After sitting out of a Covid-shortened 2020 campaign, Marcus Stroman bet on himself and it paid off.
Stroman accepted a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to stick with the Mets for another season in order to build up his value.
And this plan ultimately worked out for the right-handed starter, who led the big-leagues with 33 starts in 2021 while producing a 3.02 ERA and 1.15 WHIP across 179 innings.
Now, Stroman set himself up for a substantial payday in free agency, and although the Mets intend on speaking with him about a new contract, they won't be alone.
Along with the Mets - the San Diego Padres, Chicago Cubs and Toronto Blue Jays are some of the other teams who have been linked to Stroman early on.
However, he will likely be in high-demand on the open market, and there will be a number of additional suitors as well.
Throughout eight seasons in the majors, Stroman has proven to be an above average No. 2 starter. He will also be one of the best pitchers available in free agency next to AL CY Young candidate Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman and 37-year-old Max Scherzer.
And he won't come cheap. The current belief around the league is Stroman will draw a 5-6 year deal worth $25 million annually at a "minimum," a source tells Inside the Mets.
So, while Mets team president Sandy Alderson made it clear they value Stroman and are looking forward to speaking with him this winter, he is going to get paid big money.
The Mets already have Jacob deGrom who is a question mark after missing the entire second-half of the season with a UCL sprain/partial tear in his right elbow. And given this factor, it would be a tough pill to swallow if they were to lose Stroman in their rotation.
The Mets are in need of some ace-insurance given the uncertainty of deGrom's health. And although Stroman isn't necessarily a No. 1 starter, it makes sense for New York to retain him due to his impact.
Stroman is a No. 2 starter who is going to get paid like a No. 1, but the soon-to-be 31-year-old [May 2022] is still more of a sure thing in the long-term as opposed to Ray, Gausman or Scherzer.
For that, the Mets should be aggressive in their attempt to re-sign him, despite the number of additional holes they have on their roster.
And following his final start of the regular season, Stroman addressed the possibility of sticking around with the Mets.
"I'm open, man. I'm open, I'm open to anything, you know what I mean? At this point in my career, I can't wait to finally be on a team where I know I'm going to be there for longer than a year," said Stroman.
If deGrom can stay healthy, he and Stroman would once again form a strong 1-2 punch in the rotation as they did in the first-half of the 2021 season.
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee he returns to the Mets given his price tag. Not to mention, he will be highly sought after by a number of teams since this year's free agent class features a thin starting pitching market.
"It's extremely gratifying, it took a thousand innings to get to this point, so I'm looking forward to free agency," Stroamn said. "However it might play out, I know that it's manifested and I'm just like playing out the story as it should be.
"There's no worries on my end and I know there will be a team or a few teams that want me, so I'm excited for the next few months."