We all knew Marcus Stroman was going to be traded, but this isn’t exactly how we expected it to go down. The Jays pulled the trigger on a deal with, out of left field, the Mets, a few days prior to the trade deadline, resulting in some pretty mixed reviews on the return. There’s a lot being said about this very confusing deal and I’ll do my best to synthesize the interesting and important information.
First and foremost, there’s Marcus Stroman’s reaction to the trade, which wasn’t overly shocking. There was reportedly a loud commotion in the clubhouse between Stroman and Blue Jays coaches and executives after the ace found out he had been dealt to the Mets.
It seems that Stroman’s frustration had to do with being traded to the Mets rather than to a contending team, like his hometown Yankees, which had been his rumoured destination for weeks. Stroman’s father even chimed in to admit he was a little disappointed with the result…
“He was kind of psyched, maybe hoping to go there. I’m not going to tell you that he wasn’t,” the elder Stroman said. “If he was to leave Toronto at all. Don’t forget, Marcus loved Toronto, his heart was there. The brass didn’t kind of appreciate him as much as the fans did. The whole country took to him and they took to me.”
After the dust settled, Stroman brushed off the situation, suggesting that it was just a heat-of-the-moment thing…
“To be honest with you, no frustration,” he said. “Nothing but positive times there. I can’t tell you all the lifelong friendships and relationships I’ve developed here. The moments that we’ve had here … Just being grateful for them all, to be honest with you.
“The frustration? It’s something that happened in an instant and was gone in an instant,” he added. “That’s not something that’s being held onto at all. I’ve been a Toronto Blue Jay for the last seven years. I wanted to be a Toronto Blue Jay for a long time. I understand the business side.”
Rosie DiManno didn’t buy Stroman’s insinuation that he wasn’t angry with the trade or that there wasn’t any animosity between him and his now-former club. DiManno did a bit of an analysis of Stroman’s reaction to this situation and other reactions he’s had to things in the past.
“No frustration,” Stroman continued. “Nothing but positive times, man. I’ll do nothing but look back on these times and just be grateful for them all, to be honest with you.”
Then immediately contradicted himself. “The frustration is something that happens in an instant and it’s kind of gone in an instant.”
Repeated attempts draw out what Stroman meant about disliking how some of his matters were handled by the brass and went nowhere. “I’ve addressed this question multiple times.”
Well, no you didn’t, not specifics.
Anyways, that’s enough on the altercation. Also discussed in the Ben Nicholson-Smith article linked earlier is Ross Atkins’ on the organization’s effort to come to terms with Stroman on an extension. I don’t think anyone really believed that the team had any serious designs of locking Stroman up long-term, and Atkins’ comments basically confirm that.
Atkins said he spoke directly with Stroman on occasion, “always very, very brief” chats. More often he’d connect with Stroman’s agent, Brodie Scoffield. Those conversations took place weekly in recent months and at least once per month over the last year, according to Atkins. Even in those exploratory talks, it became clear that the Blue Jays didn’t value Stroman the way his representatives did.
“You start to understand the parameters and desires of both sides,” Atkins said. “We felt as though there wasn’t a reason to continue because of the gap.”
In regards to the trade, the immediate reaction from fans on social media was confusion. Blue Jays fans were confused the team pulled the trigger on the trade more than 48 hours prior to the trade deadline and Mets fans were shocked their team, well out of playoff contention and clearly in seller mode, decided to buy. Not to make a massive blanket statement, but it seemed both fanbases were pissed off about the trade.
The sentiment I’m noticing from Mets fans can be summed up from this comment, I figure…
I actually don’t mind losing these guys, if the Mets were one pitcher away from the Playoffs.
Still, while Mets fans were confused a team with a 50-55 record and a handful of players on expiring deals made this acquisition, some have claimed the trade was a stroke of genius for a front office that, uh, doesn’t often get that kind of praise. I mean, it’s Bob Nightengale, but still…
Sure, maybe one of [the prospects sent to Toronto] turns out to be a front-line pitcher in the major leagues and a perennial All-Star. Maybe they live up to their hype after being top draft picks. Then again, maybe neither ever have an impact and they’re shipped out to other teams in the next few years.
