Needless to say, the Reds haven’t had the greatest stretch since the All Star Break. Dick Williams reluctant admission that the Reds would be “in the buyer category” seems months ago, not just ten days. But the Reds should still avoid the temptation to switch to the “seller” category. After all, one of the most enticing arms on the market is under contract next year and the Reds would be remiss not to get more pitching while they can.

Enter Marcus Stroman. The Blue Jays righty sports 3.06 ERA with a 3.61 FIP this season, worth 2.6 fWAR already. That’s tied with Sonny Gray and 0.2 more fWAR than Luis Castillo in 2019. His 7.11 K/9 is a bit low, but he does get 9.8% swinging strikes, only a single percentage point lower than 2019 MLB average for starters. Also, conveniently higher than both Tyler Mahle’s and Tanner Roark’s 2019 rate.

Most importantly, Stroman is under contract for 2020, entering his final year of arbitration. He’ll likely make in the range of $9 to $11 million dollars next season, placing him in the same category as Tanner Roark for this season. With Stroman in the front end of the rotation with Castillo and Gray, the Reds 2020 staff looks much more fearsome than their already formidable 2019 edition.

As for pitch mix, this is where things start to get enticing. Stroman relies predominantly on his sinker. According to Craig Edwards of FanGraphs:

“Stroman’s sinker moves down more than any other right-handed pitcher in baseball, which allows him to get a lot of groundballs on the pitch.”

I could have easily paraphrased that sentiment, but I wanted you all to read it from Craig for two reasons: 1) Click on that link and read the rest of the article, if only for the graphs, and 2) it introduces the idea of groundballs. No one here at Redleg Nation is dumb, so we all understand that groundball pitchers fare better in Great American’s smaller confines. The Reds two best pitchers, Castillo and Gray? They rank fourth and fifth among starters with 50 IP in the entire major leagues in groundball percentage, at 56.1% and 55.5% respectively.

Stroman ranks second in that group with a 57.1% groundball percentage. Even better, Stroman ranks 7th in HR/9 at 0.76, another area where Castillo (12th) and Gray (21st) succeed. It may be too simplistic a conclusion, but it the Reds want to get better for 2020, why not take what has gotten to the fringe of contention and then make it even better?

The remaining question then is the cost: Does it make sense to deal a hefty ransom for Stroman, potentially a full season rental like Tanner Roark?

Because the Reds aren’t buyers in the traditional sense, only has linked the righty to the Redlegs, and even then, it was pretty dismissively:

Reds: Although Cincinnati can probably forget about a playoff spot for this year, Stroman would help replace impending free agents Tanner Roark and Alex Wood (who hasn’t even pitched this season) in 2020. That said, Stroman to Cincy seems like a long shot because playoff-caliber teams need him more right now and would likely outbid the Reds.

The Yankees (Clint Frazier+) or the Braves (Kyle Wright or Touki Touissant+) seem to be the consensus frontrunners for Stroman, and potentially the Padres if they decide to deal from their prospect depth to build for 2020. Taking a cue from those teams, it seems unavoidable that the Blue Jays would ask for Taylor Trammell plus a lesser prospect. Assuming the Reds make Trammell untouchable, there are at least a couple feasible workarounds.

First, a pitching package of Hunter Greene, Lyon Richardson, and a third player could get the job done. It would be a high ceiling, long-term move on the behalf of the Blue Jays, but not out of the realm of possibility. Both Greene and Richardson are still teenagers with high promise, and the two would become the Blue Jays 3rd and 8th ranked prospects according to FanGraphs Future Values system. It’s a deal that restocks the Blue Jays former MLB-leading system with some arms and helps the Reds current window.


If the Blue Jays fall into the “no such thing as a pitching project” camp, then there’s a second deal that might make sense for both teams: Jonathan India plus Mike Siani. It’s another big prospect package that mitigates some of the risk that arms like Greene and Richardson pose while keeping the top of the Reds system intact. India is blocked for the foreseeable future at the Major League level, and while the Reds can play Nick Senzel-like games with his positioning, he probably holds more value to the team as a trade chip. As for Siani, the Reds seem to be very high on him and got him for a steal, but he too finds himself behind Trammell and Jose Siri in terms of call-ups.

