Blue Jays: In hindsight, the worst trades that weren’t made

Toronto Blue Jays rightfielder Alex Rios bats against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays April 5, 2005 at Tropicana Field. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Toronto Blue Jays rightfielder Alex Rios bats against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays April 5, 2005 at Tropicana Field. (Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images) /
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Blue Jays
NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 21: Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks at the ball as he stands on the mound during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 21, 2018 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /

Marcus Stroman to the Cubs?

This one is as much speculation on my part as it is fact, but it’s an interesting one to dream on. Let me also say right off the hop that I’m a fan of Marcus Stroman and I think he’ll be an important piece of the Blue Jays rotation for at least the next couple of seasons, if not beyond that.

However, there was a time when the Cubs were pursuing him pretty hard in 2017, at least before they acquired Jose Quintana from the White Sox. The prospect package was a big one that was sent across town in Chicago, and right now I’ll bet the Blue Jays would like a mulligan on trade discussions, even if they still like Stroman as a Blue Jay.

At the time there were rumours that the Blue Jays were looking for a strong MLB player, and likely one from the Cubs’ roster. That could have included someone like Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, or maybe even Addison Russell or Javier Baez (prior to his big breakout). The deal never did grow big legs, but it’s what the White Sox got back in return that makes me wonder if the Blue Jays didn’t miss out here.

The Cubs sent a prospect package to the White Sox that was headlined by Eloy Jimenez, perhaps the second best hitting prospect in baseball after Vladimir Guerrero Jr. The package also included pitcher Dylan Cease, first baseman Matt Rose, and infielder Bryant Flete. Jimenez and Cease were number one and two in the Cubs system at the time, and both figure to be a big part of the White Sox rebuild.

Jimenez in particular was sensational this season hitting .337/.384/.577 with 22 home runs, 75 RBI, and 28 doubles in 108 games split between Double and Triple-A. He caused a stir among White Sox fans similar to the way Vlad Jr. did when he wasn’t called up this fall, as the White Sox will look to keep him under club control for awhile as well. Cease was also fantastic between High A and Double-A, sporting a 2.40 ERA in 23 starts. Meanwhile, Stroman struggled through injury and ineffectiveness in 2018, arguably having his worst season as a pro.

Again, it’s not that trading away Stroman is something the Blue Jays definitely should have done, it’s more about what they could have landed from the Cubs. The idea of adding Jimenez to a minor league stable that already includes studs like Guerrero, Bo Bichette, Danny Jansen, and Cavan Biggio would have made a pretty unstoppable lineup. The Blue Jays should have that anyway, but it’s always fun to dream about adding another powerful bat to the mix.

Hopefully Stroman will regain his form in 2019 and either become the rotation leader that he’s capable of for the next generation of Blue Jays, or bring back a similarly valuable return in a trade sometime in his final two years of contract control in Toronto. I’ll reiterate one more time, I’m a fan of the Blue Jays pitcher, I just hope he can find his form again so we’re not talking about this for years to come.