Yankees’ Summer Savior? The Make-or-Break Move Marcus Stroman Must Master for Hope to Thrive

DUNEDIN, Fla. – At Yankees spring training, the latest cause for optimism was provided by Marcus Stroman, who zipped through four scoreless exhibition innings Friday afternoon.

“My body and my mind are in a great place right now,’’ Stroman said.

The coolest figure at TD Ballpark, a broiler in the midday sun, Stroman retired 12 of the 13 Toronto Blue Jays he faced, with one walk and two strikeouts.

“Just very grateful to be in this position. I feel honored that the Yankees called,’’ said Stroman, as the Blue Jays, his original team, scored a 2-1 Grapefruit League win.

Marcus Stroman’s priority on health

On the pitching side, much of the Yankees’ offseason has been punctuated by who isn’t here.

They whiffed on free agent Yoshinobu Yamamoto, despite a $300 million offer to the Japanese ace that was bested by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They haven’t gone all in for reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, who remains in free agency, and they watched the reigning AL East champion Baltimore Orioles trade for Corbin Burnes.

Back here at Camp Optimism, the Yankees could have themselves one of this winter’s best free- agent bargains in Stroman – all together now – if he stays healthy.

And that’s a big factor for a Yankees’ staff, fronted by ace Gerrit Cole, that is short on depth after Carlos Rodon, Stroman, Nestor Cortes and Clarke Schmidt.

“There’s definitely a priority on health,’’ Stroman said of his first Yankees camp. “Just build these innings, stay healthy throughout spring training and go into the year feeling good.’’

What the Yankees told Marcus Stroman from the start

In the days after pivoting from Yamamoto, the Yankees spent a guaranteed $37 million for two years on Stroman, a Long Islander who has longed to pitch in the Bronx.

The total deal can go to $55 million for three years if Stroman pitches at least 140 innings in 2025.

“To be able to play for the Yankees at this point in my career, it’s incredible, being from New York,’’ said Stroman, who has quickly impressed his new manager.

“The seriousness and the dedication he has to mind, body and spirit, taking care of himself,” Boone said, “the intensity in which he throws his bullpens’’ has struck the Yankees manager from the start.

In turn, Stroman has appreciated the Yankees’ commitment to not altering his style or routine.

“They want me to come in and truly be myself. It’s not like they’re trying to tell me to be anyone else,’’ said Stroman. “They’ve made that very apparent from the beginning.’’

Marcus Stroman’s quest for longevity

To become a free agent, Stroman opted out of the final year of his Chicago Cubs contract, which would have paid him $21 million in 2024.

Stroman seemed headed for a loftier payday, posting a 9-4 record with a 2.28 ERA over his first 16 starts of 2023, but a ribcage cartilage injury limited him to nine more starts.

“I’m looking to put a full year together this year,’’ said Stroman, who finished 2023 with a 3.95 ERA and “didn’t like ending up’’ where he did after an All-Star first half.

Stroman linked an increased workload heading into last year’s London Series as a point for him where things went south, but he was able to attack his offseason plan with the usual vigor.

“I’m right back in the gym the second the season is over,’’ said Stroman, training for the long haul ahead.

“I’m someone who takes pride in taking care of my mind and my body, and I’m hopefully going to be able to play this game forever.’’

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