While many Blue Jays fans were upset when Marcus Stroman was traded to New York, the deal is already looking better less than six months later.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t terribly pleased when Marcus Stroman was traded to the New York Mets. It was a combination of the trade coming a few days before the trade deadline, which made me question if the Blue Jays made the deal at the right time, and not knowing the players that were coming back very well. Even with a bit of quick research, the return still struck me as a little bit light.
Roughly five months after the trade was made, things are already looking a lot better for Ross Atkins and the rest of the front office, even if the immediate benefits haven’t really been felt yet. The Blue Jays saw the MLB debut of Anthony Kay last year, who will likely compete for a spot in the back of the 2020 rotation, and has the upside to be a middle of the rotation type if his career goes the right way.
Kay is a solid piece of the puzzle, but it’s become a lot more clear how much potential is in the arm of Simeon Woods Richardson. That was immediately made obvious with the 18-year-old when he arrived in High-A Dunedin, pitching to a 2.54 ERA and a 0.882 WHIP in six starts against much older competition, striking out 29 in 28.1 innings.
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Now that Baseball America has updated the Blue Jays’ top prospects, Woods Richardson has jumped all the way to #3 behind Nate Pearson and Jordan Groshans, and ahead of other notable pitching prospects in the system. While he’s not yet on the Top 100 prospects list, it seems like it’s just a matter of time before he’s pushing to be included, and then for the top tier..
Speaking of the Top 100 list, the fact that neither Kay or Woods Richardson were highly regarded enough to be on it at the time of the trade was a big reason for fans questioning the move. Stroman was the best pitcher the Blue Jays had tried to trade since they agreed to send Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, and with another season left on his contract before hitting free agency, it was a significant chance to improve the roster for the long-term. Funny how quickly that outlook has changed, including for yours truly.
In addition to the promise of Woods Richardson and Kay being far more obvious, I believe you could make an argument that Stroman’s value has taken a step in the wrong direction. In 11 starts for the Mets he posted a 3.77 ERA compared to the 2.92 mark he had in Toronto, and his WHIP rose from 1.227 to 1.457. He wasn’t terrible by any means, but things didn’t go the way Stroman or the Mets had envisioned when he arrived.
There’s also the mini-feud that Stroman has started with the Blue Jays on social media, which has been pretty much one-sided. He’s been critical of his former club, and has taken a few chances to make that known, including with some comments about Nikki Huffman’s departure as the Head Trainer.
In the end, the divorce between Stroman and the Blue Jays was going to happen sooner or later, and it’s already looking like the Blue Jays made out very well in the deal. Kay could contribute as soon as next season, and don’t be surprised if Woods Richardson becomes the “it” pitching prospect in the system once Nate Pearson makes his debut. Even if I didn’t know it the day the Blue Jays acquired him, he’s a top-level talent, and my opinion of the trade has already changed a great deal, even in just a few short months.