What a weird world we live in. The Mets, of all the teams that consider themselves contenders, were the ones that came out on top and acquired Marcus Stroman. By all accounts, they didn’t have to give up too much to get him either. Here are a few prospect people on the trade.
I have no strong take. The trade is weird. The Mets probably shouldn’t be buying and the Blue Jays probably should have gotten more, but like it’s fine for both at the core.— Jarrett Seidler (@jaseidler) July 28, 2019
I like SWR. He’s grown on me this year. But this seems pretty light for the Blue Jays.— David Lee (@David11Lee) July 28, 2019
Several executives from rival teams say they love the Stroman deal for the #Mets, who are cornering the trade market for starters while also aware that this winter's free-agent class for starters is thin after Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Rick Porcello, Zack Wheeler.— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) July 29, 2019
Keep fishing on Twitter and the general consensus is that the return for Stroman is lighter than what has been predicted around the blogosphere. I personally love this trade for the Mets, as long as they don’t turn around and trade Noah Syndergaard, but that isn’t the point of this piece. The point here is to place the target squarely on the back of Matt Klentak. It is time for him to step up.
It’s hard to compare the two teams right now, the Mets and the Phillies. It’s clear that the Mets are trying to win right now at the expense of their farm system. Otherwise they wouldn’t have dealt four of their top ten prospects for an aging second baseman, a closer and pitcher that doesn’t, on paper, fit with how their defense is constructed. But at the same time, the rumors of Syndergaard heading out of Queens are growing louder, which makes this trade confounding the deeper you go. They’re trying to win now, but not win now.
On the other hand, the Phillies have been public about their desire not to spend their prospect capital on upgrades that aren’t glaring, so they must not have considered Stroman to be that much of a game changer. How this trade impacts the Phillies is that it, in general, sets the market for what other teams can do with the pitchers they have available. If the Rangers were to dangle Mike Minor, then we know now they aren’t going to be able to ask for a bigger package than what Toronto got for Stroman. They can try, but no one will meet that price and their opportunity to sell Minor at his highest value right now will vanish. It’s just bad business.
This is where the Phillies come in. They have already made one small addition to help bolster the depth on the team when they signed Drew Smyly. Banking on him to be a huge addition is foolish and the team would be wise to add someone else. Couple that with the fact that the market for pitching isn’t what we all thought it was and there is reason enough for Klentak to go out and make additions. There really is no excuse. The price for Stroman means that there are deals to be made that may not set back the farm system all that much.
Now, we’re not talking about those Earth shattering deals where they pull a Pittsburgh and send 3 top prospects for someone like Chris Archer. That would be foolish. But the prices for names like Tanner Roark, Alex Wood and Robbie Ray, all players linked to the Phillies in recent days, should be down to more palatable levels, levels at which the team should be comfortable enough paying. If the Rangers were to ask for Adonis Medina and Enyel de los Santos in exchange for Minor, well, that might be something worth talking about. Is that a guy that would be an upgrade for this team? While you ask yourself that, ponder this: the team went out of its way to say that Zach Eflin will remain in the rotation. If, after the last few performances of Eflin make the team feel comfortable about how they’ll line up for August and September, there is something wrong at the top of this organization.
The point is clear. This Stroman deal means that Klentak needs to act. The excuse that opposing teams’ asking prices are too high doesn’t seem to be true. That can all change in an instant, of course. Teams could just say, “Hey, we’re not the Blue Jays. We’re not selling our pitching for 75 cents on the dollar.” It’s a game that someone will undoubtedly play, but it’s a dangerous one.
There are still a few days to go to make some deals. But that’s one pitcher, maybe the biggest pitcher, that is off the market. The Yankees are lurking, as well as the Padres, Astros and several other teams, and they all know what it should take to get an arm for the stretch run. If Klentak is going to make a deal, the time to act is now.