Assessing Mets Marcus Stroman Trade

Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman. This is a pitcher who has pitched quite well in the AL East, and he is a pitcher with big game experience being named the World Baseball Classic MVP in addition to some really good postseason performances.

Stroman grew up a Mets fan, and as a result, the Mets are getting a player who should become a fan favorite in short order. Assuming no other moves for a moment, the Mets rotation is very clearly the best in baseball, and you can argue acquiring Stroman makes their chances of making the postseason this year significantly better.

The one ding people will bring up with Stroman is he’s reliant upon a good infield defense to be successful, and the Mets defense has not been good this year. On that note, the Blue Jays have been a below average defensive team this year with a -6 DRS with them having a -4 DRS at first, -9 DRS at second, 1 DRS at third, and a 0 DRS at shortstop. With the Mets having Todd Frazier at third and Amed Rosario playing a to positive DRS in the second half, they fair well in comparison to the Blue Jays. Eliminate the turf, and you can argue this is actually a better situation for Stroman to be even better.

Now, if the Mets were in the position the Braves were in, you understand this trade. Stroman is the piece which arguably puts the Mets over the top. When you roll out Jacob deGromNoah SyndergaardMarcus StromanZack WheelerSteven Matz in your rotation, you’re dangerous in both the regular season and post season. As for the bullpen issues, with that collection of five guys, the Mets could take a page out of Alex Cora‘s book last postseason and utilize their starters to dominate the entire series.

Stroman would be an overpay, but it would be one along the lines of the Cubs trading Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman. If you win the World Series, who cares? In some ways, Stroman is even better than that because he is under control for next year as well. This not only gives you the best rotation in baseball right now, but it puts you in a position where you’ve insulated your team from losing Wheeler in the offseason.

The problem with the Mets is they’re five games under .500, and they are six games out of the division and the Wild Card. They are in real striking distance, but they also have many obstacles in their way.

The Mets have three teams ahead of them in the division, and they have four teams ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. The team just lost Dominic Smith which somehow depletes an already suspect outfield depth even further, and it also stands in the way of the Mets finding some more games for Pete Alonso, who is really struggling so far in the second half.

Speaking of depth, the Mets already suspect starting pitching depth did take a hit. On the one hand, yes, assuming no other moves, acquiring Stroman exponentially improves the depth as he’s a significant upgrade over Jason Vargas, who should now find himself in the bullpen. On that note, the bullpen also looks better. However, that assumes no other moves.

At the moment, it seems the Mets are looking to move Noah Syndergaard in a companion move to help fill out the current roster. Of note, the team still desperately needs a center fielder. It should be noted with the current rumors, Manuel Margot isn’t that guy. He’s yet to be a league average hitter in his career, and he’s a -1 DRS this year in center. On that front, it should be noted he was really good prior to this year with an 8 DRS in 2017 and a 9 DRS in 2018.

If the Mets move Syndergaard, they are again relying on Walker Lockett and Corey Oswalt to be their starting pitching depth this year and the next. Aside from one Lockett start this year, that is misplaced faith. This means the Mets need David Peterson to step up instead of hoping one of him or Anthony Kay are ready.

Like with trading Justin Dunn to the Mariners, trading Kay hurt the depth, and it deprived the organization of real starting pitching upside. It also eliminated the possibility of taking either pitcher to send them out there and try to replicate with Seth Lugo or to a lesser extent Robert Gsellman are doing.

Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization. On that note, they did not do that after trading Jarred Kelenic and Dunn in the trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano. On the Cano point, the Mets are up against the luxury tax next year, and they seem to be already using it as an excuse not to add despite the team collecting tens of millions of dollars in insurance proceeds on David Wright and Yoenis Cespedes while also deferring $12 million of deGrom’s contract.

From a Mets standpoint, the part of the deal which really hurts is Simeon Woods Richardson. This is an 18 year old pitcher already pitching for a full season affiliate. He is getting his fastball up to 97 MPH with a promising and developing curve and change which could both be plus pitches. Despite being almost four years younger than the competition, he is striking out 11.1 batters per nine while having an incredible 5.71 K/BB. This is a special arm, and the Mets traded him away with a top 100 prospect for one plus year of Stroman.

On the Woods Richardson front, the Mets were beyond loaded with teenage talent heading into this year. In addition to him, the Mets had Kelenic, Ronny Mauricio, Mark Vientos, Francisco Alvarez, Shervyen Newton, Luis Santana, and others along with a pitcher like Thomas Szapucki. This was a group poised to break into the majors around 2022, and when they came up, the Mets could have really had a prolonged World Series window open.

With Brodie Van Wagenen as the General Manager, that is what he has been trading away. He has severely hampered the next window from opening. Of course, that assumes the Mets window is currently open. This is a big reason why many baseball people don’t understand this trade. This seems one of those moments like when they pulled off the Cano deal or Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano the Mets are trying to tell us they are smarter then everyone when they’re really not.

