The Toronto Blue Jays traded their most obvious trade chip to the New York Mets. After weeks of speculation, the Jays finally pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Marcus Stroman to the Big Apple.
In exchange, the Blue Jays pick up a pair of pitching prospects: Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson. According to MLB Pipeline, Kay ranked as the Mets’ number four prospect and Woods-Richardson ranked sixth.
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) July 29, 2019
Kay is close to being Major League-ready and has pitched at double-A and triple-A this season. The 24-year-old carved up double-A this year, pitching to a 1.43 ERA in 12 starts for the Binghamton Rumble Ponies.
While Kay could be ready to impact the Blue Jays’ roster as early as next season, Woods-Richardson is much further away and hasn’t pitched above single-A this year. 2019 is his second season of professional baseball and he too is a starting pitcher, having made 20 starts with a 4.25 ERA.
At first glance, this deal looks a little light for the Blue Jays. Yet, it’s premature to give this deal a pass or fail for at least another three or four more years. The Blue Jays didn’t land a top 100 prospect for their most valuable trade chip, but they received two high-impact arms who might rocket up through the system in a hurry.
By trading Stroman now, the Blue Jays recoup some of his value and turn that into two starting pitchers with six years of team control each. And yet, they’re two prospects, so it’s trading one constant for a pair of lottery tickets. Stroman is the constant; Kay and Woods-Richardson are the lottery tickets.
By bringing in a pair of pitching prospects, the Blue Jays continue to cast a wide net in their quest to acquire as much pitching depth as possible. In a perfect world, the Blue Jays hope this trade brings them back two prospects who have the potential to become the next Marcus Stroman.
However, betting on prospects is always a volatile game. Kay is on the doorstep of the big leagues, but Woods-Richardson has a way to go before he vaults himself into the next wave of the Blue Jays’ starting rotation.
The Blue Jays own an abundance of high-ceiling pitching prospects in their system now, but is it a case of quantity over quality? And how soon will these arms be Major-League ready?
The difficulty the Blue Jays face right now is the development curve on their pitching prospects hasn’t matched the development curve on their position players. Most of the Blue Jays highly touted position players are in the majors right now — Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Danny Jansen, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and soon to be Bo Bichette.
Toronto doesn’t have that wave coming in the form of pitchers who could step into Stroman’s shoes and make 30-plus starts a year. That’s likely why the Blue Jays organization has loaded up on pitching prospects in the major of trades they’ve made over the last year.
By dealing Stroman, the Blue Jays lose a high-calibre starting pitcher from their rotation. The 28-year-old cleared 200-innings in 2016 and 2017 and is well on his way to clearing 150-plus innings this season. Stroman finished eighth in American League Cy Young voting and won a Gold Glove in 2017 and was named an All-Star this season.
He’s taken the ball in some of the biggest games in Blue Jays history; Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS series versus the Texas Rangers and the winner-take-all Wild Card game in 2016 against the Baltimore Orioles.
In the weeks leading up to this deal, Stroman sounded like somehow who knew fully well the Blue Jays were planning on trading him. The Long Island native moves to the National League and gets to pitch for one of his hometown teams: the New York Mets.
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) July 29, 2019
If the Blue Jays had no interest in re-signing Stroman, it made the most sense to capitalize at this trade deadline and deal him now. Last year, the Blue Jays arguably waited too long to trade some of their most valuable trade chips, Josh Donaldson among them.
This was the Blue Jays’ marquee deal to make at the 2019 trade deadline and while they didn’t land a can’t-miss blue chip prospect, they picked up a few arms who could play pivotal roles for this team in the next three-to-four years.