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Why the Dodgers should go after Marcus Stroman

New York Mets v Chicago Cubs Photo by Matt Dirksen/Getty Images

The Dodgers’ need for starting pitching has been very apparent this offseason.

The team met earlier this week with free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto and yesterday finalized a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for a deal surrounding starter Tyler Glasnow. Moves for these players address the needs for strengthening the front end of the rotation, but leaves many questions for what the back end of the rotation will look like.

If there is any free agent to supplement the back end, Marcus Stroman looks to be a great candidate to firmly upgrade the rotation.

Here are a few reasons for why the Dodgers should look at signing Stroman.

Low risk, high reward

The Dodgers took a gamble on a reclamation project by signing Noah Syndergaard to a one year deal for $13 million. Although the deal seemingly blew up in the Dodgers’ face, they have had recent success over the past few seasons by signing free agents to a one year deal, such as Tyler Anderson and Andrew Heaney prior to the 2022 season.

There hasn’t been too many speculations about where Stroman will land next season, with the only team showing interest so far this offseason being the Kansas City Royals, a team that is still in the midst of a prolonged rebuilding process.

Stroman will be entering his age 33 season, and doesn’t appear to be a target to bolster the front of the rotation with where his current market stands. Even though he is getting older, he posted a respectable 113 ERA+ in 2023 with the Chicago Cubs while being named an All Star for the second time in his career.

The Dodgers can certainly continue to spend big in free agency with the way that Shohei Ohtani’s contract is structured, but they won’t necessarily have to go all in to bring in a starter like Stroman.

Keeps the ball on the ground

Out of all the teams that made the postseason in the National League in 2023, the Dodgers allowed the most home runs in the regular season, giving up an even 200 round trippers. The one thing the Dodgers need out of any arm they currently have is to limit the rate they allow fly balls. Enter Marcus Stroman.

Stroman has primarily relied on getting hitters to hit the ball on the ground throughout his big league career, and has a career 56.7 percent ground ball rate. His 57.1 percent ground ball rate ranked within the 94th percentile in 2023. This has led to Stroman averaging a fly ball rate of 21.9 percent and a home run per nine innings of just 0.59— his best mark since his rookie season— as he allowed just nine home runs all season in 2023.

Stroman would be an excellent fit for a team that last year posted the worst ground ball rate for any team (38 percent) and the highest fly ball rate for any team (41.3 percent, no other team surpassed 40 percent).

Much needed veteran arm

Even after the Dodgers acquired Glasnow yesterday, the rotation is still relatively youthful, with second-year arms Bobby Miller and Emmet Sheehan projected to fill the no. 3 and 5 spots. Adding an arm like Stroman would give the Dodgers a starter that is approaching 10 years of service time that has played for other big market teams, such as the New York Mets.

In addition to his experience, Stroman does have a small sample size of postseason appearances, pitching in October with the Blue Jays in 2015 and 2016. Although the results haven’t been too great— 1-1 record, 4.40 ERA in 30 13 innings— he and the newly acquired Glasnow could help mentor the young arms for handling the added pressures of the postseason, with Miller and Sheehan allowing a combined six earned runs in the 2023 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The Dodgers’ current projected rotation is already an upgrade over the 2023 rotation, however, the back end needs to get a facelift if the Dodgers want to win in the postseason. Adding an arm like Marcus Stroman would give the Dodgers a pitcher who can limit fly balls and won’t break the bank when he eventually signs this offseason.