In the first, the Reds are definitely underselling the Blue Jays, and in the second, they’re overpaying. But in either scenario, the Reds are giving up some of their big name prospects but they are grabbing the best pitcher on the market this deadline.Stroman makes the most sense as a pitcher for Great American and upgrades the Reds rotation for 2019 given the impending losses of Roark and Alex Wood. Yes, the Reds will be bidding against the Yankees, but it’s a price worth paying. And who knows, maybe Stroman makes all the difference in 2019 as well.

Photo Credit: Arturo Pardavila III. Photo was slightly altered. Licensing can be found here.

33 Responses

  1. Big Tony

    I think the idea is to improve our already strong pitching and then use the off season to fix the offense via free agency.

  2. Weigarp

    I wouldn’t even consider either trade proposal. If the Reds are going to go all in for contending next year, maybe that’s a possibility, but trading 2 or 3 of our best prospects for only 1 more year is shortsighted. Now, if Stroman would agree to a 3-4 year contract to make the trade more viable for the Reds, then that’s a horse of a different color.

    • SaveTheFarm

      The extension is the only way you do this deal. Greene, Naughton, and Richardson for a year plus of Storman??? India and Siani? The farm system has taken a little bit of a dip due to promotion of Senzel and the trades over the winter. They shouldn’t make it worse than it already is.


      Josiah Gray is 8-1 with 2.25 ERA in AA for the Dodgers. Might have been the pitcher of the year in the farm system here.

      I liked the trade at the time, but Kemp is gone, Puig is getting traded soon, Wood hasn’t pitched yet, BUT at least HOMER is gone.

    • Justin

      Agreed, and I can’t imagine it working for us any other way.

  3. Big Ed


    The Reds have $60 million to spend this off-season, with a ton of payroll coming off the books. If they want a starter, then they should buy one for the number of years they want, rather than surrender minor league assets for one year of a guy with some reputation issues. (And he will get more than $9-11 million in arbitration.) The choices are (1) One year of Marcus Stroman at about $12 million, while losing two good prospects, or (2) Three or four years from a pitcher who wants to be here at a similar price, while keeping valuable prospects.

    This is especially true in the era of Derek Johnson and Caleb Cotham, who have gotten far more out of Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark (and other starters) that outsiders had projected.

  4. Kyle

    The Reds apparently had scouts at Stroman’s last start so this is plausible. With that said:

    Stroman and Ken Giles for Taylor Trammell, Tyler Mahle, and Packy Naughton

    I would pay this after watching last night’s meltdown of Iglesias

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I’d put Iglesias in that package and take out someone else. I don’t mind at all trading Mahle in the right deal. We kinda know who and what he is, I believe. He’s going to be a middle to back of the rotation starter.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        On further reflection — I would not trade Trammell in a package for Stroman and Giles. Both of those players are controlled for only one more year. I’d need more future control than that to consider surrendering Trammell.

      • jon

        Why is Trammel untouchable?He’s hitting .236 with very little power.

  5. Davy13

    I like the idea, but I would prefer that they go get bats either by trade or FA. The offense (or lack thereof) has been a major letdown. Too much reliance on Votto’s bat when the hand has begun writing on the wall on his career. If we had a bat like (Yelich), the team would be seriously contending for the division. Another franchise bat is needed to bring balance to the force.

  6. SultanofSwaff

    A trade would have to be predicated on a contract extension, but I like targeting this guy for the reasons mentioned. Seems a bit much to work out at the trade deadline, but if possible then I offer India plus Winker or Ervin. Trammell/T.Stephenson/Greene are off limits.

    Question of the day—will Alex Wood get traded before throwing a pitch for the Reds??

    • Roger Garrett

      Could be cause he went 6 last night in the minors and gave up1 run on 4 hits.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Since he pitched that way, I’d sure like to get a look at him in a Reds uniform, and maybe try to negotiate an extension that would take into account his inability to stay healthy. In other words, less than premium dollar.

  7. TR

    A lot of water has gone under the bridge since 2013.

  8. jbonireland

    NO to a trade for Stromon for any of the prospects listed for one year. We probably have 3 or 4 starters in the minors who have a chance to pitch for the Reds and you want to trade 3 of them for one year of Stromon. No way I trade Siani at this point, he was only 18 when drafted and he is starting to come around. I’m not a big fan of India but I’m not giving him up for one year of any starting pitcher even for Stromon.

    • Big Ed

      Agreed. Some of the proposed trades in this thread offer the Blue Jays more than their GM could ask for with a straight face.

      Marcus Stroman is not Bob Gibson. He is a Munchkin version of Sonny Gray, without Sonny’s make-up.

