Just hours after turning in another ace-level performance for a Cubs team well outside of the playoff picture, Marcus Stroman himself has contributed to the growing rumors surrounding his future on the North Side.
Replying to a tweet that recapped Stroman's Cy Young-level start to 2023, the pitcher shed some light on how talks between him and the Cubs have proceeded during the first few months to the season.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Chicago sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Stroman continues to make it clear that he loves being in Chicago and could see himself with the team long-term, and if what Stroman says is correct, it is head-scratching as to why the Cubs would not explore options at locking down one of the game's premier pitchers.
While Stroman is likely to command one of the most significant hauls of this year's trade deadline if he is moved, the Cubs also stand to gain long-term value by pursuing an extension and selling off other trade chips, a strategy that could be amplified with the return of a healthy Cody Bellinger.
The Cubs ace just turned 32 last month, while holding a player option on his current contract for next year. As a potential free agent, Stroman appears to be a prime target for a three-to-four year deal that could net him over $100 million.
If the Cubs were to pursue an extension with Stroman while still selling otherwise, the North Siders would solidify a formidable 1-2 punch with southpaw Justin Steele to lead off the rotation, adding to existing multi-year commitments to Nico Hoerner, Ian Happ, Dansby Swanson and Seiya Suzuki.
Not only would maintaining Stroman give the Cubs much more certainty at the top of their rotation than they would get in any return for the ace, but it would also help strengthen the team's status as a free agent destination, as the long-term presence of a veteran in the rotation could pay dividends.
In a year where the Cubs have failed to take advantage of a poor division and excellent seasons from Stroman, Steele and Swanson, the front office finds themselves in a rare instance where holding on to the trade chip that would net the highest return may lead to a better long-term outcome.
When an elite pitcher who is facing an uncertain trade deadline and potential free agency expresses his desire to stay put, it is simply best to capitalize on the player's desire.