On Sunday, the New York Mets Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson. If you have some questions about what the deal means for the Mets, Noah Syndergaard, and the rest of the trade market -- well, you aren't alone.
As part of our commitment to community service, we've decided to put together a handy guide in an attempt to answer all those questions and more. Here are five things you need to know.
1. Why would the Mets do this?
The Mets are 50-55 and six games removed from a wild-card spot. Your first response to the Stroman deal, then, was probably -- why are these guys buying, exactly?
It seems the Mets intend to compete in 2020, even as they ramp up their efforts to trade Noah Syndergaard. As such, New York is trying to thread a fine needle: trading one of their best starters while acquiring a comparable talent. The Mets had checked in on just about every available starter with more than a year of team control left -- ranging from Robbie Ray to Mike Minor to Lord knows who else -- until they found a deal to their liking.
Independent of what they do the rest of the deadline -- and it seems even likelier they'll move Syndergaard -- the Stroman deal seems like a solid one on paper, and one that should help position Brodie Van Wagenen's group to make a play for a postseason spot next season.
2. How will Stroman fit in New York?
You're going to hear a lot of talk about whether Stroman has the personality to fit in New York. We're not talking about that kind of fit -- we're talking about as a pitcher.
It's an interesting question because Stroman is an interesting pitcher. He doesn't strike out a ton of batters the way, say, Syndergaard does. Rather, Stroman has the majors' second-highest groundball rate among starters and relies upon contact management. That's a fine formula in a vacuum, though it could prove to be an issue in front of the Mets' defense.
Marcus Stroman will be fun to watch in a Mets uniform. But I really do have concerns about him pitching in front of the Mets’ infield defense. I really like Woods-Richardson, but this isn’t a crazy return for the Jays. Still, you really wonder how all of this fits in the end.— Adam Fisher (@adamgfisher) July 28, 2019
Entering Sunday, the Mets had the league's 24th-best defense as ranked by defensive efficiency -- that is the percentage of balls in play converted to outs. On grounders, the Mets ranked 28th. That's probably not surprising when you look at the personnel -- including the enigmatic Amed Rosario and the aging Robinson Cano -- but it's worth noting all the same.
On the relative bright side: the Blue Jays ranked 27th on turning grounders into outs, so it's not like Stroman has never succeeded in front of a sieve-like infield.
3. What does it mean for Syndergaard?
If anything, Stroman's addition may embolden the Mets to trade Syndergaard ahead of the July 31st deadline. Indeed, it seems the Mets are focused on moving him rather than shipping out Zack Wheeler, an impending free agent who could conceivably re-sign with the team:
No deal is believed to be close, but the Padres, Yankees, Athletics, and countless others have checked in on the asking price for Syndergaard. There's no telling which of those teams is the favorite, but you have to think they'll be calling the Mets again now that Stroman is in tow.
4. How does this impact the pitching market?
It certainly shakes things up. The Mets now have four of the pitchers who seemed likeliest to be dealt this deadline, in Stroman, Syndergaard, Wheeler, and Jason Vargas.
With the Giants perhaps not moving Madison Bumgarner and Cleveland having to deal with Trevor Bauer's tantrum on the mound, it's at least possible the Mets are well positioned to take advantage and dominate the starting-pitcher market.
One scenario: #Mets acquire Stroman and keep everything else, qualify Wheeler, pick up Vargas option. Go for it now and still have all SPs to consider what to do with in offseason (get comp picks on Wheeler if he leaves in free agency). But I still think they trade Wheeler— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 28, 2019
It's also possible the Mets play it safe and trade just Syndergaard with an eye on re-signing Wheeler and making the best of the rest of the season.
5. Who are these prospects?
Kay was the No. 31 pick in the 2016 draft by way of UConn. He didn't make his pro debut until 2018 due to Tommy John surgery, but has since reached Triple-A, where he's struggled in seven starts. He has a number of solid-average offerings, which could permit him to turn into a No. 3 or 4 starter, depending on how his stuff plays against big-league hitters. It's at least possible he debuts in the majors later this season, depending on the Blue Jays' evaluation.
Woods-Richardson won't be debuting anytime soon. He was among the younger draftees in 2018, and won't celebrate his 20th birthday until September 2020. You read that correctly. Woods-Richardson has enjoyed a lot of helium this season thanks to his fastball-curveball combination, but he'll need to continue to improve his changeup and command to develop into a mid-rotation starter.
Kay was ranked the Mets' No. 4 prospect by MLB.com, while Woods-Richardson checked in at No. 6. The Mets are not considered to have a good farm system by most talent evaluators.