Blue Jays: What Might A Jays/Yankees Stroman Trade Look Like?

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays and Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees talk on the field before a game at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 19: Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays and Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees talk on the field before a game at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The New York Yankees are rumoured to be interested in Marcus Stroman, here is what a trade might look like?

MLB Trade Rumours identified 22 (!) teams who might be interested in a Marcus Stroman trade in their recent article.  One of those teams was the Yankees, for whom Stroman could be both an upgrade in 2019 and a replacement for C.C. Sabathia in 2020.

Since then, Domingo German has gone down with a hip flexor, creating an even greater current need.  The Yanks are accordingly said to be looking strongly at Stroman – and at Ken Giles.

Assuming for a moment that the Jays would be looking to maximize value if they were to trade those two players, and would not dismiss the Yanks (or BoSox, for that matter) just because they were division rivals, this begs the question: what would the Jays look for in return?

So let’s speculate.

Outfield

Arguably the Jays’ two greatest areas of need are starting pitching and the outfield.  The Yankees have an embarrassment of riches in the outfield, with Judge, Stanton, and Hicks under team control through 2022, 2027 and 2025 respectively.  and with Clint Frazier and Estevan Florial knocking on the door.

Frazier can hit.  He had a 170 wRC+ in AAA last year, and in 2019 he has been hitting at a .276/.330/.528 clip in the bigs (123 wRC+).  Problem is, his fielding is <ahem> “suspect“, despite having a cannon arm and decent speed.  The only outfield position he has produced decent defensive value at is left field, where Lourdes is currently staking a claim.  The Jays do need hitting, and Frazier is MLB-ready, but is prioritizing the bat over the glove a long-term answer?

Or, for that matter, is prioritizing the glove?  Estevan Florial is currently ranked as MLB’s #48 prospect, largely based on 60+ grades in running, arm strength and fielding.  He is projected to be an above-average centre fielder … when he reaches the bigs in 2021.  His hit tool is still developing, but he is batting .333/.429/.611 in a small sample size in High-A ball.  If he can keep hitting, he has 2018 Lorenzo Cain upside – but a lot can happen between high-A and the majors.  Particularly when Florial will be sidelined for the next 2.5 months with a broken hamate bone in his right (throwing) wrist.  Still, a natural centre fielder who can also run and hit would solve a lot of Jays’ problems, and perhaps waiting until 2021 would not be unacceptable?

Pitching

The Yankees have several pitchers grading 50 or better, but if any of them were slam-dunks the Yanks would likely not be looking at Stroman.

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Jonathan Loaisiga is ranked prospect #55.  He has a strong (65 grade) fastball and a solid curve and change.  He has been said to have top 30 SP upside.  But, at 5’11” and 165 pounds, there are questions about his durability.  He had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and has been limited by injuries ever since (he is currently on the 60-day IL with a shoulder problem).  Big upside, but big red injury flags.  The Jays have only one Stroman to deal – do they want to take the risk?

Albert Abreu is not a top-100 prospect, but he is a 50-grade pitcher with a power fastball and a solid-or-better curve and change.  His issue is control (command could use work too).  So far this year in double-A, he has issued 36 walks in 53 innings.  So he is what I call an “if only” player – if he can only solve the control issues, he could become a valuable MLB pitcher.  But that is a big “if”, and one that many minor league pitchers never overcome.  In theory, Abreu could become a valuable bullpen piece even if he fails as a starter, but that would be a disappointing outcome for the Jays.

Stop me if you have heard this next one.  A young pitcher is 5’9″ and 163 pounds.  He performs well in the minors, with a 91-96 fastball, but  “because he’s small and works with some effort, there are some concerns about his long-term durability as a starter, but his athleticism and efficiency help his cause“.   No, I am not talking about Marcus Stroman.  Deivi Garcia is a 50-grade Yankees prospect with a 2020 MLB ETA.  So far in 30 innings in 2019, he has a 2.97 ERA and a 13.6 K/9 in double-A (he also has a 4.5 BB/9, but nobody is perfect).  HDMH, anyone?

Clarke Schmidt is unusual in that he already has a fastball, curve, slider, and change-up that grade 55 or better (according to mlb.com, at least – Fangraphs does not agree).  But, like Loaisiga, he has injury concerns.  Clarke had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and only pitched 23 innings in 2018.  So far in 2019, he has missed 8 days in May with an “undisclosed injury” and is back on the IL with the same (maybe?) “undisclosed injury” now.  But, that said, he has pitched 33 innings in High-A ball to a 3.48 ERA and a 2.97 xFIP, with a near-elite 3.0 K:BB ratio.  Kent … err … Schmidt is expected to be promoted to double-A at some point in 2019 and to be MLB-ready in 2020, so he would fit the Jays’ timeline.  But as with Florial, a lot can happen between high-A and the majors, and with baseball injuries what you don’t know can most definitely hurt you.

The deal

If Marcus maintains his current 3.5-4.0 WAR pace, his surplus value over the next 1.5 years would be in the $35 million range.  Based on Fangraphs’ calculations, and with a bit of a bidding war premium, that would equate to one 55-level prospect + some lottery tickets or two 50-grade prospects.

So Stroman for Frazier/Florial/Loaisiga + change would make sense.  But perhaps a better fit for the Jays would be two of Abreu / Garcia / Schmidt.  Or, if the Jays could negotiate an injury discount for Florial (or argue that Fangraphs’ 50 rating is more accurate than mlb.com’s 55), might they be able to get him + one of Abreu / Garcia / Schmidt if they added some small sweetener to the deal?

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The bottom line

The Yankees certainly have pieces that the Jays could find appealing, either in a Stroman trade or in something larger (Giles?  Mayza?).  Given the strength of the New York outfield and 2020 rotation (after acquiring Stroman), it is entirely possible that the Yanks could be willing to deal from their prospect depth in those two areas.  Not sure if they are the very best trade partner fit (I still look at the Braves’ and Padres’ pitching prospect depth and whimper) but the potential is definitely there.

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