Blue Jays: Marcus Stroman is the leader we need

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Teoscar Hernandez
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 11: Teoscar Hernandez /

Marcus Stroman has demonstrated an elite ability on the mound, but just as importantly, has shown that he’s a great leader, on and off the field.

The Blue Jays will navigate this offseason with plenty of questions about their 2018 roster, with plenty of work to be done before Opening Day. That said, they do have a few names written in ink, and one of those belongs to Marcus Stroman, your American League Gold Glove winner for 2017.

I might be a little presumptuous at this early stage, but I’d be willing to put down some significant money that he gets the ball on Opening Day next season. He’s certainly earned the honour after the performance he turned in this past season, finishing 13-9 witha 3.06 ERA, good for third among starters in the American League. He was the one starter that John Gibbons could count on from day one to the final out of the season, and that has tremendous value.

We’ve talked about Stroman a lot here at the Jays Journal, but it’s hard not to when you have a player putting on that type of performance on the field, and providing as much entertainment for fans as he does on Twitter and other social media channels. The guy is a presence everywhere, and his larger than life personality is a true asset for the Blue Jays’ organization.

More from Jays Journal

He’s impressed me in so many ways on a personal level, with the latest being the free clinic he put on for the youth of Long Island. He’s the type of personality that wants to engage with fans, and more importantly, he gives back as well.

He’s obviously an entrepreneur with his frequent posts about his #HDMH brand, but even within that he does good while being a savvy businessman. The brand is built on inspiring people of a smaller, or less dominant stature, as Stroman consistently does as a big leaguer while standing just 5’8. He’s inspiration for those who’ve been told they “can’t do” something, and he embraces that image with open arms.

He also impressed me in 2017 in many ways as a young leader of the Blue Jays. Despite the fact that the team languished in last place of the AL East until the very last day of the season, Stroman remained a positive voice for the club, at least publicly anyway. He went out and did his job with enthusiasm every fifth day, all season long, and without his contribution it’s hard to say how much worse the season could have gotten for the Blue Jays.

What really stood out for me though, was how he handled Jose Bautista‘s farewell weeks on the field as a member of the team. Stroman has made no secret of Bautista being a role model and “big brother” for him, but the 26 year old went out of his way to make sure that Bautista was honoured at every opportunity, and was by the side of the Blue Jays’ legend through most of his final games. The respect he’s shown for the veterans of the clubhouse is very admirable, and it’s something that youngsters around the game can learn from.

He’s currently under club control for three more years, and is set to enter arbitration this winter for the second time. Regardless of where his salary settles for 2018, he’ll be a bargain and a crucial piece of how the 2018 season unfolds. It’s unknown if the front office has approached him about an early extension, but if they haven’t, I’m more than in favour of that conversation starting immediately.

He’s the type of talent and leader that you want to build your team around, and at just 26 years old and a lot of his fresh resume, the Blue Jays have an outstanding foundational piece for at least three m ore seasons, and hopefully for a long time after that as well.

Next: Shohei Otani offers an interesting quote about his future