Report: What Marcus Stroman, Javier Báez Could Draw In Free Agency

With the 2021 season winding down, Steve Cohen and the Mets have a number of tough decisions to make regarding a slew of talented pending free agents. Find out what these players might draw on the market this winter.
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NEW YORK- Beyond the president of baseball operations search, the Mets also have a number of upcoming decisions to make regarding a slew of talented pending free agents on their current roster.

First up, we have starting pitcher Marcus Stroman, who has been excellent in the Mets' rotation this year. 

After opting out of the 2020 season, Stroman accepted a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to stick around with the Mets and prove himself, before re-entering the market.

This decision has ultimately worked out for Stroman, as he has started the most games in baseball, 31, while posting a 2.88 ERA, which is the ninth best mark in MLB.

This stellar campaign has set Stroman up nicely for free agency, where the 30-year-old is likely to draw a contract of around six-years, $150 million, a source tells Inside the Mets.

As the source went onto note, the expectation is that Stroman will receive a deal that pays him $25 million annually at a "minimum."

With all the uncertainty surrounding Jacob deGrom's health, the Mets would be wise to retain Stroman on a long-term deal.

However, he won't come cheap, and his rocky relationship with the New York media could be one of the reasons he winds up leaving town.

Could Báez Stay?

Another hot topic of debate comes from the question of what Steve Cohen and the Mets plan on doing with Javier Báez.

Báez's time as a Met got off on the wrong foot with both his performance on the field, and his initial perception by the fans, after the thumbs-down drama.

However, since returning from a brief IL stint, Báez has become a game-changer for the Mets, producing strong numbers. In his last 23 games, Báez is batting .353 with a .682 slugging percentage and a 1.109 OPS. 

This torrid stretch has increased his value and candidacy to stick around with the Mets in the future, and he has certainly won over the fan base during this period of time.

Overall, in 34 games since getting traded to the Mets on July 30, Báez is slashing .306/.378/.587 with a .965 OPS, nine home runs and 18 RBIs.

Scouts and executives told SNY recently they project Báez to receive a $25 million AAV, from deals ranging between 5-6 years, $125-150 million, or eight-years, $200 million.

But one source told Inside the Mets, they still think that Báez's approach, although improved as of late, is a major risk to invest in long-term, as he is historically a free swinger who strikes out a ton. 

This individual believes the soon-to-be 29-year-old could receive a substantial one-year offer, before re-entering free agency again next season, especially with a saturated shortstop market this winter that includes: Corey Seager, Trevor Story, Carlos Correa and Marcus Semien. 

Time will tell on what Cohen and company decide to do. But Francisco Lindor could play a big role in Báez's retainment, given their close friendship. 

According to SNY, Lindor lobbied to Cohen for the Mets to trade for Báez in July. Lindor has also built a close relationship with Cohen during his time as a Met, and is said to have the owner's ear. This will likely play a big part in the Mets' decision to keep Báez as well.

But as one source cautioned, while $200 million for Báez might not look like much to dish out for the billionaire owner in Cohen, the Mets have a number of tough decisions to make with Noah Syndergaard, Michael Conforto, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Loup and Báez all set to hit the open market.

Báez is said to have previously turned down an $180 million extension offer from the Cubs prior to the 2020 season, per ESPN.

The other aspect of uncertainty this offseason lies within the looming CBA negotiations. Depending on what the new luxury tax might look like, could dictate whether Cohen and the Mets have enough wiggle room to bring back these impact players.

Cohen has also expressed his willingness to blow past the luxury tax if the opportunity came about, and regardless of what next year's number comes out to be, the Mets' owner might not have a choice if he wants his team to compete next season.