innings with a 12.2 K-BB% while giving up 0.90 homers per nine innings. While Stroman has been able to put up solid numbers in the past, it should still be interesting to see if he can return to form after missing the entire 2020 season.
After pitching 472.2 innings from 2017-2019 for the Orioles, Braves, and Reds to a 4.61 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 4.21 xFIP, and 4.29 SIERA with a 14.1 K-BB% while giving up 1.33 homers per nine innings, the Giants signed Kevin Gausman to a one year deal worth $9 million (not prorated). This proved to be possibly the best value signing from last offseason as Gausman pitched to an outstanding 3.62 ERA, 3.09 FIP, 3.06 xFIP, and 3.24 SIERA across 59.2 innings with a 25.7 K-BB% while giving up 1.21 homers per nine innings for the Giants in 2020.
In my opinion, I think both Stroman and Gausman made good decisions by accepting the qualifying offer. For Stroman, I think this is a good “prove yourself” deal because I doubt any other team would offer him either a one or multi year deal worth anywhere near $18.9 million annually. If Stroman is able to prove he is still an effective pitcher in 2021, he is perfectly lined up to receive numerous multi year offers that annually pay him around 16-20 (or more) million dollars. As for Gausman, he just had a career best season coming off of a pretty average stretch from 2017-2019. This forced him into a very difficult decision as he reportedly had numerous multi year offers while also having the qualifying offer on the table. I highly doubt any team was offering Gausman anything more than $14 million annually which is why I think he made the right decision to accept the qualifying offer. Gausman’s 2020 peripherals were elite which leads me to believe that he will have another good-elite season in 2021. Like Storman, I also believe Gausman is perfectly lined up to receive numerous multi year offers that actually annually pay him around 17-23 million dollars (a little bit more than Stroman) if he is able to follow up his strong 2020 season with similar results in 2021.
For the Mets, I would give them a B+ for bringing back Stroman via the qualifying offer. As I mentioned earlier, I doubt any other team would offer Stroman either a one or multi year deal worth anywhere near $18.9 million annually which is the aspect I don’t like about the deal. On the contrary, the Mets were desperately in need of another starter behind Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard which Stroman perfectly fits into. It is also important to note that it was expected Stroman would actually decline the qualifying offer so the Mets theoretically had nothing to lose and only a draft pick to gain by offering him the qualifying offer in the first place.
For the Giants, I would give them an A for bringing back Gausman via the qualifying offer. Although the price tag is definitely high, I kind of view this as a low risk/high reward signing. If Gausman doesn’t meet expectations, the Giants can easily let him walk or sign him to a cheaper contract next offseason. On the other hand, if Gausman is able to replicate his 2020 success, the Giants can either utilize him as their ace if they are pushing for the postseason or they can look to deal him at the trade deadline for a decent return if it doesn’t appear they can make a postseason push.