The New York Mets pulled off a blockbuster trade to land Marcus Stroman, but was it the right move for the team now or in the future?
It’s anyone’s guess as to what New York Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen is thinking. This team may be on a four-game win streak and 10-5 since the All-Star break, but this isn’t a playoff team.
The bullpen is shaky at best, even if they’ve been the best in baseball since the All-Star break. The defense is an absolute mess. They’re ranked 28th in baseball. Unless something dramatically changes, this is not a playoff team in 2019. The Mets are six games out the wild card as of Tuesday morning, and with five teams in front of them, it’s a mountain to climb.
So why did the Mets trade for Marcus Stroman? Well, it’s because they hope for a 2015-esque turn around this year while hoping to stay competitive for 2020. Remember prior to the Cespedes trade in 2015 the Mets were five games back of the Nationals, they went on to sweep them in a three-game series and close that gap. The Mets could think their recent success is who they really are, and they want to make sure they sell without giving up the chance at a playoff run.
New York Mets: Incomplete
Yes, the Mets gave up two of their top 10 prospects in this deal. Yes, it’s unlikely that they will be competing for a playoff spot this year. Still, it’s impossible to grade this deal without seeing what else happens. In a vacuum, this is a good trade for them. They got a starting pitcher with a 3.2 WAR for a year and a half while only giving up two prospects outside of the top 100 in baseball. That’s as good value as one could hope to get. Of course, this trade isn’t made in a vacuum.
The Mets aren’t looking to go all-in on 2019 but instead, retool. they’re still looking into trades for Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, and Edwin Diaz. Any combo of those players could be wearing a different uniform in just 48 hours. That’s what makes this deal so complicated.
If the Mets hold onto Syndergaard and Diaz but deal Wheeler to replenish the prospects they just lost, then this deal makes more sense. In 2020 the Mets would have a rotation headlined by DeGrom, Syndergaard, Stroman, and Matz. It’s hard to do better than that, that’s a rotation that could carry a team to a playoff spot. If that’s the plan then the Mets get a B+ for this trade.
If the Mets turn around and trade Syndergaard, then this deal makes little sense. With Syndergaard gone, the Mets will need to fill two starting pitcher spots in the offseason. Unless the return for Syndergaard makes an immediate impact next season, the team will be worse, and the grade would be a D.
The Mets have put themselves in a powerful position as they control the two highest upside pitchers at the deadline this year. Better yet, there aren’t many strong alternatives left on the market. That should, in theory, increase the return for Syndergaard or Wheeler.
In that sense, this move could be brilliant. It’s impossible to grade the Mets yet because nobody knows what’s going to happen next. This deal could be anything from stellar to disastrous, and Brodie Van Wagenen is the only one who knows which one it is.
Toronto Blue Jays: B-
The Blue Jays got a light return for Marcus Stroman. Neither Anthony Kay nor Simeon Woods Richardson are top 100 prospects. There is a reason they made this trade though.
First, Anthony Kay is a close-to-major-league-ready prospect. He should be able to take a spot in their rotation, if not at some point before the end of the season, then next year for sure. The real prize of the deal is Woods Richardson who has been flat out dominant at A ball this year at just 18 years old, he was just recently promoted to high-A but hasn’t made a start there.
Although Kay is knocking on the door of the majors, his fit with the Blue Jays is a bad one. Kay is likely a back of the rotation arm in the majors, with a ceiling as a mid-rotation starter. That kind of pitcher has value and would be a good get for the Blue Jays.
Unfortunately for them, Kay is a fly ball pitcher. The Blue Jays play their home games at Rogers Centre, which is one of the best hitters parks in baseball. It is especially known as a home run hitters haven. Kay, being a fly ball pitcher, has not fit in with the juiced ball.
Since he was promoted to Triple-A, he has allowed an insane 2.01 HR/9, and that’s in a relatively pitcher-friendly park in the most pitcher-friendly Triple-A league. That doesn’t bode well for a switch over to Rogers Centre.
Even if Kay hits his ceiling based on his raw stuff, he may never be a major league pitcher capable of pitching in Rogers Centre. This move was a bad one by the Blue Jays analytics team.
On the other hand, Simeon Woods Richardson is a phenomenal get for the Blue Jays. The 18-year-old pitcher has ace level stuff if he can put it together. Despite a shaky ERA in A-ball this year, Woods Richardson put up stunning numbers.
Woods-Richardson posted a stellar 2.56 FIP and 2.29 XFIP. On top of that, he posted 11 K/9 and only 1.9 BB/9. When players do get the bat on the ball, Woods Richardson has proven to be a ground ball pitcher. He could not fit the mold of the Blue Jays need more perfectly.
The only issue is that Woods Richardson has had issues going deep into games. In 20 games started, he has only thrown 78.2 innings, that’s less than four innings a start. For the time being, that can be chalked up to a young pitcher needing to build up endurance.
In the long-term though, it seems to be an indication that Woods Richardson’s future likely lies in the bullpen. If he can stay a starter, this may be a trade the Mets regret for a long time. If not, at least the Blue Jays got a high-leverage reliever out of the deal.