What Will It Take to Acquire Marcus Stroman?
Image courtesy of © Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY SportsTo figure out what it might take to acquire Marcus Stroman, let’s start by looking at what he brings to the table. Stroman is currently 28 years of age and is under team control through the 2020 season. Stroman currently possess a 3.06 ERA (3.62 FIP) in 117 and 2/3 innings for the Blue Jays so far in 2019. For his career, Stroman has a 3.78 ERA (3.62 FIP) through his first six MLB seasons. Stroman isn’t a heavy strikeout pitcher, as his career 19.3% strikeout rate is quite low for today’s standards. From a control perspective, Stroman is solid, as his career 6.7% walk rate is slightly above average for an MLB starting pitcher. What makes Stroman so effective is his extremely high groundball rate. In a era where hitters are trying to hit the ball in the air more than ever, Stroman does an excellent job of preventing them from doing so. Since his debut in 2014, Stroman has a 59.6% groundball rate and a 22.1% flyball rate. Among the 152 starting pitchers with at least 400 innings pitched over that span, those numbers rank as the second highest and third lowest respectively.
The next step is to look at the deal the Blue Jays are reportedly asking for. The blockbuster trade of last summer was the deal that sent Chris Archer to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Tyler Glasnow, Austin Meadows and Shane Baz. At the time Archer was still a highly thought of starting pitcher, with three and a half years of team control remaining. More than double of what is left on Marcus Stroman’s contract. Glasnow and Meadows were both highly touted prospects in the Pirates system who were up with MLB team, but hadn’t shown much at the MLB level quite yet. Still they were prized possessions, who many believed were ready to break out sooner rather than later, which is exactly what happened. Meadows has gotten off to a great start to 2019 and was named to the American League All-Star team. Glasnow was on his way there too with a 1.86 ERA (2.32 FIP) in eight starts before getting shut down with forearm inflammation. In addition to those two, Baz was the Pirates first round pick in 2017, and was ranked as the 95th best prospect in baseball by MLB.com at the time of the trade. Baz currently sits as MLB.com’s 91st best prospect in baseball, right around where they have Trevor Larnach and Jordan Balazovic ranked, for context. If the Twins were to match that offer, they would be looking at giving up a package deal that includes Alex Kirilloff, Brusdar Graterol and Jordan Balazovic.
It is probably safe to assume that the Blue Jays won’t be getting any offers for Marcus Stroman that are remotely in the range of that Chris Archer deal that a year later is already considered on of the worst deals in MLB history. Especially given the fact that Stroman has less trade value now than Archer did at this point last summer given the length of control each player has/had. If the Blue Jays don’t get a package that they like for Stroman, they could always hang onto him. However, they have little leverage to use that in a negotiation right now because MLB teams know the Blue Jays won’t be competitive again until after his contract is up, and from this point on, his trade value is only diminishing as the number of starts he can give the team that acquires him goes down. So, if the Blue Jays want to maximize their value for Stroman, they need to make a deal happen before the July 31st trade deadline.
If we want to look at a more realistic trade to comparison for a Marcus Stroman deal, a better trade to look at might be the Sonny Gray trade in 2017. At the time of his trade, Gray still had two and 1/2 years of control left before free agency, and like Stroman, was considered a young arm that would slot right into the top of the rotation on a postseason contender. While this is more than Stroman has left on his deal, it is a lot closer comparison than the Chris Archer deal. In that trade the Yankees gave up Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo and James Kaprielian, who were their fourth, eighth and twelfth ranked prospects respectively according to MLB.com. However, both Fowler and Kaprielian’s trade values had been significantly diminished at the time of the trade due to injury. Kaprielian was only a few months removed from Tommy John surgery and Fowler had torn his right patellar tendon after crashing into the while during the first inning of his MLB debut. At the time of the deal, the Yankees were considered to have a top farm system, like the Twins do now. So, if the Twins were to offer up their fourth, eighth and twelfth ranked prospects, according to MLB.com, the deal would include Trevor Larnach, Jhoan Duran and Stephen Gonsalves. To me, this seems like a much more realistic trade proposal for the Blue Jays to receive than one that would match the Chris Archer deal. However, since Gray still had an entire extra year of control remaining, it still stands to question that a fair trade for Stroman would be a little less expensive than that.
With all those factors laid out, we can start to make a more accurate prediction as to what it should cost to acquire Marcus Stroman. While this isn’t an exact science, because we don’t know exactly how the Twins and Blue Jays value the players in the Twins farm systems, and we don’t know exactly what other teams are willing to offer, we can probably get pretty close to a fair market value for Stroman. Personally, I think both Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff should not be on the table in trade discussions for Stroman, as each carries much more value to the organization than acquiring Stroman for one and a half years would. Additionally, I find it hard to believe that the Twins will look to move Brusdar Graterol right now with his value being diminished due to his shoulder injury. This leaves both Trevor Larnach and Jordan Balazovic to injclued as the headliner in the return package back to the Blue Jays. I think it will take at least one of these two, plus one or two other mid-level prospects to get the deal done.
My Offer: Trevor Larnach, Lewis Thorpe and Nick Gordon
What do you think? Is this package enticing enough to convince the Blue Jays to trade Marcus Stroman to the Twins, or is this offer too much to give up for him? What would you be willing to trade away to get Stroman? Let us know in the comment section down below.