In a study by Baseball America, just 20.1% of the prospects traded at the July 31 deadline since 2003 ever played at least two years in the major leagues and had a positive career Wins Above Replacement.
Yet, these days, most teams are terrified of trading prospects and the scrutiny it brings. They don’t want to take the gamble. They’re afraid of trading future All-Star Gleyber Torres to the New York Yankees even though Aroldis Chapman brought a World Series to the Chicago Cubs. And yes, Cubs president Theo Epstein would do it again in a heartbeat.
Really, when you think about it, the move is a stroke of genius.
Andy Martino reported on Twitter that rival executives are angry with the Blue Jays for the return they got in the Stroman trade…
Other teams selling pitchers are very annoyed at the Blue Jays return for Stroman, which one rival called “dogs*it.” If that’s all it took to get Stroman, fear is the price goes down for other pitchers unde control
— Andy Martino (@martinonyc) July 30, 2019
Apparently, Toronto’s return for Stroman, who sports a top-five ERA in baseball, was much too low and it’s subsequently driving down the market for teams looking to deal starting pitchers. This is confusing to me because the Mets are supposed to be one of those teams looking to sell a pitcher. Despite getting Stroman, all signs indicate the Mets will still deal one of or both of Noah Syndergaard and Zack Wheeler, so are they cannibalizing their own players’ value with this deal? I’m not sure this is anything more than posturing from teams (the Yankees) in a looking-to-buy-starting-pitching kind of situation.
While some have claimed this supposed buy-low of Stroman is genius for the Mets, many still question what exactly it is they’re doing. Jay Jaffe of FanGraphs had plenty to say about the deal…
In all, this looks to be a solid but unspectacular haul for the Blue Jays, who have gotten a pair of 45 Future Value prospects for an All-Star with one-plus year of club control remaining. There are no sure things with pitching prospects, and the Mets, whose farm system currently ranks 24th on THE BOARD, (which reflects the loss of Kay and Woods-Richardson) weren’t exactly waist-deep in them. Both rate as high risk, though with higher risk comes the potential for higher reward.
As for the Mets, it’s difficult to evaluate this move in a vacuum, since we don’t know which way they’ll go with Syndergaard, Wheeler, and the rest of their deadline plans. That Stroman’s strengths don’t align with those of the Mets — as currently constituted, at least — in terms of the quality of their defense does rate as a concern, as does the possibility that they’re in the midst of misreading the current landscape.
That seems to be selling Simeon Woods Richardson a little short.
Eno Sarris on the Fan: "I'd heard if the 2018 draft were redone today, Woods Richardson would go in the top 10."
— BVH (@BVHJays) July 29, 2019
Patrick Brennan at Beyond the Box Score also went into some detail about how excellent Woods Richardson’s season in Single-A has been considering his age…
The only pitcher that can really hold a comparison to Woods Richardson’s 2019 season from an age and performance standpoint is 2008 Madison Bumgarner (2.06 FIP in 141 2⁄3 innings). It took Bumgarner one year after that to log innings in Double-A and another year two years to mold himself into one of the game’s best pitchers. Obviously, those standards are completely unfair to hold to Woods Richardson, but with a similar polish to Bumgarner, a fastball that tops in the mid-90s, and an early track-record of strong numbers, it wouldn’t be unreasobale to think that Woods Richardson could have that same ascendance up the minor league ladder and the prospect ranks.
Eno Saris also offered an explanation in The Athletic for why Stroman’s value on the trade market might not have been as high as we expected it to be…
The market right now values fastball velocity and strikeout rate, and so Stroman is not the prize of the market, with his 37th-best velo and 56th-best strikeout rate among 74 qualified starters. The potential corresponding move to this trade for the Mets — trading Syndergaard, or so the rumors go — would sell the best velocity in the big leagues and the 31st-best strikeout rate. The Mets could think they are besting the market.
I don’t know. There’s a lot to take in. It’s a puzzling trade and there’s a lot of information coming out from every angle because of the ramifications this deal has for the market as a whole. All we can do at this point is to wait and see. We’ll see how these two pitchers perform in the Blue Jays’ system and we’ll see how other teams fare in trades when dealing their top starting pitcher.