According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the Blue Jays and Padres are “engaged in ongoing discussions” about a deal that would send pitcher Marcus Stroman to San Diego.
Of course, “engaged in ongoing discussions” is quite vague and Morosi is the king of creating smoke when there isn’t a fire, but these two teams are actually pretty good trade partners, so it’s worth diving into. AJ Cassavelli, a Padres beat reported for MLB.com, has also confirmed that the Padres have inquired about Stroman, though nothing is close to getting done at the moment.
Another key thing that Morosi mentioned in his post was that the Padres wouldn’t be sending Toronto back any of their Big Three prospects in Fernando Tatis Jr., MacKenzie Gore, or Francisco Meija. But the Padres have likely the best farm system in baseball as they had nine different prospects on Baseball America’s most recent Top 100 list. So even if Toronto didn’t get one of their three best players in return for Stroman, there are plenty of good players in San Diego’s system.
As Cassavelli mentioned in the Tweet I linked above, the Padres need starting pitching and the Jays want starting pitching in the minors. Stroman is under control for two more years and can hit free agency for the first time in his career after the 2020 season. It’s very difficult to imagine the Jays becoming contenders in that window before Stroman hits free agency, so dealing him for younger pitchers would be an attempt to push the clock back and load up for 2021 and beyond.
There’s also the thing about selling low on Stroman that we’ve talked about already this winter. Stroman is coming off a disappointing season in which he posted a 5.54 ERA while battling injuries and a blister. His peripherals were similar to that of his 2017 season in which he earned Cy Young votes, so it seems inevitable Stroman will rebound in 2019.
Would it be prudent for the Jays to sell low on Stroman now when he’s a good bounce back candidate? I mean, probably not, but there’s also some risk the other way. What if Stroman struggles with this blister again in 2019 and has another disappointing season? As we saw with Josh Donaldson last year, the Jays hung on too long and got virtually nothing in return for the former MVP. I’m not saying that’s going to happen in this situation, but you can see why the front office might pull the trigger if San Diego offered back a few prospects they liked.
But then again, this is sort of a boat and mystery box scenario. The prospect could be anything, even Marcus Stroman, but Marcus Stroman is already Marcus Stroman. If the payroll is actually going to go up when the team is ready to compete, couldn’t signing Stroman beyond his FA years be looked at as opening up the wallets to be competitive?
Also, I don’t think Stroman is excited about the idea of heading to San Diego…
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) December 22, 2018