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    Marcus Stroman accepting qualifying offer is loaded with omens for him, the Mets and MLB

    Welcome back to Good Stuff. Hug your favorite minor league affiliate before it’s stripped away.

    The Stro Show Must Go On

    Marcus Stroman decided against testing the market, a decision that would have been absolutely unthinkable had he repeated his stellar, All-Star worthy 2019.

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    Unfortunately, nobody got to repeat their 2019 without endangering their life. Stroman was no different. Not only did the 29-year-old exercise his COVID-19 opt-out of the 2020 baseball season while finishing up his rehab of a partially torn left calf, he was set to enter a free agency likely to be depressed as teams use the loss of revenue — fewer games, no fans — as justification for cutting costs.

    As such, Stroman’s choice to settle for the $18.6 million qualifying offer says plenty about the league, team, and player itself as a whole. Let’s break it down:

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    • The free agency market is bad. Stroman would have been no worse than the second best free agent pitching target this winter, behind 2020 NL Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer. He turns 30 in May, pitches deeper into ballgames than most starters (at least 184 innings in three of the last full, normal seasons) and posts elite groundball rates thanks to his top-tier sinker. Even if Stroman may have been able to secure more guaranteed money, the nine-digit deal players of his age and caliber often receive was likely off the table. Locking in a high salary and trying his luck next year without the draft pick loss attached to players that decline their QO was a rational choice.
    • The Cohen-era Mets are already flexing their muscle. Yeah, the team was still owned by the Wilpons, technically, when Stroman was given his QO, but the sale was already agreed on. In this market, the Mets could have saved a few bucks, but felt Stroman accepting a high salary for year was a more acceptable risk than not getting anything back if he chose to sign elsewhere. Instead of running away from paying good players good money, the team used the QO as it was intended: ensuring worthy players get paid while getting something in return if they take their talents elsewhere. Imagine that.
    • Stroman likes it here. More than that, he likes where the team is going. Stroman praised Cohen’s opening press conference, where the billionaire cleared the low hurdles like saying he planned to invest in the Mets like they played in the nation’s largest market and compete for titles, not “meaningful games in September.” He even affirmed the rights of his players to express their beliefs on issues that matter to them. Stroman shouted out the current coaching staff:

    Everything Stroman’s revealed about himself indicates there’s real potential to secure an extension with one of their best players at a position they’ll need serious help in in 2021 and the nearfuture. Good for the Mets that Stroman is a more than likely participant in the new regime’s plan to reach their ultimate goal.

    Sore Lu-ser

    Between his role in an organizational smear of a reporter harassed by his right hand man, or the other stuff, former Houston Astros GM Jeff Luhnow has left little to admire about his legacy. But baseball is an entertainment business, and the 2017 World Series champion has, if nothing else, delivered, this time by suing his former team for allegedly breaching his contract when they fired him after MLB announced his suspension. Luhnow said the league failed to meet just case for termination.

    Look, the man lost his career but at least he got jokes. The allegation is too absurd to take seriously. Jeff Luhnow was running a baseball operations department embroiled in arguably the worst on-field scandal in baseball history. Whether the cheating happened under his nose or directive, it happened. An “I accept full responsibility” would likely suffice if he wants another job in baseball — just look at AJ Hinch and Alex Cora.

    But, the suit is probably not about clearing his name but taking his old team and the league down with him. (Or forcing the league to pay a handsome settlement.) No one wants every bit of dirty laundry litigated, sifted through and testified about under oath. If for some reason the Astros (and by proxy, MLB) want to square up and fight Luhnow’s charge that Rob Manfred and Jim Crane conspired against him, grab your popcorn.

    Luhnow really is pushing the idea that the whole scandal is just a conspiracy against him and the Astros.

    On “The Edge,” a six-part podcast reexamining the Astros' rise and fall, the truant tried to play hall monitor when it came to the Boston Red Sox’s sign stealing. “They were caught twice,” Luhnow said, pointing to Boston’s 2017 use of smart watches. “They were caught in 2017 and they were caught again in 2018. That’s recidivism,” he said. “They pretty much let everybody else off the hook. It doesn’t pass the sniff test for me or a lot of baseball fans as well.”

    BIDEN-DEGROM 2021

    Only in America can dominating your opponent still end in a loss. Presidential candidates know this well: Five million more people voted for Joe Biden than Donald Trump, but only a series of narrow state-level victories secured his election. Blame the electoral college, a metric as representative of underlying strength as Jacob deGrom’s win-loss records.

    Last Tuesday evening, when the 2020 Gold Glove award announcement was rudely interrupted by America picking its next commander in chief, Biden and Trump appeared neck and neck. Had Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and others not swung in Biden’s favor, the 2020 race would have been the political equivalent of a seven-inning, 14-strikeout, 2-1 loss against the Rays. Neither was perfect contending with Florida; deGrom shouldn’t have missed his spot against Nate Lowe and Biden could have aggressively campaigned for the Latino vote in Miami. But even their respective underperformances get weighed down by a system that doesn’t describe and reward success.

    Like the electoral college, a relic of the American experiment’s first draft (and a mechanism for helping slave-heavy states maintain power), wins are an artificial assignment of value that only hold weight because we let it. That’s no shade to Trevor Bauer, a deserving NL Cy Young winner — his 5-4 record doesn’t do his tremendous run justice, either. They mean even less with shorter starts and bullpen-heavy pitching strategies that literally pull the final result of a game out of the modern ace’s hands.

    We don’t have to “kill the win” entirely, to borrow broadcaster Brian Kenny’s turn of phrase. Round numbers like 20 and 300 are entrenched in baseball’s storytelling and still hold value for plenty of players. Also, baseball card stats aren’t undermining democracy. But every fifth day in Queens, they lose a little luster. That’s a good thing.

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