The New York Mets made a splash just ahead of the trade deadline, acquiring Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays for minor league pitchers Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson.
The deal comes as a surprise as the Mets were seen as deadline sellers, with the biggest name available being hurler Noah Syndergaard. But the acquisition of Stroman, who is under team control until 2021 shows that the Mets aren’t looking to strip down the ship and sell the scraps. They still see themselves as contenders in 2020 and are looking to reload for next season instead.
Because of this, unless the Mets are completely overwhelmed, I think it is doubtful that Syndergaard is moved. Syndergaard is under team control until 2022 and is currently making a manageable $6 million per season. Any replacement of his caliber will come at a significantly larger price point and the Mets have shown that despite playing in a large market, they won’t always open the checkbook.
The same goes for relief pitcher Edwin Diaz, who has been a disaster in his first season in Queens. Because of Diaz’s struggles, his value is low and it’s never a good idea to sell low unless you believe the player is beyond reproach. Diaz also won’t hit free agency until 2023 and is making just $607,000 this season.
Rental players, such as Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares, Todd Frazier and Jason Vargas, are definite trade candidates, with nobody fetching more value than Wheeler. Additionally, since these players are rentals, no team should be off-limits for the Mets, including the Yankees or the Braves.
The addition of Stroman will help reinforce a strength on the Mets roster – starting pitching – and ultimately give them a replacement (and upgrade) for Wheeler. Jacob de Grom is here to stay with Syndergaard, Stroman and Steven Matz following behind. Instead of having to make a push for someone like Cole Hamels or Madison Bumgarner in November at the cost of $13 million-plus, they instead get Stroman for $7.6 million and lets them focus on other positional needs like second base, third base and center field.
One player who I wouldn’t be surprised to see moved, however, is outfielder Michael Conforto. Conforto is a talented player with 30-home run potential but has struggled to put it all together on a consistent basis. He had a hot start to the 2019 season, owning an OPS of .922 in the month of April, but had had an OPS of .892, .731 and .751 in the months since and has struggled against left-handed pitching. Perhaps a change of scenery could benefit the 2017 All-Star, who has an additional two years of control left.
Acquiring Stroman reminds me of what the Pirates did last year when they acquired Chris Archer. The Mets, like Pittsburgh, are looking to compete next year and acquiring the talent to do so rather than relying on the lottery tickets of acquiring prospects who may not be ready in 2020.