5. Marcus Stroman (Age 30)
In 2021, Marcus Stroman (New York Mets) pitched 179 innings and earned a 3.02 ERA, a 133 ERA+, a 3.49 FIP, a 21.7 percent whiff rate, and a low six percent walk rate (2.2 walks per nine innings). While he doesn’t blow batters away, he is crafty and skilled at getting them to chase balls outside the strike zone. He also limits home runs and induces ground balls.
Stroman is adept at burning up innings when he pitches. This past season, he threw at least five full innings in 29 of his 33 starts. Only Philadelphia Phillies ace Zack Wheeler and Los Angeles Dodgers studs Walker Buehler and Julio Urías exceeded that number in the NL. Stroman is arguably at the peak of his career.
Stroman accepted a qualifying offer in 2020. He is therefore ineligible to receive one this offseason for next year, and will have no draft-pick compensation attached to his signing by another club. This makes him an even more attractive free agent acquisition.
4. Kevin Gausman (Age 31)
Like Stroman, Kevin Gausman (San Francisco Giants) previously accepted a qualifying offer and is ineligible to receive one this year. The Giants extended an $18.9 million qualifying offer to him last offseason, which surprised many analysts.
Obviously, the team knew what it was doing because Gausman had an excellent pitching record in 2021. He had a 2.81 ERA, a 3.00 FIP, a 145 ERA+, and a 1.04 WHIP in 192 innings. In addition, he had a 10.6 K/9 and a 2.3 BB/9 in 33 starts. The Giants are likely to pull out all the stops to retain him.
Similar to Stroman, Gausman played last year after accepting the Giants’ qualifying offer. Thus, he has no draft-pick compensation attached to his acquisition. This is value added and will help make him a much sought-after free agent during this offseason.