    • SaveTheFarm

      I just don’t get why no one likes India. He’s a top 50 prospect and he’s in his first full season of pro ball. Every trade proposal I see people just throw him in like “please take this guy off our hands”. He just moved up to AA, I’m excited to see how he does the rest of the year.

  9. FreeHouse

    Matthew Boyd over Stroman. Numbers don’t say it but I believe Boyd is starting to get really good.



  11. Jefferson Green

    Looking at Stroman’s advanced stat/batted ball profile gives me great pause for acquiring him at all. His hard contact % has gone from under 25% to over 35%. His SIERA for his career has gone from 3.18 (2014) to 4.41 (2019) and has risen every year. If this annual increase is predictive of his future performance, we have pitchers who can likely pitch 170 innings at a 4.50+ ERA next year without trading any assets away (or just re-sign Roark or sign someone like him). Anyone want to weigh in on his profile and predict his 2020 performance better than I can?

    • Jefferson Green

      Thanks, Pete. I agree that hitting upgrades are more valuable to this team, with C and SS high on the list.

  12. Scott C

    I would much rather trade pitching prospects than position prospects. Pitching prospects are the most volatile risk. That being said Hunter Greene is not just a pitching prospect, he is a good enough athlete that if his arm doesn’t allow him to pitch he could move over into the position list of prospect.
    I agree with the Reds that he is much more valuable as a pitching prospect but he was rated pretty highly as a positional player as well. I am not espousing that the Reds should make the change just that there is more possibility and value here.

  13. Tom Mitsoff

    The Reds have to either trade Puig in a deal that would include a pitcher like Bauer, or else extend him. We’ve seen what Puig is, and I ask everyone in all seriousness, who else is out there that will be better in the outfield for the Reds over the next few years? I’m not answering Winker, Ervin or any free agent outfielder you can think of. Puig can hit, he hustles and plays terrific defense. Yes, he makes boneheaded plays from time to time, but so does Joey Votto. If the Reds cannot sign Puig to an extension, I would certainly make him a qualifying offer after the season, and take the chance. It would be a-okay with me if he signs for another year at say $19 million, and plays with the same intensity as this year while he is in another contract year.

  14. Doc

    Isn’t Greene one of our best SS prospects? We don’t have a solid one around whom the majority of comments congeal.

  15. Bill J

    According to Sportrac the Reds have at least 9 player to become FA at the end of the year, 2 SP, 4 RP, 2 IF and 1 OF. Only 1 I think will interest other teams in a trade. The trades should have been made over the winter, Iggy, Scooter and Hernandez.

  16. Fish

    I would absolutely not, in any way, for any reason, trade for Stroman this season. You are paying a premium to trade at the deadline for an additional 1/2 season of control that adds zero value.

    There will be players available in the offseason with a year of control who are as good or better, provided the contending window looks to be open next year (I think the reds are one additional year off, so 2021).

  17. Curt

    Stroman at the deadline? Ha, No deal.

  18. Michael E

    I say no, only because Stroman has been a lot more miss than hit in his career. Reminds me alot of Chris Archer. Looks the part, has some good pitches, but rarely is anything more than an average or below average SP.

    Certainly he is NOT worth any of our top 3 or 4 prospects, the headliner would need to be prospect 5 or 6 and another prospect or one of our spare OFs that have limited ceilings, but already playing in MLB (Winker, Ervin, etc).

    the only plus is Stroman SHOULD be a buy low right now, but if suitors lineup, overpaying with a top 3 prospect should have the Reds walking away, regardless of an extension with Stroman, unless it’s under 10mil/yr. He is NOT an SP1 and never has been. He had flashes of SP2, but has settled in as an SP3/SP4 type in his career.

  19. Datdudejs

    Where do you find that trade simulator?

  20. Welshgold

    I’d trade Hunter Greene in a heartbeat for Stroman (we should’ve traded him already for Yelich!) But keep Taylor Trammell especially if we aren’t going to resign Puig.

    Also, if we can get Wood back in the rotation soon to make some starts (for the to soon be traded Tanner R or for Mahle) I’d like to think we could sign him cheap for next year. Wood was the player I was most excited about in the LA/Cincy trade.

    • LWblogger2

      Green would not have fetched Yelich. The Brewers wanted a blue-chip who was close the Majors. ANY deal for Yelich started with Senzel.

  21. jon

    I would try to resign Wood and Roark before giving up prospects for Stroman.