With the Blue Jays looking to add starting pitching this offseason, the hot stove has been churning out a number of names. Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, Matt Garza have been linked to the Blue Jays in recent weeks, but the name getting the most attention currently is the Chicago Cubs’ Jeff Samardzija.
According to MLB’s Bruce Levine, the Blue Jays are putting a package together of young prospects in order to obtain the right-handed Samardzija. Not long after, the twitterverse began to explode with speculation:
If this Samardzija/Jays thing gets legs, have to think Stroman would be involved after his showing in the AFL
— jasoncollette (@jasoncollette) November 24, 2013
Stroman is an undersized right handed pitcher, picked 22nd overall with the Blue Jays’ first pick of the 2012 draft. Don’t let his size fool you, however. Stroman has big league stuff right now. This season, playing in AA New Hampshire, Stroman put together a very strong season: 111.2 IP, 129 K, 27 BB, 99 H for a 3.30 ERA. He finished up 2013 in the Arizona Fall League, holding opposing hitters to a .186 average while striking out 10.03/9IP.
Kyle Boddy of the Hardball Times had this to say about Stroman:
I assume that Stroman will spend a few months in Triple-A in 2014 with the idea of delaying his service time in addition to getting him some extra work as a starter. Not that he really needs it.
My bet is on him proving that the detractors who talked him down in 2012 were wrong. His stuff and his command were comparable to anyone in the draft—even Kevin Gausman and Michael Wacha (who had seriously diminished stuff and looked nothing like he does now, I might add).
Stroman dropped because of myths he’s about to shatter. The issue, of course, is that Lincecum already did this and we haven’t yet learned our lesson. Fortunately, lessons that go unlearned allow for market inefficiencies to be exploited by teams who are willing to see the truth.
Sounds pretty good, no? Even the cranky Keith Law thinks Stroman is ready for the bigs:
Yes he does. Belonged in the majors in September “@harrypav: seriously, Stroman looks like a big leaguer”
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) November 8, 2013
So let’s compare Stroman to Jeff Samardzija. The hard-throwing Cubs righty put up decent numbers in 2013 – a 9.0k/9IP with a 3.3BB/9IP. With that said, Samardzija plays in the National League, therefore facing the pitcher in the #9 spot usually, at least, two times through the order. Though his fastball routinely sits at 95mph and touches 97, it’s straight and flat – how will that play in the AL East in the homer dome?
His ERA+ (park adjusted, 100 is the league average) in 2013 was 91. That makes him a below average pitcher. In the NL, no less. Sure, I’d like to have his 200+ IP, but is it worth giving up Stroman for? I don’t think so.
In addition, Samardzija is eligible for free agency in two years. Stroman’s service clock hasn’t begun to tick yet.
I’m not saying I’m not willing to give up Stroman, but Stroman alone would garner a bigger get than just Samardzija. If the Cubs were to add Dioner Navarro (correction: Navarro is a free agent) and the Jays added a few complementary pieces, only then could I see this trade as having legs.
Is it possible to get Samardzija without parting with either Sanchez or Stroman? Probably not.
— Gruber’s Mullet (@GrubersMullet) November 24, 2013
Jays fans are not above panicking and who can blame them. Giving up Sanchez for Samardzija is a bit much, however. Aaron Sanchez is the Toronto Blue Jays’ #1 prospect with ace potential. Ranked #4 on MLB’s AFL Top 20 prospects ranking (and #1 starter), Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo had this to say about the 6’4″ right-hander:
The best starter in the AFL, Sanchez dominated hitters. He has top-of-the-rotation stuff and is ready for a move to the upper levels of Toronto’s system.
So no, I don’t see the Blue Jays giving up Sanchez for below-average Samardzija. Carry on.
Featured image courtesy of Stephen Green. Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference unless otherwise indicated.