Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman will be one of the premier arms on the trade block at the deadline, and these five teams need to be after him.
In obvious rebuilding mode, the Toronto Blue Jays have been quietly making 28-year-old right-hander Marcus Stroman available, with multiple contenders already hot in pursuit. After making only 19 starts last season and pitching to an ugly 5.54 ERA while battling shoulder fatigue and blisters, Stroman has bounced back this year in a big way. He is 5-10 but has a 3.25 ERA in over 110 innings and is allowing only 0.8 home runs per nine, which is impressive considering MLB is asking its pitchers to toss golf balls across home plate this season.
Stroman comes with one more season of arbitration before he hits free agency, boosting his trade value. He has spent his entire career in the AL East and is on track for his third 200-inning season in the past four years. That combination of durability and success in the most hitter-friendly division in baseball is hard to find. Stroman’s best pitch is his two-seam fastball, which plays well in the launch-angle-obsessed league.
Throughout his career, Stroman has shown an ability to elevate his game when the pressure is on. He relishes big moments and never backs down. That brash persona may rub some opposing fans the wrong way, but it is the exact type of mentality a player needs to thrive during a pennant race. In 2015, with the Jays battling for a division title, he returned in September from a torn ACL to win four games with a 1.67 ERA in four starts.
With the New York Mets continuing to be wishy-washy with Noah Syndergaard, Stroman is the best non-rental starting pitcher on the trade block this season. It won’t be cheap to acquire him, but he has the potential to be a real difference maker in a tight playoff race. Here are the five teams who should consider pulling the trigger and giving the Blue Jays whatever they ask for.
5. Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies didn’t trade for All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto and sign Bryce Harper to a $330-million contract just to fall short of the playoffs and struggle to keep themselves above .500 for the first time since 2011. No, this Phillies team and its front office expects to be winning immediately. The Harper signing, coupled with last winter’s big deals for Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana, was supposed to signal an end to the rebuild and a return to World Series contention in Philadelphia.
It obviously isn’t quite working out as expected for the Phillies, who are just 24-29 since peaking at 24-16 on May 13. Harper has slumped, Arrieta’s contract looks like a disaster and 2018 Cy Young candidate Aaron Nola took the better part of the first half to get himself in a groove. The Phillies aren’t out of the playoff picture by any means, but aren’t exactly striking fear into the teams ahead of them in the standings.
The offseason trade for Realmuto just about tapped out the Phillies farm system of high-end talent, but a few trade chips remain. Consistent support has failed to materialize around Nola, but a trade for Stroman could fix that. The Phillies might have just enough left in their system to get themselves to the negotiating table with the Jays.