5'7" Marcus Stroman Is the Swag-Filled Ace Prize of MLB Trade Season

Jacob Shafer@@jacobshaferFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2019

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 07: Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays says a prayer on the mound before pitching in the first inning during MLB game action against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Rogers Centre on June 7, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

For a guy who's listed at a scant 5'7", Marcus Stroman is standing tall on the 2019 MLB trade market. 

The Toronto Blue Jays are more than 20 games under .500 and buried in fourth place in the American League East. Only the woeful Baltimore Orioles cushion them from the division basement.

It's past time for a rebuild north of the border, and Stroman is the Jays' trade-season crown jewel.

In 104.2 innings, the right-hander boasts a 3.18 ERA. After finishing eighth in Cy Young Award balloting and winning a Gold Glove in 2017, he's headed for his first All-Star Game this year.

He's also 28 years old and under club control through 2020. Pitching-hungry contenders should be lining up.

To add a caveat: Stroman left his June 29 start with a cramp in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. That said, he isn't expected to miss any action.

Assuming the injury is merely a speed bump, Stroman ought to be the shiniest starting pitching prize between now and the July 31 trade deadline.

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 18:  Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches in the fifth inning during a MLB game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rogers Centre on June 18, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants' Madison Bumgarner is a postseason legend, but he's in a contract year and owns a 4.02 ERA.

The Washington Nationals' Max Scherzer is fun to dream on, but it seems unlikely he'll be available this summer despite the Nats' subpar record.

The Cleveland Indians could dangle right-hander Trevor Bauer, but they're above .500 and in the thick of the wild-card chase.

Stroman, meanwhile, checks all the boxes. He plays for a club that's sunk in the standings and needs to hang a "for sale" sign. He's on the right side of 30 and more than a rental. He's performing like a top-of-the-rotation piece.

And don't forget the intangible yet undeniable swag Bleacher Report's Scott Miller highlighted in 2017.

"I can't honestly think of a day I've been around him when he's down in the dumps or even keel," then-Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons said, per Miller. "He has lots of energy. He knows he's good. And another thing is, he loves the game of baseball."

Added Stroman, "I've always been that guy with a little chip on my shoulder who felt like he was going to get the job done in any circumstance."

A confident, energetic ace with an abiding love for the game? Who isn't trading for that dude in the heat of a pennant race?

Chris Carlson/Associated Press

Stroman will have suitors aplenty if and when Toronto makes him available. One obvious destination: the New York Yankees.

The Yanks are in first place in the American League East despite battling a raft of injuries, including to ace Luis Severino (shoulder), who's out until after the All-Star break. Adding Stroman's skill and energy could propel New York deep into October.

Picture this same scenario against the Boston Red Sox, but with Stroman on the Yankees:

You're tuning in for that all day, every day.

A native of Medford, New York, Stroman didn't mince words about his desire to don pinstripes.

"I love it," Stroman said of hypothetically plying his trade in the Big Apple, per The Athletic's Lindsey Adler. "New York's like the Mecca of the world, right? I love excitement. I love bright lights. I love competition. I love pressure."

The Yankees won't be the only squad who picks up the phone and dials Toronto general manager Ross Atkins. Other teams, including the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Angels, could use his services. Really, it'd be easier to name the contenders who couldn't benefit from a Stroman addition...because the answer is essentially none.

However it goes down, Stroman will wear new laundry on or before July 31. Bank on it.

"It doesn't seem like I'm going to be signed here to a long-term deal," he said on June 18, via Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith. "It's just something you have to come to terms with."

The Blue Jays can gain some MiLB chips. Another team can gain a high-shelf hurler. And we'll all gain the realistic hope of Stroman back under the postseason spotlight.

He may be shortbut there will be no shortage of interest.

         

All statistics current as of Monday and courtesy of Baseball Reference.

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