The Milwaukee Brewers are on the lookout for an ace this winter and it will be difficult to find one. Chris Archer may be a possibility but perhaps there is another ace to be found north of the border.
The Toronto Blue Jays have one of the best young pitchers in the game in Marcus Stroman and he is controllable for three more seasons as a Super Two player. In 2017, he posted a 3.09 ERA in 201 innings over 33 starts. He boasted a 6.0 WAR over the season and threw two complete games. We could go on and on about his stats, but simply put, he’s an ace.
Will the Blue Jays deal Stroman?
The Milwaukee Brewers have the talent to deal for Stroman, but the Toronto Blue Jays claim they won’t trade him. The Jays struggled last year and proved their roster lags behind the Yankees and Red Sox. Reaching the playoffs will be tough for the next few years. With Josh Donaldson, Marco Estrada, and J.A. Happ hitting free agency next winter, now may be a good time to consider starting a rebuild.
The best way to jump start a rebuild is to sell off the best assets possible for maximum return. They could follow the Yankees plan that turned around their franchise after dealing Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. The smart move for the Jays is to realize their impending rebuilding status and get as much as they can.
Teams like the Cardinals are known to be in pursuit of Josh Donaldson in a trade this off-season. If the Jays are willing to part ways with Donaldson, they may also be likely to listen on Marcus Stroman.
If Toronto listens on Stroman, here’s an offer David Stearns could use to interest Jays GM Ross Atkins.
What would a deal for Stroman look like?
Now this is a real blockbuster. The Milwaukee Brewers would have to give up Domingo Santana after his incredibly productive season to fill the need the Blue Jays currently have in the corner outfield. He posted a .278/.371/.505 line with 30 home runs, 85 RBIs, and 15 stolen bases last year. It will be tough to see Santana go, but he is an instant upgrade in the long term for Toronto. Dealing Santana will be necessary to get a deal done this winter.
Luis Ortiz is the Brewers third ranked prospect and had a good season at Double-A Biloxi. He joined the Brewers organization as a part of the Jonathan Lucroy trade in 2016 along with Lewis Brinson and Ryan Cordell. Ortiz is a future frontline starter and may be less than a year away from the Major Leagues.
Keston Hiura was the ninth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft and is Milwaukee’s fifth ranked prospect. Hiura’s bat is almost Major League ready right now, but his arm and lack of a long term defensive home may mean he has to stay in the Minor Leagues a bit longer to develop. But if he can go to an American League team, he can reach the Majors quickly as a designated hitter. The Jays do have Kendrys Morales for two more seasons to be their DH, but Hiura’s bat will be ready to step in at any moment.
What are the pros and cons of this trade?
In this deal, the Blue Jays get a solid corner outfielder, a potential ace, and young kid with a great bat. Toronto could also use help at second base and Hiura can provide that long term, even though he may not be able to do it right now. In giving up Santana, the Brewers may lose a potential franchise cornerstone but clear up the outfield picture. With Santana gone, Brett Phillips can move to right field and Lewis Brinson and Keon Broxton can battle for center field.
Ortiz may end up being as good of a talent as Stroman in the future, but with the Brewers playoff window beginning to open, GM David Stearns needs to get as many early shots at it as possible. Three years of Marcus Stroman guarantees the Milwaukee Brewers a great top of the starting rotation. Stroman, Chase Anderson, and Jimmy Nelson form the three-headed monster, not to mention Zach Davies making it a quartet of great starters. With prospects Brandon Woodruff and possibly Josh Hader filling out the back of the rotation, that’s a pitching group to be feared throughout baseball.
Not only is that a great starting rotation, it’s an inexpensive one as well. Nelson and Stroman are in arbitration while Anderson has a reasonable contract. Davies, Woodruff and Hader will all make minimum salary. Let’s say MLBTR’s projections of Nelson’s and Stroman’s arbitration salaries are accurate. That means Nelson will earn $4.7 million and Stroman will cost $7.2 million. Anderson is under contract for $4.75 million. That’s an entire starting rotation for under $18 million. You will not find a better rotation in baseball for such a small amount of money.
With starting pitching like that, combined with the great lineup the Brewers already have, Craig Counsell’s group should make the playoffs each of the next three years. Even with the loss of Santana in the middle of that lineup, the offense is still in good hands with Travis Shaw, Eric Thames, and a healthy Ryan Braun as established starters and youngsters Brett Phillips, Orlando Arcia, and Lewis Brinson also standing out as big contributors for the lineup.
Brewers fans may scoff at the idea of trading Santana and Ortiz for Stroman, but dealing for a young, controllable, and inexpensive ace is costly. If Stroman can come into Milwaukee and contribute and lead the Brewers to a World Series victory in the next three years, no one will question that the trade was worth it.
This trade is a blockbuster and shows the rest of the league that the Milwaukee Brewers are going for it. If Toronto decides to put Stroman on the market, an offer like this from David Stearns should be enough to convince the Blue Jays to pull the trigger.