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Morning Mound Visit: Marcus Stroman manipulates his own service time

Hey, it’s just business.

New York Mets Summer Workouts Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Marcus Stroman opted out of the 2020 season on Monday. Stroman, who had been dealing with a calf injury, was set to make his season debut on Friday against the Marlins. Because Stroman passed six years of service time while on the IL, he will become a free agent at the end of the season.

No player should be criticized for opting out. Players are undertaking a major health risk for themselves and their families by stepping onto the field. Most players who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been asymptomatic or have experienced mild symptoms, but not everyone is so lucky. Eduardo Rodríguez will miss the season due to heart complications brought upon by the coronavirus. Freddie Freeman was so sick he prayed for his life.

While Stroman’s decision is disappointing for the Mets who traded Simeon Woods-Richardson and Anthony Kay for what will ultimately be 11 starts from him, Stroman shouldn’t feel at all bad about gaming his service time.

Teams do this sort of thing to players all the time. Jo Adell, Nate Pearson, and Nick Madrigal were brought up after they wouldn’t qualify for a year of service time, and their teams couldn’t even use the excuse that they needed to work on their defense. There’s no minor league season, and playing intersquad games can’t be better for development than playing against big league/quad-A talent.

When asked about his own service time manipulation, Nate Pearson said he tried not to let it bother him. “It’s a business move,” he said.

Stroman doesn’t have to justify why he opted out (he, and every other player who has decided not to play, emphatically can justify the decision), but even if he couldn’t, could he really be blamed for trying to maximize his earnings? It’s just business, right?

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