In a trade-deadline twist with a strong Long Island theme, the Mets acquired Marcus Stroman and cash considerations from the Blue Jays for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson on Sunday.
“Marcus is a dynamic talent who will bring tremendous passion to our team and energy our fans will truly appreciate,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement. “As a Long Island native, we believe that Marcus will thrive playing in New York.”
The Mets have until 4 p.m. Wednesday — baseball’s hard-line trade deadline — to turn this deal into the first step of a larger in-season roster-reworking process. They don’t have an open rotation spot yet for Stroman, but pending free agents Zack Wheeler and Jason Vargas (team option/buyout for 2020) are candidates to be traded. Though Noah Syndergaard has been a popular target for other teams, a Mets source said over the weekend that the club expects to keep him through the deadline, barring an overwhelming offer.
Amid all of that movement and potential movement, the Mets (50-55) have sneaked into the fringes of the playoff picture. With a fourth consecutive victory Sunday, matching their season-best winning streak, they are six games out of the second National League wild-card spot, trailing six teams. They are 10-5 since the All-Star break.
Stroman, scheduled to be a free agent after the 2020 season, has been the subject of many trade rumors in recent weeks, with the Yankees, looking for rotation help, considered one potential landing spot. Instead, it’s the Mets, purported trade-deadline sellers, who have added the Long Island native.
The Mets took a similar approach in 2017, when they weren’t contenders but acquired reliever AJ Ramos with an eye toward the next season.
The addition of Stroman bolsters what was an on-paper strength for the Mets coming into the season and what has been an on-field strength, especially recently: the rotation. Stroman, a first-time All-Star this month, has a career-best 2.96 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 21 starts this year. He also gets grounders on 56.3 percent of his batted balls — the second-highest rate among qualified pitchers in 2019 — which might not jell well with the Mets’ infield defense, statistically one of the worst in baseball.
Stroman, 28, was born in Medford and graduated from Patchogue-Medford High before going to Duke. The Blue Jays picked him in the first round of the 2012 draft. His joining the Mets means a reunion with lefthander Steven Matz, a Stony Brook native and Ward Melville alumnus. They played together from ages 13-18 on the Paveco Storm travel team and famously pitched against each other on April 16, 2009, in front of representatives of all 30 major-league teams just weeks before that year’s draft.
“NEW YORK! Where I was born,” Stroman wrote in a tweet, which also included an old photo of his toddler self wearing a Mets jacket. “Where my heart lies. Where my family resides. Crazy excited for this part of my journey. Some things were meant to be!”
Acquiring Stroman comes at a significant cost for the Mets and Van Wagenen, who again showed a willingness to part with prospects to try to improve the major-league team.
This time it was lefthander Kay and righthander Woods Richardson, the Mets’ Nos. 4 and 6 prospects, respectively (according to MLB Pipeline’s rankings).
Kay, also a Ward Melville product, dominated for Double-A Binghamton (1.49 ERA) before moving up to Triple-A Syracuse, where he posted a 6.61 ERA in seven starts. The 24-year-old was the Mets’ closest-to-the-majors starting pitcher prospect.
Woods Richardson, 18, the team’s second-round draft pick last year, was promoted to advanced Class A St. Lucie on Sunday before this deal went down. He was 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 20 starts with low Class A Columbia.
Three former Mets draftees played in the Futures Game in Cleveland three weeks ago: Kay, plus Jarred Kelenic and Long Island native Justin Dunn, both of whom Van Wagenen sent to Seattle as part of the Edwin Diaz/Robinson Cano trade last offseason. Baseball America recently ranked the Mets’ farm system, which now has subtracted two of its best arms, 26th out of 30.
The Stro Show
Marcus Stroman was a first-time All-Star this season
W L ERA GS IP SO WHIP
6 11 2.96 21 124.2 99 1.23
Arbitration eligible in 2020, free agent in 2021