One of baseball’s supreme pitching Black Knights is returning home. Long Island native, Marcus Stroman was traded to the New York Mets on Sunday for a pair of top pitching prospects, Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson.
Stroman, a 5-foot-8 righty is 47-45 with a 3.76 ERA in six big league seasons and when he’s rocking on all cylinders, he’s one of the best in the game and a black baseball general repping the Tri-State.
He grew up in Medford, near Mets starter Steven Matz, about 50 miles from Citi Field. Stroman graduated from Patchogue-Medford High before going to Duke.
According to Newsday, “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.”
As part of the deal, New York gets $1.5 million from the Blue Jays which cancels out much of the $2,506,452 remaining on Stroman’s $7.4 million salary this year. The diminutive hurler is eligible for free agency until after the 2020 season.
The trade came as a surprise to both Mets and Blue Jays fans. Much of Blue Jays nation took to Twitter to express their unhappiness with the deal.
Trading a pitcher who is a free agent after 2020 from a rebuilding team makes sense. However, trading Stroman, who wants to play here and not extending him instead, is not only incomprehensible, but is also the worst move made by Shapiro and Atkins BY FAR. #BlueJays #StroShow
— Scott BlueJaysAlways (@BluejaysAlways) July 28, 2019
Stroman’s name has been mentioned as a possible trade piece, but it was believed he would go to a contender with deep pockets, who would be willing to sign him to a long-term deal. Like the Yankees.
— Jason Sweigart ?? (@Swagatron251) July 28, 2019
The 2019 All-Star was a fan favorite in Toronto and well-respected for his resilience, fighting spirit, performance, and his community service.
— SickKids Foundation (@sickkids) July 29, 2019
He’s definitely going to bring some excitement, hometown support and fire to Citi Field. Stroman is not only a skilled pitcher but a showman on the mound with an elite competitive drive that allows him to surpass the limitations of his 5-8, 180-pound frame.
Who can forget his masterful performance against Puerto Rico in the 2017 WBC in front of a record crowd in Los Angeles?
Stroman was cold, gritty, and immaculate in his execution and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.
The plan for the Mets is to not trade Stroman, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan. The team is increasingly unlikely to sign pitcher Zack Wheeler to an extension and there is a strong likelihood New York deals at least one of Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, sources said.
So getting Stroman, a first-time All-Star this season with a 2.96 ERA that is fifth-best in the American League, is solid insurance.
Make Stroman A Shutdown Closer
To the Mets’ credit, when Stroman is healthy he is one of the MLB’s more dominant moundsmen. Adding Stroman to the mix definitely gives them a starting rotation to rival any in the league.
What they really need to do is make him the closer.
Stroman has only started more than 30 games twice in his six-year career and the 28-year-old has some solid seasons left in his arm. The Mets have one of the worst bullpens in the league and Stroman’s persona is built for ht closer role. He has the special stuff and can handle the pressures of getting the 27th out.
He would absolutely thrive in that role and it would less taxing on his arm and body. This is Tom Gordon or Dennis Eckersley reincarnated if the Mets play it right.
Being born here only heightens the instant connection he will have with Mets fans. If you’re strictly looking at the numbers, then maybe you can question the Mets logic here.
However, if you truly grasp what kind of magnetic personality Stroman is and how he brings a pitbull mentality to the party that a New Yorker can truly appreciate, then you’ll understand why the Mets — with all due respect to Peter Alonzo and Robinson Cano –needed a cultural shift, a face of the franchise and a player that has that “it” factor.
Stroman can provide all of the above.