The Cincinnati Reds are reportedly interested in Toronto Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman. Jon Morosi of MLB Network was the first to report this.

Marcus Stroman is an interesting guy to look at for the Reds. He’s under team control for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He will be arbitration eligible for each of those two years. In 2018 he made $6.5M and his salary will increase from there.

With that said, his salary probably won’t increase a ton for the 2019 season. The reason for that is because his 2018 season was not a good one. The 27-year-old right hander posted a 5.54 ERA in 102.1 innings for the Blue Jays last year. He posted a career worst walk rate, though it was still a reasonably solid 3.2 batters per-9 innings pitched. But his strikeout rate was the lowest of his career, just 6.8 batters per-9 innings pitched. Those two led to, you guessed it, a career worst 2.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

When he’s been at his best, he’s been an above-average starter who eats innings. In 2016 and 2017 he threw 204.0 and 201.0 innings. That came with a 4.37 ERA in 2016, but a 3.09 ERA in 2017. The difference between the two seasons, on a peripheral standpoint, was almost non-existent. His walk rate, hit rate, home run rate, and strikeout rates were nearly identical across the board. The big difference was stranding 10% more runners in 2017 than in 2016. For his career, his strand rate is 71%. In 2017 when he posted his career year, that was 78%.

What stands out with Marcus Stroman, though, is that he’s an elite ground ball rate pitcher. The last time his groundball rate was under 60% was back in his rookie season in 2014. Last year it was 62.1%. Among pitchers with at least 100 innings last season that was EASILY the best mark in the league. Clayton Richard was second best at 56.8%.

There are things to like when it comes to what Marcus Stroman brings to the table. He doesn’t really walk guys, historically. And he’s a huge groundball guy. And in two of the last three years, he’s eaten up a whole lot of innings, too.

But the flip side is that there are some things that are concerning, too. After two years of 200+ innings, he missed two months in 2018. His walk rate jumped up and his strikeout rate declined. . There may be a planned reason for it, but both his change up and slider lost 3 MPH from the start of the year to the end of the year in 2018.

As always, the question is about what the cost of acquisition is. Two years of team control for a guy coming off of a year where he posted an ERA of 5.54 where he was also injured and miss a lot of time, in theory, shouldn’t cost a ton. But this feels like one of those situations where you would pay more than you should, in theory, for someone coming off of a year like he just did.

Buying low on a player is not a bad idea. But it’s only buying low if you are actually paying low. All of the projection systems are not out yet, but the ones that are, seem to put him in the #3/4 caliber pitcher range. Marcels projections have him at a 4.12 ERA and 131.0 innings pitched. The Steamer projections have him with a 4.14 ERA, but with 194.0 innings. Both project about a league average ERA, but with big differences in innings. The move to the National League could give him a bump in ERA in the right direction. But pitching in Great American Ballpark could also bump it in the other direction.

Marcus Stroman isn’t necessarily a bad target for the Cincinnati Reds. The team desperately needs to upgrade their rotation. The 2018 version of Stroman, though, would have actually downgraded it, though. Keeping that in mind while trying to acquire him should be on the minds of the Reds. Trading for “what if’s” rather than what happened usually isn’t a good strategy. If the team can acquire him in a true “buy low” situation, it would probably be a wise move. But if they have to give up valuable assets to acquire a pitcher who just posted a 5.54 ERA in 102.1 innings, it’s a tough pill to swallow, even if it could eventually work out.

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29 Responses

  1. Fish

    I think my standpoint on a lot of these pitchers is the same: I’m ok with the reds adding an arm as long as they don’t have to move one of their top 5 prospects. There’s value in 2 years of stroman but I don’t expect the reds to seriously contend next year (maybe 2020) so it’s not worth taking future parts.

  2. Norwood Nate

    Stroman is another guy I thought would be a solid trade acquisition as he probably doesn’t require one of our top tier prospects to acquire. I see him as a pretty viable bounce back candidate. Would love to add him if the price is right.

  3. Wes

    I’d rather trade for Stroman vs resigning harvey. If they bring in 2 starters he’s a great second choice. You will not be buying low on Stroman however. It will cost a lot. I wouldn’t give up any prospect in Doug’s top 5 for him but 2 from 6-10 range and I’d do it a 1/2 of heartbeat.

    • Colorado Red

      I am not that sold.
      But 1 in the 6 – 10 range,
      and 1 in the 11 – 15 range, I would do.
      Expect Siani, I really like him
      (note, using MLB to 100)

  4. Joe

    I lI’ve th idea of buying low on gray n Stroman n keeping our big 3. They would definitely upgrade n slide in as our 1n 3 starters with Castillo in between.. I feel Castillo is Gona have a big year coming up he’s jus too good n has th nasty fb change combo. I’m thinkin 202innings 244ks 3.02 era under 1whip but b4 he does that we need to give him th Suarez extension special

    • MK

      I agree Joe you always want to buy low, whether a stock, bond or pitcher. The Blue Jays have been very successful with Latin power hitters who have been somewhat disappointing, Wonder if an Aquino would be attractive to them in trade.

