One of the names that has consistently been rumored as an Astros potential trade target is Marcus Stroman. I started to explore him in more depth yesterday and it was said that the Padres were close to a deal, luckily news broke that this was not the case.
So with the off-season at somewhat of a standstill, I figured it was worth taking a look at Stroman and to see if he would be a good potential fit to help fill the void from Keuchel (potentially), Morton, and McCuller’s departures from the rotation this season.
Who is Marcus Stroman
Stroman, 27, is a 5’8 180lb Right Hander pitcher, who was drafted 22nd overall in the 2012 draft. As you can imagine, Stroman has consistently faced challenges in regards to his height being a limiting factor as a pitcher, and is one of only 6 pitchers under 5’10 to start in major league baseball according to Wikipedia.
Stroman was the ace pitcher for Duke during his college career, and had a meteoric rise to the majors. Here was the take from John Sickels back in 2014:
“Stroman is short for a right-hander, listed at 5-9, 185. There’s nothing short with his stuff however: he gets his sinking fastball up to 94-96 MPH. He has a cutter and a traditional slider, along with a curveball and changeup, giving him a full arsenal that would fit well in a rotation. His command and control are also significant assets, and his ability to throw quality strikes with multiple pitches puts him a cut above most prospects. His pure athleticism is also a plus, making him a superior fielder. It should also help keep him healthy. There are no holes in his sabermetrics and on his own terms Stroman looks like a potential number two starter.”
For his career, Stroman holds a 41-34 record with a 3.91 ERA in 665 IP. With that said, his underlying stats show a rosier picture with a 3.62 FIP, 3.48 xFIP, and 3.66 SIERA, indicating his performance is probably more of a mid-3’s pitcher than one at the top of the scale. He has been a solid performer from a WAR perspective, with 3 of his 5 seasons coming in over 3 WAR, and the other 2 seasons being significantly cut short due to injuries.
Stroman had an excellent year in 2017, coming in 8th for the Cy Young and winning the Gold Glove award. (Great video as to why right below)
As for his arsenal, Stroman throws 6 pitches fairly consistently, which while it’s great to have a diversified arsenal, may be a potential component to some of his struggles. Let’s take a deeper look:
Here is the details on his 2018 arsenal
Sinker – 43.8% of pitches, 92.3 MPH, 2,313 rpm, .381 xWOBA, 16.2% Whiff%
Slider – 29.9% of pitches, 85.2 MPH, 2,659 rpm, .241 xWOBA, 32.7% Whiff %
Cutter – 14.8% of pitches, 90.6 MPH, 2,512 rpm, .303 xWOBA, 18.0% Whiff %
4-Seamer – 5.9% of pitches, 92.5 MPH, 2,379 rpm, .282 xWOBA, 23.1% Whiff %
Change-up–4.6% of pitches, 82.7 MPH, 1.753 rpm, .342 xWOBA, 27.6% Whiff %
Curve – 1% of pitches, 74.9 MPH, 2,507, .172 xWOBA, 28.6% Whiff %
I do want to point out that on some of the low % pitches, the xWOBA will be skewed due to small sample sizes. Fangraphs shows his change up and fastball (grouped together Sinker/4-Seamer) as negative value pitches. Stroman does post elite spin rates, and has good speed differential between his pitches.
Stroman does provide elite ground ball percentages, coming in at exactly 60% for his career. (League average is 44%)
He seems like a strong candidate for Strom to utilize his strengths including elite spin rate to get the maximum results. Being a ground ball pitcher, I believe he would also gain an improvement from a team shifting behind him, the Blue Jays did not shift at all vs right handers and only 9% against lefties while he was pitching in 2018. They ranked 21st overall putting the shift in play 13.7% of the time vs the Astros 37.3%.
Depth Charts projects a 12-11, 4.14 ERA across 196 innings for Stroman in 2019, good for 2.7 WAR. Their xFIP again comes in a bit better at a 3.89 ERA.
Stroman is under control for 2 additional years, with an estimated salary of $7.2 Million for 2019.
What would it take?
This is always a very subjective component, since trading seems to be almost as much art as science. With that said, we will look at excess value based on projections which I will just double based on the 2 years. A very inexact science, so I am completely open to discussion on fair value.
Figuring 2.7 war x 2 years x $10 Mil / war figure = $54 Million in Value
Est. 2019 arb – $7.2 Mil + Est. 2020 arb – $12.6 Mil = $19.8 Mil in Cost
Total excess value – $34.2 Million in Excess Value
You can use Fangraphs Prospect Valuation and their article on putting a dollar value to prospects outside of the Top 100, to work backwards to build something that comes to a similar value. But $34 Million is a fairly significant surplus value, so the trade package will sting regardless. It would be close to a 1-for-1 swap with Alvarez (est. 30 mil) or much more realistically a package bundled around someone like Cionel Perez ($17 Mil) + a few complimentary pieces that add up to the total value.
Well there’s a lot to take in. The once ace of the Toronto Blue Jays has lost some of his luster, although arguably you could say the same about Cole before his trade to the Astros.
I would love to have Stroman on the team, I think he would outperform the projections that Depth Chart has listed with pitching under the tutelage of Brent Strom and the Astros defense supporting him. From a cursory glance, his spin rates and ground ball tendencies seem to fit well, though his K/9 may limit his upside comparatively.
As a #3/#4 Starter, Stroman would be one of the best in the league, and he would fortify our rotation and alleviate some of the stress for the dire need to extend or re-sign Cole/Verlander after this season.
From a culture perspective, Stroman seems like a great fit, with fun exchanges ongoing between him and McCullers regularly on twitter. He is extremely passionate and you have to think that Altuve would appreciate his Height Doesn’t Measure Heart charity organization for at risk kids.
My challenge is that the Astros truthfully don’t NEED another pitcher. Adding one could be very beneficial but there’s always the aspect of weighing current vs future value. In 2019, the Astros should not have an issue taking the AL West. Stroman of course would also be a huge asset if one of our key pitchers did sustain an injury, or even just as an addition alone, but do we trade away strong prospects for that reassurance?
If the Astros were able to swing a Cole-esque type trade, utilizing some of our fringe MLB players and alleviate our roster crunch moving some other prospects, without taking one of our core prospects, it makes a lot of sense.
What do you think? Would you trade for Stroman if you were Luhnow? If so, what would you be comfortable giving up?
Should the Astros pursue a Stroman Trade?
283 votes total