In the name of asset management, there is a lot of speculation and predictions that the current management team are going to look at trading Marcus Stroman. That would be historically awful.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 30, 2019
It’s a historically common thing throughout baseball management. You trade away older players to acquire younger players that will coincide your timeline of where you want to be the most successful. The philosophy makes sense from a broad picture, but in this case with the current Blue Jays, it doesn’t add up.
The goal has been repeated and repeated again — be competitive by 2021. But trading away any of these assets, specifically Stroman, would put them farther back from that goal. No matter what, they’re losing track of their own objective.
Context is needed. Stroman is very good, perhaps even in the top echelon of starters in baseball currently. It’s been consistent throughout his career when he’s healthy. This year is especially proving that he can be dominant.
The third-best ERA in the majors among qualified starters, fifth-best FIP in the same category, and already securing 1.3 WAR in 37.1 innings pitched — just 0.1 less than what he had last year in just under triple the amount of innings. He was already third in WAR among all Blue Jays pitchers after being out for a significant portion of the year.
He’s one of the best starting arms in baseball and to simply trade him for younger players with ~potential~ would be something the team would surely regret.
There are always rare cases of it working out, but this is set-up for the Jays to fail in this hypothetical trade. Trading away a player like Stroman for younger pieces that you hope to be somewhere close to the talent level of Stroman in the future. A lot of things have to go perfectly in their favour to make it work.
No contending team would be trading away a top prospect for Stroman, it’s simple as that. Even with that top prospect, any impact that they could potentially have would be in the distant future. Would that be 2021? Depends on the player and what value they get back for the pitcher, but that is pretty damn unlikely.
Spouting hypothetical trade scenarios and destinations might be useless, but Mark Shapiro even knows himself what trading away a starter of Stroman’s calibre can do.
Cliff Lee and CC Sabathia are just some examples of starters that Shapiro traded away while in control of Cleveland. The Lee trade especially is quite similar to look at. He was traded at the 2009 trade deadline, just 1.5 years away from free agency, and brought back only one notable name in Carlos Carrasco for Cleveland.
Carrasco went on to be successful with his new team, accruing a total of 23.7 WAR so far in his career with Cleveland, but did not start being this quality of pitcher until the 2014 season, five years after the trade.
Post-trade, the then-30-year-old Lee went on to have a stellar career, gathering 28.9 WAR in the six remaining years of his career. Not that far off from Carrasco, but in the year immediately following the trade, Lee posted his best year yet. A 7.4 WAR season split between the Phillies and Mariners.
Where the Jays are right now, it would make more sense to try and get the better pitcher — a pitcher they’re familiar with — for the present and neat future.
If Vlad’s debut last week marked a new era for the Blue Jays, do they really not want to have their asset they get back in a hypothetical Stroman trade to contribute until he’s approaching free agency?
Since they made such a big deal about adding that one extra year of control, wouldn’t it make sense to maximize success in every single year you are guaranteed to have the top prospect?
Instead of hoping for a pitcher to start giving them value five years down the road like Carrasco, keep the pitcher you have that is giving you amazing value. Since they love value so damn much.
It wouldn’t be a discussion of the Blue Jays management — or baseball in the year of 2019 — without talking about control years. Stroman will be a free agent after next season, there’s no way of avoiding that. But with the recent run of extensions given to starting pitchers because of the state of free agency, it would seem that a team might have the upper-hand and can secure Stroman’s services for beyond his control years.
He just turned 28-years-old, he’s hitting free agency before he turns 30, isn’t that the range of age you would be alright with extending? While the likes of Blake Snell is just a year younger and getting extended until he’s 32-years-old at a very team-friendly price — it just makes sense when it comes to Stroman.
In such a precious position as starting pitching, you want certainty in what you’re going to get and the Jays have that in Stroman. There are no big-time top-level prospects down the pipeline that will be contributing to this team soon.
This is the hardest type of player to acquire and it’s the most important in modern baseball. With no future pitching in sight, keeping him around would not hurt at all.
No matter what happens in this roster-bation and dream world of asset management, it is clear that this management has an eye on the future and this pitcher might not be part of it.
What would come after that might be just a Stroman-sized hole in the rotation. But hey, at least they would have these mystery boxes that could turn into someone that resembles Stroman for a season or two.