  5. Kap

    I honestly love seei g all this involvemebnt with good players. For the first time since 2013, I’m starting to get a little hope

  6. Kong

    So the Reds front office wizards are focusing trading their furture for pitchers that suck. Sounds about right.

    • Redsvol

      I’m going to see who they trade and who they trade for before we – and maybe even see them pitch – before I start dishing out disappointment. This will be the first time DW has been given a chance as the leader to procure real talent. I’m willing to be patient this year given the pitching situation he inherited 2 years ago.

      Its fun to see the reds connected to talented players after several years of inability to spend. Nice to be connected to AJ Pollock and Marcus Stroman instead of Scott Feldman, Tim Adleman and Bronson Arroyo.

      • Oldtimer

        Feldman had similar numbers as Reds SP in 2017 to Stroman as SP in 2018. Neither is great. Mid to end of rotation SP.

  7. kevinz

    AFL championship game on at 3 on the MLB network for anyone interested

  8. Scottya

    Glad to hear their discussing Stroman, like Gray he is not as good as: Paxton, Corbin, Ray, Syndergard, Carrasco, Kluber. So the trade package for Stroman would have to be significantly less than for those #1’s.

    Stroman’s 18′ metrics, 3.91 fip, 3.84 xfip, 4.04 sierra were surprisingly really good. The Jays would be foolish to trade him based on his era (5.54). They will likely ask for what a pitcher with a 4.10 era with two years of control would yield.

    Stroman would be a hard sell for the general public fan (5.54 era and all).

    • Doug Gray

      Likewise, the Reds would be foolish to trade for him based on his “not what actually happened on the field” numbers like FIP/xFIP/SIERRA.

      There’s got to be some give-and-take there – but the Reds would not be smart to trade for him based on “what if”.

      • Scottya

        Interestingly in 54.4 innings from 5-1 to 7-27, stroman had a 3.48 era. He had shoulder fatigue and had an 8.81 era in the month of april and with a blister his last two starts yielded 9 earned runs in 5.1 innings. The shoulder fatigue is a Red Flag.

        If the Reds trade for Stroman this offseason, it’s going to be based on the “what if” i.e. the peripherals, projections of performance and a likelihood of his performance returning to his expected performance (FIP, XFIP, SIERRA).

  9. Stock

    Action. That is what I am waiting for. Good news is that what has been talked about recently is all good. Harvey, Gio, Lance Lynn, Wade Miley or some other has been is probably what we will sign.

  10. Jim

    I don’t see him EVER as a #1/2 SP. Need another 4/5? Well yes we do but, why waste resources on a guy who might be a swing man on a Championship caliber club. Not saying the Reds are that type of club.
    I’m ok with Gray or a mid level 2yr FA contract.
    I have faith in Castillo and Mahle to take the ball and keep us in the game every 5th day but no one else on the roster. Hope Disco gets back to what he did a few yrs ago. Maybe Finn will comeback with his FB and a better attitude.
    I kind of like the FA coaches we got. Proven winners with a plan.

    • Norwood Nate

      You may be correct that he’s not going to be viewed as a #1/2 type starting pitcher. (Although he finished 8th in CY voting for 2017, so some may see him as that guy at his ceiling).
      But it doesn’t have to be either #1/2 or #4/5. I believe he’s an ideal #3, mid rotation guy who can play up some games to a TOR guy, and then have games where he doesn’t have his best stuff. His 3.91 FIP and 3.84 xFIP suggest there was some bad luck compared to his actual 5.54 ERA last season. His previous seasons in FIP and xFIP are much more consistent (though largely better) with last year’s production than his ERA was compared to previous seasons.

      Most consider Castillo to have TOR potential. Yet his FIP (4.32) and xFIP 3.69 suggest he’s not there yet. Starting the season Castillo will be 26 and Stroman will be 27 (will turn 28 in May). Slot those guys in as the #2 and #3 spots in the rotation, go get a TOR starter through trade or FA, let Disco be your #4 and one of our young internal guys (Mahle, Stephenson, Reed, Romano, Lorenzen) fills the #5 spot. To me that seems like a solid rotation.

  11. Tom

    I’d offer injured players with upside left, for example: Blandino, Finnegan and Rainey for Stroman.

      • Tom

        I think it’s funny they want to trade an injured pitcher. In the Latos for DeSclafani deal, who would you rather be? Cincy or Miami?

  12. Nathan

    I think people are missing that when healthy, stroman is an ace. The kid is filthy, and comes with what I believe is 3 years of control. If we could land him, he would easily be our ace and would be the #2 arm in our rotation this year. The guy is a monster.

  13. AirborneJayJay

    Nothing wrong with pursuing Stroman. The blister issues affected several pitchers in MLB last year due to the new leather being used for the ball and the new stitching. The shoulder issue is new for Stroman, but it may have been the result of him altering his delivery some to compensate for the blister issue. It was said last year that Stroman had a very severe blister issue.
    I wouldn’t worry to much about Stroman’s health. He is set for a major rebound in 2019.
    Even Syndergaard was on the DL for a long stint in 2018.