Ultimately, you may not like this trade, but you would have certainly understood it if the Mets were 10 games over .500. They’re not. This trade becomes all the more puzzling when you consider they are supposedly doing this as a precursor to trading Syndergaard. Really, when looking at the entire plan right now, none of this makes sense. It makes even less sense if you are trading Syndergaard for prospects because the Mets just obtained one plus year of Stroman and not five.

Overall, this was an overpay for Stroman, and depending on what the Mets do now, it could be a completely unforced error. Typically in these moments, you like to sit and wait before passing judgment on the total plan, but considering how Van Wagenen has lost every trade he’s made thus far, there shouldn’t be much hope this was the first strike in what is one grand master plan.

In essence, enjoy Stroman while he’s a Met. He’s a fun player and really good pitcher who is coming home to pitch for the team he rooted for when he was growing up. Also, root for another hometown kid in Kay and hope Woods Richardson fulfills his potential. Root for everyone to succeed because it helps the Mets in the short term, and it will also help in the long run to remind the Mets that they’re really not better at this than everyone else. They have been and will continue to be considerably worse until Jeff Wilpon realizes he’s the problem.

39 Replies to “Assessing Mets Marcus Stroman Trade”

  1. Fred’s Rugs says:

    Maybe the Mets have a starter to replace Vargas…. and they are going for it?
    Or just maxing the pieces thinking of next year first.

    They did not get a deal done with the Padres or Astronauts?
    Moved on?

    If they want Wheeler back why deal him for questionable return to a contender who might “turn him on” to resigning him in 2020?

    Why trade Noah for less than SD or Houston can offer … as they want a top ten prospect from both?

    I like this cerebral kid here.
    So smart he almost never gets caught stealing bases?
    Trouble w AA, hurt?

    Maybe having him around to working with pitching prospects at AA AAA might be the fallback position?

    de Grom

    Wildcard, here we come?

    1. metsdaddy says:

      If the Mets play it right, that’s the rotation next year, which would be great

  2. Gothamist says:

    I am sick and tired of these well run clubs in all pro leagues taking away the studs of poorly run teams during these trades. Teams with new GMs, those without smart owners, who guaranteed results.

    They add an integral piece if not an over the top Verlander and for what, hope?

    They keep their proven assets and do not want to go into their own top prospects ?


    Keep Noah and Zachary unless we get a MLB starter
    and let SD or Houston plug in their own prospect, that was so valuable to part with, when they give us their CFer, third starter, or starting third baseman.


    1. metsdaddy says:

      The haul the Mets would need to trade Syndergaard should be cost preventative for other teams to obtain him.

  3. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    “Before going into the weeds on the cost, it should first be noted the Mets are a much better team for getting Marcus Stroman.”

    —They’re a slightly better team, having just dumped the starter, Vargas, getting the second best results on the team this year in return for a 26 yo AA catcher who can’t hit and can’t stay in the lineup. This “deal” immediately disabuses us of any notion the Wilpons were looking to contend or aren’t making moves just to save money. They dealt Vargas as a pure salary dump, to save a couple of million dollars. Austin Bossart, as a AA repeater, is now hitting. 195. So that’s who the Mets had to have to induce them to deal away Vargas and further weaken their abysmal bullpen complement. This also means that, once again, any time the Mets front 5 can’t go they’re turning over the ball for a start or starts to someone who doesn’t belong in the majors.

    A Mets team actually intent on competing for the postseason, however unlikely that obviously is at this point, would hardly dump their second best starter by results who, regardless of what one thinks of him, also allowed the Mets to push their worst starter on the year, Matz (both on the year and over the last three years), to the bullpen, where they desperately need another live arm. In addition, Vargas significantly improves the Phillies rotation as he is now their second best starter by both ERA and FIP, and is a bigger improvement over whom they would otherwise be sending out there than the Mets have improved themselves by substituting Stroman for Vargas and pushing Matz back out of the bullpen. Vargas has a 3.27 ERA in his last 16 starts, and he’s stepping into a Phillies rotation that is among the worst in the NL. Vargas is 2 runs better per 9 than the guy he’ll be replacing. The Phillies FO must be shaking its head in disbelief and toasting themselves well into the night.

    The Mets have actually made a division and wildcard rival significantly better by sending it Vargas for nothing, and they’ve actually improved that rival more in the last 48 hours than they’ve improved their own team. Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

    We can further expect another trade, of Wheeler or Syndergaard, before the deadline, since the Mets clearly aren’t going for it, and since they won’t be going for it next year except in press releases. What a sick joke.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Stroman is a significantly better pitcher. He’s a number two starter, and Vargas isn’t a MLB caliber fifth starter, at least not on a good team.

      Really, I don’t get people up in arms of swapping Stroman for Vargas and weakening the Phillies.

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        @MD – I can’t tell at this point whether you realize what the Mets have done, or not. It’s not Stroman replacing Vargas. It’s Stroman replacing the much worse Matz this year, while removing Matz–who could be a key reliever–from the Mets bullpen AND improving the Phillies rotation by 2-3 runs every time Vargas steps in.

