Even though inter-divisional trades are rare and hard to come by, the New York Yankees have yet to fit into any kind of mold ever expected of them, so it is pretty easy to tell that that will not change now. As the 2019 version of the MLB trade deadline quickly approaches, their greatest need has the potential to be solved by a divisional foe.
As the Toronto Blue Jays endure yet another struggling season, ace starting pitcher Marcus Stroman is yet again being thrown around in various trade scenarios, most likely meaning that his time as a Blue Jay is quickly going to end. While he was thought to be likely traded at last season’s deadline, no deal came to fruition, and he remained a Blue Jay for the time being.
Flash forward to one year later, and the Blue Jays almost look to have the pick of their contending teams to send him to. Besides the Yankees, teams like the Chicago Cubs, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers, among others, have seemingly thrown their ball caps into the ring in hopes of securing Stroman’s services.
In an envious position, based solely on building for the future, Toronto has a huge decision on their hands – do they send him to the National League so they can limit the damage that he can do against them, or do they keep him in the American League, fully aware of what he can do to them later in his career but potentially being able to secure a better prospect package due to keeping him within their league, or even worse, their own division.
For the Yankees, their motivation is quite easy to see: already holding a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays and a 10-game advantage over the Boston Red Sox, they already have what looks to be an insurmountable lead, although baseball has produced some wacky divisional situations. With the Rays looking to be a bigger threat than the Red Sox, the Bronx Bombers should look to make a splash on their way to solidifying their stance atop the AL East.
For whichever team finally does acquire Stroman’s services, he will cost a pretty penny and then some to get him. But especially for the Yankees, he would cost much more due to divisional familiarity and having to play him a ton for the rest of his pinstripes career.
Building up their farm system has taken a lot of hard work, but the Yankees always seem to be able to recoup assets and make their prospects rankings very attractive come deadline time, and 2019 is no different. There will need to be at least one common player in any deal that is pitched to Toronto, with a ton of talent going back north.
Outfielder Clint Frazier, who has been the odd man out when it comes to holding down a roster spot on the active roster, will surely be included in any large deal that the Yankees make, and he would make a really good first piece that Toronto can plug and play immediately into their outfield ranks. Frazier would be an upgrade over incumbent center fielder Teoscar Hernandez, and putting him in center field would pair him with left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and right fielder Randal Grichuk to form a high upside grouping of outfielders.
Along with Frazier, there would need to be a top-three prospect from the Yankees system, one at least, to come along before getting any farther in the deal. Sending outfielder and top prospect Estevan Florial to the Blue Jays would surely hurt and ruin their long-term outfield plans, but it may be what the Blue Jays are asking for.
The top of the Yankees’ system is stocked full of right-handed pitchers who are oozing with potential, so a potential grouping of two of them could be enough to pair with Frazier to interest the Blue Jays. Adding two of these pitchers, righties Deivi Garcia (#3 NYY prospect), Trevor Stephan (#8) and Chance Adams (#19), to the deal would give the Blue Jays three total arms for their system, and all three players fit the timeline for the rest of their roster, being young but being able to be at the Major League level (if they have not already) no later than early 2020.
To recap, the deal would resemble something like this:
Yankees receive: SP Marcus Stroman
Blue Jays receive: OF Clint Frazier, RHPs Estevan Florial, Deivi Garcia, Chance Adams
A hell of an overpay, the Yankees have been known to overpay for players they feel that they cannot live without, and the Blue Jays have all the cards in their hand in any deal. With the likes of the Braves, Cubs, and Brewers, as well as any other contending teams looking to acquire Marcus Stroman, the Yankees will need to overpay to secure him, and that is a move that could easily happen.