The Mets have acquired right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for two of their top pitching prospects, left-handed pitcher Anthony Kay and right-handed pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson.
This brings up the question, what exactly did the Mets give up here?
The headlining piece is Kay, who was a Mets first-round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft and was promoted to Triple-A Syracuse after posting a 1.49 ERA for Double-A Binghamton. Kay has certainly had some inconsistencies and troubles early on in Triple-A but more recently he was starting to adjust to the new baseball that is used in Triple-A.
Kay recently fell out of the top 100 prospects in baseball as ranked by MLB Pipeline and Baseball America, but was the Mets fourth-ranked prospect and their top-ranked pitching prospect. Scouts say he still possesses the upside of being a low-end No. 3 or No. 4 starter in a big-league rotation. He should be big league ready sometime in early 2020. You can read my full deep dive on Kay here.
Woods-Richardson is a prospect with sizable upside and recently was promoted to High-A St Lucie, where he was going to be among the youngest players in the league. The Mets selected Woods-Richardson in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft and have now traded their first two picks from that draft, with Jarred Kelenic dealt to the Mariners in the offseason.
Woods-Richardson shows an advanced feel pitching for his age, allowing only 2 walks per 9 innings while striking out 11.1 per 9 for Low-A Columbia. He was ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the Mets system by MLB Pipeline. He is at minimum two seasons away from big league consideration and has mid-rotation upside.
If Woods-Richardson ends up not being able to work as a starting pitcher, his power arm would likely play up big in a bullpen role. While I think Kay is a fairly safe bet to be a No. 4-type starter, Woods-Richardson possesses more upside and is probably the prospect they'd be more likely to regret dealing down the road. You can read my full deep dive on Woods-Richardson here.
I was surprised the Blue Jays were not able to acquire a Top 100 prospect for Stroman. Purely in a vacuum, this deal really isn't bad for the Mets. They acquired a 28-year-old All-Star pitcher who is under team control through 2020. This is a clear sign that Brodie Van Wagenen and the Mets do not want to give up on contending in 2020. Stroman will be able to fill the void in the rotation as it is likely that Zack Wheeler and Jason Vargas are both not Mets in 2020. Heck, they may not be by Wednesday.
The most important thing is what is next in the plan. Do the Mets trade Noah Syndergaard? If they do, they absolutely have to hit the jackpot on the deal. Syndergaard is under team control through 2021, so there is no real rush to make a deal involving him. If they truly want to go for it in 2020, are they better off hanging on to Syndergaard? Can you get enough for Syndergaard, including some Major League-ready talent, where you can compete with Stroman taking Syndergaard's spot in the rotation? If not Syndergaard, then surely the Mets will utilize someone like Wheeler to try to replenish some of the prospect haul that they surrendered to acquire Stroman.
One thing is clear, Van Wagenen is not afraid to be aggressive and make moves. This is a definite sign that the Mets are not going into a rebuild despite likely selling some pieces, and they need to show it in actions between now and the offseason.