NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Marcus Stroman vows not to be one of those pitchers crushed by the pressure of pitching in New York — after all, he’s a native.
A 28-year-old All-Star right-hander who grew up in Medford on Long Island, Stroman was acquired by the Mets from Toronto and hopes to debut for his new team on Friday at Pittsburgh as he fills a rotation slot vacated when Jason Vargas was dealt to Philadelphia.
“Oh, I think I’m ready for it. I mean, I think my personality kind of has shown that over the years, kind of never shy away from the bright lights,” Stroman said Monday, a day after the trade was announced. “I get excited in the big moments, and I feel like I’m able to really kind of lock in. So I know that New York is obsessed with winning, and that’s how I am. So I’m excited to kind of have that pressure behind me each and every start. I kind of enjoy that. I don’t think the pressure behind it should faze me at all.”
Stroman is 6-11 in 21 starts despite a 2.96 ERA that was fifth-best in the American League. He grew up near Mets starter Steven Matz, about 50 miles from Citi Field, and Stroman’s family was excited by the trade.
“I’m going to be able to play baseball in kind of my backyard. They’re going to be able to come watch me pitch every game,” Stroman said. “I didn’t actually grow up a Met fan — I grew up a New York fan. I used to go watch Mets games as well as Yankee games. I actually played at Shea Stadium with my travel team when I was younger.”
Barring more deals before Wednesday’s trade deadline, he joins a rotation that includes NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matz — a former high school rival and travel ball teammate. Stroman is eligible for arbitration next winter and can become a free agent after the 2020 season, and Toronto held only cursory talks over a long-term contract.
After Stroman was informed of the trade Sunday, he had a heated conversation with officials of the Blue Jays organization. That led to speculation he was unhappy with the swap. Toronto took the unusual step of keeping its clubhouse closed to media.
“The commotion was in a discussion that I had with some of our coaches, some of the higher-ups in our org, kind of just like an exit meeting,” Stroman said. “I was just kind of voicing my opinion and I didn’t like how a couple of things were handled along the process.”
New York is 50-55 and started Monday six games back in the NL wild-card race, with six teams ahead for the two spots. Stroman denied he was disappointed he was not dealt to a team closer to a playoff berth.
“I knew that I could kind of be shopped anywhere,” he said. “It all hit me kind of quick, and once I kind of settled and I talked to my family, the excitement kind of all settled in.”
Neither Stroman nor Toronto general manager Ross Atkins would disclose details.
“This city and country is very important to him. This organization was very important to him,” Atkins said. “So it was very emotional”.
Stroman is 47-45 with a 3.76 ERA in six big league seasons. The 5-foot-7 pitcher often is animated, which he thinks New York fans will appreciate.
“My energy is extremely authentic,” he said. “When I’m between those lines, it’s kind of a different savage, a different demon that kind of is out there — kind of go to a dark place to kind of put myself where I need to be, and I’m very passionate, very emotional. But away from the field I’m very relaxed and I’m kind of the opposite.”
Toronto received 24-year-old left-hander Anthony Kay and 18-year-old righty Simeon Woods Richardson. As part of the swap, the Mets get $1.5 million from the Blue Jays to offset much of the $2,506,452 remaining on Stroman’s $7.4 million salary this year.
Atkins said rebuilding Toronto narrowed eight-plus teams down to four in trade talks and did not have a firm offer until Sunday. His goal is to assemble a young roster around Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette, a trio of sons of former big league stars. Bichette who was brought up from the minor leagues Monday.
“It clearly doesn’t make our current roster better,” Atkins said. “Understandable that fans will be disappointed in not having Marcus Stroman and that absolute real asset today that we know can perform and make massive differences and wins and losses.”
NOTES: Toronto reassigned major league field coordinator Shelley Duncan to an as-yet untitled front-office role involving analytics and scouting.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)