        If you look at the Phillies rotation after Arrieta perhaps you’ll stop making this claim.

        Vargas improves the Phillies by more runs per 9 than Stroman improves the Mets. It’s inarguable, if you simply look at facts and actual results.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          I’d first note, if the Mets make no other moves, Stroman os replacing Vargas.

          I’d also note Vargas is just bad and hurts the Phillies. Saying he’ll succeed there is an untenable position.

  4. Blair M. Schirmer says:

    “Being fair, in the end a package headlined by Kay was a fair return for Stroman. It did make sense to gamble Kay away for the year plus of Stroman, especially if you are really going to go for it as an organization.”

    —– ***We know they’re not, though. That must be faced.***

    I just don’t think it’s reasonable to give the Wilpons the benefit of any doubt, particularly when they’ve just sent Vargas AND $2.9m to a division and wildcard rival solely to avoid having to pay Vargas’s 2m buyout in 2020, which also means they had and have no intention of bolstering their own rotation which completely collapses in the 5th slot and lower down. (We know they’re not bringing back both Wheeler and Syndergaard next year, and may well bring back neither.) They also, once again, as they did with Dunn last offseason, dealt away–in Anthony Kay–their only minor league starter with any chance of helping them the following season.

    “…Manuel Margot…”

    —– Margot’s a decent player. Fairly durable, and you can largely count on him for above average defense. At 24 he’s the opposite of the Lagares or Broxton kind of post-prime guy at 29 or 30 (when defense peaks in a player’s early 20s) who at any moment will find himself no longer a major league-caliber player. Margot, as modest as he is at around 2 WAR per 500 PAs, nicely changes the Mets complexion by pushing their corner OFers out of CF and back into corners, where they belong.

    By getting the Lagares, Broxton, Gomez, Altherr guys out of the OF Margot tips the scales by up to 5 wins, just by not being terrible. The Mets CFers this year will probably combine for negative 3 WAR (Lagares alone is -1.3 bWAR. Broxton was -0.6. Altherr is already -0.2. Gomez was -0.4. Pushing Conforto into center cost about -0.5 WAR. And we still have 57 games to go.) Replace that gang catastrophe with Margot’s 2 WAR in a nearly full time role, and you’ve gained 5 WAR with just this modest acquisition.

    Certainly Margot is the kind of player the Mets should hold out for in the return for Syndergaard, whatever else that includes. They desperately need a player of his type, assuming they aren’t going to make a major deal for an expensive player, or sign an expensive corner OFer in FA and keep faking Conforto and Nimmo in center. His ilk has more value to the Mets than it does to probably any other team. It won’t turn them into a contender, but given whom he’ll replace, he might turn a low-70s win 2020 Mets team into a high-70s win team.

    In any case it will be one more test of van Wagenen’s learning curve. He blundered both by getting Broxton, then by dumping Broxton from pique, given the alternatives. Can Wags at least figure out the OF and CF situation for 2020 given the enormous mass of evidence under his nose? I actually have doubts, but we’ll see. If he doesn’t get this one right, he’s probably hopeless. Some guys are simply oblivious.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Manuel Margot isn’t a good player. He’s yet to be league average at the plate, and his glove isn’t good enough to carry the bat. He’s essentially a lesser of what Lagares has been.

      That’s a throw-in, especially with him becoming arbitration eligible.

      1. Blair M. Schirmer says:

        @MD – and yet, the facts say otherwise. His bat is adequate, certainly for CF, and over the last 3 years his glove has been well above average.

        All the numbers say he’s a 2 WAR player per 500 PAs. That would make him the second best OFer on the Mets this year.

        Meanwhile, if you go by this season’s fielding numbers, it’s as if you’re judging the career of a 24 year old by 1/6ths of a season’s worth of plate appearances. It doesn’t make sense.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          Manuel Margot has been a sub 100 OPS+ and wRC+. That’s not adequate. It’s bad.

          To trade a top of the rotation starter for that is unfathomably stupid.

    2. Gothamist says:

      Hey, if Wheeler contract is untenable Stroman makes more sense.

      If Vargas was definitely a goner for 2020 then saving money was a consideration.

      Personally, I liked what I saw in Kaye at that futures game, I prefer having two lefties in the rotation at a min yet who knows they may have enough prospects in the deal(s) soon to be announced?

      If all the high picks pre 2019 they have left as a starter is Peterson at Binghamton.

      This is unprecedented.

      Boston was a WS probable when they broke the bank for Chris Sale but what win next year team, here they save $2m on Vargas, gets a 26 year old redoing AA shows they are an impoverished club to sign FAs then goes into next year with almost zero in AAA?

      1. metsdaddy says:

        I think the Mets will miss Kay and SWR, but it’s up to the team to decide if they’ll regret it. If you back this move up, you’ll win.

        I don’t think anyone is optimistic that’ll happen.

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