Trade deadline season had been pretty boring, but no longer! Marcus Stroman had been the subject of lots of speculation, and for good reason, as was recently written by Sheryl Ring that was liked by Stroman himself! Much to everyone’s surprise, however, he was acquired by the Mets for a couple of their top-ten prospects.
I first found out about this trade through the BtBS Slack, when all we knew was that Stroman was going to the Mets but nobody knew what the return was yet. I was freaking out. I was afraid my team was going to part with Noah Syndergaard and/or a top prospect like Andrés Giménez. Even if that were not the case, and it turned out not to be, I think it is more than fair to be afraid of what the Mets were planning. Ever since the Wilpons became the owners, the organization has a terrible reputation for decision making and dysfunction.
Thankfully, the Mets did not overpay for Stroman, parting with two of their top-ten prospects in Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay, both of whom you can learn more about in the sidebar. In fact, I think the Blue Jays got a light return for a season and a half of Stroman, though I understand the arguments for it being adequate. At best it is underwhelming. The Jays’ farm system is by no means in trouble after the promotion of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and last night’s debut of Bo Bichette, but the rebuilding team would have benefited from a stronger return.
Even if you think this is a solid return for Stroman, I am really surprised that a team was not willing to do better. There are a number of competitive teams that could have benefited from Stroman’s services who could have made better offers without overpaying. It really makes you wonder why they did not.
Stroman is having a very good season with a 3.61 RA9, 3.79 DRA, and 3.2 WAR. However, he has a strikeout rate below 20 percent that ranks him in the bottom 20 among qualified pitchers. This combined with his diminutive stature is what might have given other teams pause over paying more to acquire him. He succeeds by being one of the best groundball pitchers in baseball, with a career rate of nearly 60 percent.
Unfortunately, Stroman is going to a team that is poorly equipped to match his strengths as a groundball pitcher, as the Mets infield defense is one of the worst in baseball. I have been especially surprised by Amed Rosario at shortstop. He was supposed to provide value with his glove, but the advanced metrics rate him pretty poorly, and honestly, I can’t disagree with that going by the eye test.
The Mets are on a nice little win streak, but they are still 50-55, 11 1⁄2 games out of first place, and six games out of the last Wild Card slot with five teams in front of them. FanGraphs gives them only a 13.6 percent chance to grab that last Wild Card slot. They have virtually no shot this year but, they have Stroman for next year, too.
I can’t believe I am saying this, and I know there have been a fair number of writers who have been critical, but I believe this was a good trade for the Mets. Stroman is a big upgrade over the recently traded Jason Vargas, probably by a solid two wins over a full season. The NL East will still be very competitive next year, but the Mets window is open now. With a bolstered starting rotation and a core of position players such as Rosario, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, and Pete Alonso, it makes sense to give it another try with this team in 2020.
This plan only makes sense if they hang on to Thor. Trading him and hanging on to Zack Wheeler, and then extending him when he hits free agency this winter might very well accomplish nothing more than paying to negate the upgrade that Stroman can provide for this team. Thor and Wheeler have been remarkably similar this year, with nearly identical DRAs and WAR, but Thor is three years younger and is under contract through 2021. Moreover, you can’t deny that Thor has more upside than Wheeler.
(Ironically, the price the Mets paid for Stroman might limit their return on Wheeler, who is an inferior pitcher about to hit free agency.)
Given this organization’s track record, I have little faith that they will continue to make logical moves between now and the trade deadline. Consider this Mets fan terrified of any further big Mets news dropping between now and 4 PM Wednesday.
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Luis Torres is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score. He is a medicinal chemist by day, baseball analyst by night. You can follow him on Twitter at @Chemtorres21.