After weeks of speculation, the Toronto Blue Jays have traded their longest-tenured player and only all-star.
Marcus Stroman and cash considerations are headed to the New York Mets in exchange for Simeon Woods Richardson and Anthony Kay.
The 28-year-old exploded onto the scene in 2014 and has been a staple of the Blue Jays rotation ever since. Stroman is in the midst of one of his best seasons with a 2.96 ERA and a strong 3.52 FIP - a performance that’s been worth 2.9 Wins Above Replacement.
New York is getting a veteran starter with a history of consistency, durability, and playoff success. Although Stroman doesn’t post gaudy strikeout rates, he’s a bullpen saver who works deep into games by pitching efficiently and keeping the ball on the ground.
The Blue Jays moved the right-hander because he’s only under team control through 2020 and doesn’t fit their competitive window barring a costly extension they were clearly disinclined to give him. The decision to trade Stroman as opposed to extending his contract will be heavily scrutinized if the Blue Jays are unable to develop or acquire top-of-the-rotation starters in the next few years.
Toronto is clearly hoping Kay and Woods Richardson can be guys that fit that description. Kay is the Mets’ top-ranked pitching prospect according to MLB Pipeline. The 24-year-old is a 2016 first-round pick who sports a fastball that tends to sit in the 92-94 mph range and a plus curveball, rounding his repertoire out with a changeup.
Kay is a Tommy John surgery survivor with just 220.1 pro innings under his belt despite his age, but he’s also a polished starter who’s close to major-league ready. This season he’s excelled at Double-A with a 1.49 ERA and 2.72 FIP in 66.1 innings while struggling at Triple-A with a 6.61 ERA and matching 6.23 FIP in 31.1 innings.
Woods Richardson is Kay’s polar opposite as a raw 18-year-old who is years from reaching the majors. A second-round pick in 2018 who signed for an over-slot $1.85 million, the right-hander throws a fastball with a velocity around 93 mph that he can get into the mid 90’s as well as a curve and a changeup. He’s been excellent at the Single-A level for the Mets in his first taste of full-season ball this year with a 4.25 ERA in 78.1 innings with an elite 2.55 FIP fuelled by an eye-popping 11.14 K/9. He’s the Mets’ third-ranked pitching prospect per MLB Pipleline.
By acquiring Kay and Woods-Richardson, the Blue Jays get a mix of ceiling and floor, and - if everything breaks right - two future members of their rotation. Kay could even arrive sooner than later if he gets hot at Triple-A.
Stroman won’t just be missed in Toronto for his contributions on the mound. The all-star was a fan favourite in the city due to the way he seemed to embrace Canada and a variety of entertaining antics from shimmy celebrations to opportunistic quick pitching.
With Stroman gone, Aaron Sanchez, Ryan Tepera, Devon Travis and Justin Smoak are the only Blue Jays remaining from the club’s 2015 and 2016 playoff appearances.
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