The Toronto Blue Jays reportedly balked in trade talks for Charlie Blackmon when Marcus Stroman‘s name came up
In early December, a report from Jon Morosi said that the Colorado Rockies had asked the Toronto Blue Jays for starter Marcus Stroman in deal for outfielder Charlie Blackmon.
We gave this a passing glance at the time, largely due to the logjam of rumours and reports already surrounding it in relation to the Blue Jays, but since the same information has now been reported elsewhere, including yesterday by MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, it’s worth a longer look back.
“The Blackmon trade talks were short-lived and not likely to continue in the future,” Chisholm wrote yesterday. “It’s pretty simple — Colorado wanted Marcus Stroman and the Blue Jays weren’t prepared to deal him.”
Rightfully so. But first — who is Charlie Blackmon? Colorado Rockies games aren’t the most viewed sporting events in the Toronto market by any means, so it’s understandable for some Jays fans to know the name… but little else.
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Blackmon, 30, is a late-bloomer with two years of arbitration control remaining and is coming off a breakout season at the age of 29. That’s not entirely uncommon to a franchise that has been carried by Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion, but not ideal. Blackmon’s 3.9 fWAR from 2016 represents a career high, up from his previous best of 2.1 the year prior.
This breakout year was aided by a high BABIP (.350), career-high HR/FB% (16.2), a low ground ball rate, and a career-high hard contact rate. Some of these were by narrow margins, but when they all add together, there’s enough reason to believe that Blackmon has met his ceiling. This is not to discount Blackmon, a fine player that all 30 teams would trip over themselves to add, but it must be factored in.
Defensively, Blackmon played has primarily in centre for the Rockies the past two years and earned values of -2 and -8 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). His base running brings strong value, even with his stolen base total falling from 43 in 2015 to 17 this past season. MLBTR projects him to earn $9.0 million in arbitration.
Stroman, on the other hand, is Toronto’s best bet against rotation regression. After a year in which the Blue Jays’ starters carried the team at times, Stroman taking a step forward will help to negate the possibility that Sanchez, Happ, or Estrada see their stats normalize. Joshua Howsam’s analysis of why Stroman is primed to do just that offers some real optimism, too.
Being under team control through the 2020 season only pads that value for Stroman, who is projected to be due just $3.5 million in arbitration this year.
So in hindsight, now that the talks have been confirmed from multiple reports, the Blue Jays were right to hit the brakes. Filling one hole by creating another seems to be a clearly unwise method of improving the team, especially given the lack of depth beyond Toronto’s starting five.
Any hypothetical deal with Colorado would need to be based around upper-level prospect capital, but even then, the Blue Jays may not have the ‘wow-factor’ pieces needed. (Though, if there is one team that would take Justin Smoak‘s contract as a throw-in…).