On the verge of his return from a torn calf muscle, New York Mets starter Marcus Stroman announced on Monday that he has opted out for the remainder of the 2020 season because of COVID-19 concerns.
“It ended up being a collective family decision for me. Something that’s been weighing on me daily,” he said. “A bunch of things factored in and ultimately we decided as a family that it probably wasn’t best to continue moving forward with this year.”
“There’s too many uncertainties, too many unknowns to go out there.”
That includes the recent outbreaks amongst the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins, who lost sizable chunks of their 60-game season after the virus swept through their clubhouse.
“It’s hard to see people not taking the proper protocols all the time,” he mentioned.
The 29-year-old made it clear that it had nothing to do with his calf and that he felt 100% ready to go shortly after throwing 85 pitches in a simulated game.
“I haven’t competed in over a year and I was truly looking forward to coming back… I was truly ramping up,” Stroman said. “This was just something that I had to take a step out of myself for a second and listen to the perspective of my family.”
“I have family members that have compromised immune systems — my grandpa, my uncle, my mom.”
Without throwing a single pitch in the 2020 season, Stroman is now poised to become a free agent this winter, presenting the possibility of his Mets career lasting just 11 starts after he was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays last July.
That didn’t stop him from speaking so highly about the organization while leaving the door open for a return to Queens.
“It was a blessing, a breath of fresh air when I came to this organization and I truly mean that,” Stroman said. “I truly enjoyed showing up to work every day. I would love to be a part of what they have going on, there’s a lot that goes into that but I can’t say enough good things about this organization.”
His opt-out leaves the Mets with the harsh realization that they won’t get a pitch from two of their top-three starters in Stroman and Noah Syndergaard this season. With Michael Wacha also on the injured list because of shoulder inflammation, the Mets are left with four healthy starters.
“Right now, we’ll take inventory. We’ll work with the pitching coaches and sit down,” Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said while mentioning Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as possible starters to step up. “We were living and surviving without Marcus… we’ll miss him. What this team has shown already and I’m confident moving forward is that they’ll have the next man standing and they’ll keep fighting.”
Van Wagenen also referenced the work of rookie starter David Peterson — who has provided some much-needed stability for the lower end of the Mets rotation after his call up — while ultimately backing up Stroman’s decision.
“Marcus meant a lot to this team and he has a bright future going forward, but David Peterson stepped up in his absence… and we’ll continue to lean on his talents,” he said. “This is about Marcus and making sure that we’re supporting him and his family.”