Blue Jays: Don’t worry, Marcus Stroman isn’t going to be traded
When asked about Marcus Stroman on Tuesday, Ross Atkins expressed how well liked he is, but also didn’t close the door on a trade possibility. This means almost nothing, so please relax.
It’s the baseball offseason, and with it comes a dozen rumours for every piece of news with any truth in it. That’s the nature of things when free agents are available, and rebuilding teams are making solid veterans available on the trade market. It’s exciting and it’s fun to dream on what your favourite team might do.
For the Blue Jays, we already know that they’re not going to be big players in free agency, or likely in the trade market either. That doesn’t mean that they’ll do nothing, but in the beginning stages of a rebuild it’s important that the youngsters get a chance to play and ultimately prove whether or not they belong in the long term picture. After all, in a rebuild it’s all about the future.
That philosophy can make things interesting for the leftover veterans, and there’s a good chance that guys like Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki, and Kendrys Morales won’t be around by the next time the Jays make a legitimate playoff push. For players caught somewhere between “young” and “veteran”, it’s a little less certain. The Blue Jays don’t have a lot of these types, but 26 year old Marcus Stroman would definitely fit the description.
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It’s feels like the “Stro-Show” has been around longer than he actually has, but that’s because he’s been through a lot, both personally and with the franchise. He started out in 2014 by going 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 20 starts as a rookie, and famously came back in 2015 after what was supposed to be a season ending knee injury in spring training. He’s been the young kid under Jose Bautista‘s arm, an All-Star, and many things in between.
Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins was asked about whether Stroman could be a trade candidate on Tuesday, and he used some pretty typical, non-committal language for his answer. Some fans seemed to focus on the fact that he didn’t flat out say no to the idea of trading Stroman, but I think there was a more significant portion of the answer. Atkins said flat out, “no one likes Marcus more than us”.
With two years left of contract control, many of us have started to wonder out loud if the Blue Jays plan to make Stroman a part of the long term future. For his part, he certainly seems open and enthusiastic about sticking around in Toronto. He’s greatly invested in his personal brand around the city of Toronto and in Canada, and has raved on social media about the talent coming in the Blue Jays’ minor league pipeline. He seems to recognize that Toronto has been good to him, and there could be some sunny days ahead.
That’s actually a huge part of the equation, whether we like to admit it or not. Being the only Canadian team can be a bit of a deterrent for a free agent who doesn’t know a lot about Toronto. It’s a different country, and even a different currency (although contracts are paid in US dollars). Having someone with the talent that Stroman has shown who wants to be in Toronto, and even called himself an “adopted Canadian” in a recent ET Canada interview, is a big plus.
There’s also the fact that he’s coming off his worse season as a big leaguer, and the Blue Jays would undoubtedly be selling low on him if they were to trade him this winter. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s a better pitcher than he was in 2018, and I’m very confident that a healthy season will produce better, and more consistent results. If it still makes sense to trade him when he’s done that, then maybe you explore the idea.
To me, the biggest reason against trading him this winter is simple: he’s needed in Toronto. He’s needed to make 30 or more starts and hopefully throw 200 innings. The new manager needs him to be a leader on the field, and in the clubhouse with the young pitchers that will be joining both the rotation and the bullpen. They also need him to continue to fiercely pursue his best, as that kind of example is invaluable to the talented kids on the way.
If both sides can’t work out an extension someday, then perhaps it’ll make more sense to trade Marcus Stroman. However, moving on from him at arguably his lowest value, when the team needs leadership and innings, makes next to no sense.
I don’t blame Atkins for leaving open the possibility that someone comes along and blows his socks off with a trade offer, but I think he knows that’s very unlikely at the moment. For now, the most value that Marcus Stroman can give the Blue Jays would be at the top of the rotation depth.