Blue Jays: Why Marcus Stroman should be traded now

ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07: Marcus Stroman
ARLINGTON, TX - APRIL 07: Marcus Stroman /

The Blue Jays have reported received offers for arcus Stroman.  They should listen – hard.

The Cubs and Braves (and possibly other teams) have apparently checked in with Toronto about the possibility of trading for Marcus Stroman.  In my view, Toronto should give these offers very serious consideration.

First, let’s talk context.  Stroman is a good-hinting-at-great pitcher.  His 2017 ERA of 3.09 was 9th among qualified starters, and his career xFIP of 3.47 (600 innings, 2014-2017) is 16th in baseball, just behind players like Bumgarner, Archer and Price.  And the scary thing is that he may not yet have peaked – he is said to have Roy Halladay‘s fastball, Johnny Cueto‘s four-seamer, and Jose Fernandez’s curve.

Then there is Marcus’ emotional makeup.  Some laud his passion for the game, and forgive his inflammatory comments as youthful indiscretion.  Others cringe at his questioning management decisions, criticizing teammates, and failing to accept criticism.  Personally, I am in the latter camp – but it does not matter.  I have no problem separating the man from the player, and I am of the school that believes that winning begets clubhouse chemistry, not the other way around.  I do not believe that Stroman’s demeanour is so extreme that it should be a major factor in a trade/keep decision.

And finally, there is the question of price.  Some writers believe that Stroman’s stock has fallen greatly with his poor 2018.  Others believe that 2018 does not represent Stro’s true talent level, and that teams would still be willing to pay an elite price.  From the Jays’ perspective, this is almost a non-issue – if nobody is willing to offer a price commensurate with Stroman’s past performance and current upside, then the Jays should keep him – at least until the 2018-19 offseason.

With all of that said, why do I believe that a 2018 trade would be justified?

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Timing mismatch

Stroman’s high self-confidence makes an extension under team-friendly (or even team-reasonable) terms unlikely.  It follows that the Jays are likely to lose him after his current contract expires at the end of the 2020 season.   The remainder of 2018 is likely a write-off for the Jays, and while some (myself included) are cautiously optimistic about 2019 , it is unlikely that the Jays will be serious World Series contenders in that year as well.  The Vladdy / Bo / Dan-Jan / Cavan era is likely to only begin in earnest in 2020 – which would be the last year of Stroman’s contract.

It is a principle of commerce that sometimes things are worth more to the other guy than they are to you.  The 2018 and 2019 years of Stroman’s contract are worth more to a contender than they would be to Toronto.

High risk

Quick trivia question: in the last 30 years, how many times has a MLB pitcher (starter or relief) 5’8″ or less pitched 100 innings in a year?  Answer – it has happened three times:  Stroman in 2014, Marcus in 2016 and Stro-Show in 2017.  Marcus is right that height does not measure heart, but it is equally true that we just do not know how an elite pitcher of his size will age.  And not knowing means risk, and risk means danger.

Team need

With the trade of J.A. Happ, and the pending loss of Marco Estrada to free agency, the Jays 2019 starting rotation is in flux.  Players like Sean Reid-Foley and Thomas Pannone are options, but a strong case could be made that the 2-3 close-to-MLB-ready pitching prospects that the Jays could get from a team like Atlanta for Stroman, would be of greater value than Stroman would be himself, particularly since 2019 is likely to be at least a partial rebuilding year.

The idea gets even more fun if you consider an expanded deal.  Stroman + Donaldson to Atlanta, with Toronto eating some of Josh’s salary, for some combination of Mike Soroka, Kyle Wright, Luiz Gohara, Ian Anderson, Touki Toussaint, Max Fried, Joey Wentz?  Or if you want to go in a completely different direction, how about Stroman + Josh + Alford/Pillar for Ronald Acuna? (okay, that might be a tough sell)

Next. Vlad Jr. promoted to Triple-A Buffalo. dark

The bottom line

Any discussion about trading Stroman should not be about his attitude or style.  It should be a completely businesslike comparison of the value he would bring to the Jays in the next 2.5 years as compared to the value of the players he would bring in return.  Given where the jays are, a trade – at the right price – would make a lot of sense.