Posted on July 28, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
One of the top starting pitchers on the trade market is heading to a non-contender. On Sunday, the New York Mets pulled off a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, acquiring starter Marcus Stroman. In exchange, the Blue Jays will receive pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson, who are ranked no. 4 and no. 6, respectively, in New York’s farm system, according to MLB.com.
For the Mets, the trade appears to be a pre-cursor to trading away Noah Syndergaard. Recent reports indicate the Mets are shopping Syndergaard to help replenish their farm system. Meanwhile, acquiring Stroman will help them replace Syndergaard in their rotation for the rest of this season, as well as next season.
In theory, Syndergaard is the more valuable trade chip. He’s younger than Stroman and is under team control for two more seasons whereas Stroman will be a free agent after the 2020 season. The Mets are expecting to get more back in a trade for Syndergaard than they are giving up to get Stroman. Of course, whether that happens, remains to be seen.
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Stroman has been the unquestioned ace of Toronto’s rotation this year. After a rough 2018 season that was plagued by shoulder trouble, he has bounced back in a big way. Through 21 starts, Stroman is just 6-11 but has a 2.96 ERA. He made the All-Star Team for the first time this season and owns a 3.76 career ERA. Stroman will immediately become the no. 2 starter in New York’s rotation, creating a formidable 1-2 punch atop the rotation with reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom.
On paper, the Mets have improved their team in the short-term. Syndergaard has been inconsistent this year, going 7-5 with a 4.33 ERA, so Stroman is an upgrade if Syndergaard does indeed end up getting traded. Of course, the Mets are five games under .500 and not exactly in the playoff picture. However, the Mets are hoping to set themselves up for a run in 2020 with deGrom and Stroman at the top of their rotation.
As for the Blue Jays, they had little use for Stroman. Despite a plethora of young, high-end talent making their big league debuts this season, Toronto is unlikely to be serious contenders in 2020. As a result, Stroman is most valuable to them as a trade chip. They’ve used him to add two pitching prospects who could prove useful when they are ready to compete again.
Kay is the more advanced of the two pitchers going to the Blue Jays. The southpaw has struggled since his promotion to triple-A last month, posting a 6.61 ERA in seven starts. But he has the stuff to at least be a mid-rotation starter and should be major league ready at some point in 2020.
Meanwhile, Woods-Richardson was the 48th overall pick in the 2018 draft. The 18-year-old is already in full-season A-ball a little over a year after being drafted out of high school. He has a modest 4.25 ERA in the minors this season. But his strikeout rate and WHIP are both impressive, especially considering his age. He has the highest ceiling of anyone in New York’s farm system, even if he’s a few years away from the majors.
In short, the Blue Jays got a good haul for Stroman. Both Kay and Woods-Richardson could end up making a positive impact for Toronto down the line. For the Mets, this trade is a little risky. It’s likely too late for Stroman to make a difference this season. Essentially, they gave up two quality pitching prospects for one season of Stroman. To be fair, judging this deal is contingent on what the Mets do with Syndergaard. However, first-year GM Brodie Van Wagenen has made a bold decision that has the potential to backfire.