The Toronto Blue Jays sit 14-15 on the season and just called up the #1 prospect in all of baseball with the arrival of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently reported on MLB Network that the club would be looking to trade veterans in advance of this year’s trade deadline and right handed pitcher Marcus Stroman was one of the key figures mentioned. The veteran scribe said, “It’s going to be really interesting to watch the Jays over the next few months because what I believe they’re going to do-what I’ve been told they’re going to do-is try to trade Stroman, Sanchez, Smoke and others to get more young talent in Vladdy’s age range and service class and then build up that way.”
Marcus Stroman was the #22 overall pick in the 2012 major league baseball draft out of Duke University. The 5’8″ 180 pound hurler was billed as the most major league ready pitcher in the draft class but detractors persisted. Stroman is short and his fastball was mostly flat for the Blue Devils. Comparisons to former big leaguer Tom Gordon tasked him with significant reliever risk and many surmised that the bullpen would be his ultimate destination.
Stroman still displays the same fiery demeanor along with his high energy delivery but his stuff is more refined. While he’s not a huge strikeout pitcher, he has turned his once straight fastball into a put away pitch that tails away from left handers. His hard slider is used frequently and is plus while widely considered to be the best of his six pitch arsenal. Marcus also fields his position well and won the Rawlings Gold Glove Award in 2017. Stroman has trademarked the phrase “Height Doesn’t Measure Heart” and he owns a clothing line of the same name.
The former ACC standout has also battled numerous injuries over the course of his career. He tore the ACL in his left knee back in 2015 and faced blister issues and shoulder fatigue in 2016, which ended up being the best season of his young career. Stroman compiled 3.4 fWAR during that campaign. The righty struggled in 2018 in 102.1 innings of 5.54 ERA ball. He did compile 1.4 fWAR due to a 3.91 FIP and has bounced back nicely to start 2019. Spanning 6 starts and just under 38 innings pitched, Stroman has posted a 1.43 ERA with a sparkling 2.31 FIP while striking out almost nine batters per nine. He’s also top three in ground ball percentage over the past three seasons as well.
Does It Make Sense for the White Sox?
Stroman is making $7.4 million this season and has one more season of arbitration control in 2020. Back in 2012, it was reported that the organization showed significant interest in the 5’8″ right hander in the lead up to the amateur draft. Despite the rumored interest, the White Sox decided to take Texas high schooler Courtney Hawkins instead. Stroman could be a fit for the White Sox but his contract control isn’t the most ideal for what the organization is attempting to accomplish.
Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are all tasked with developing at the major league level and Michael Kopech and Dylan Cease are expected to become rotation fixtures for 2020 and beyond. Guys like Alec Hansen, Bernardo Flores and Jimmy Lambert could fill out a future rotation but it’s more likely that the White Sox will have to spend money to bring in pitching from outside of the organization to supplement the young core.
The White Sox have been intrigued in the past and Stroman is available to them. The club isn’t a contender in the terrible division in which they reside and they are expected to sell off more parts prior to the July 31st trade deadline. Rick Hahn could decide to serve two masters though. There are no rules prohibiting a team from both buying and selling simultaneously. The biggest question to be answered is what it would take for Mark Shapiro to pull the trigger on Toronto’s end. While the White Sox would likely look to extend control, the trade package would reflect the player’s present contract.
With 1.5 years of contract control the value that Marcus Stroman will provide has its limits. There’s also a chance that a contender would be willing to pay the Jays more for his services than the rebuilding White Sox would. These are all factors worth exploring though. Some have also questioned how viable Stroman’s addition to the locker room at 35th and Shields would be. In August, 2017, Stroman was involved in a minor skirmish with Tim Anderson in which words were exchanged, benches were cleared and social media was in a frenzy. Those negative thoughts have since been squashed however with the 5’8″ right hander offering his full support for Anderson’s most recent cause.
Stroman has more value than just on the diamond as well. Adding another player that happens to be African American in a sport severely lacking similar stars is a benefit to an organization like the White Sox as it pertains to their geographic location. It also helps that Stroman is an active participant in the community and his savviness on social media is good for the sport. His presence in the Chicago sports’ landscape would be an interesting one.
Chicago’s American League club wouldn’t move any of their big four (Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech, Luis Robert, Nick Madrigal) in a trade like this and that could ultimately be a dealbreaker for the Blue Birds. Something centered around the outfield surplus that the Pale Hose have procured could be a possibility though. Marcus Stroman will likely be traded this summer. The Chicago White Sox should have some level of interest. What level and how likely consummation would be will have to wait a few months though.
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