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Blue Jays: Ross Atkins is really being tested already this spring

TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to members of the media before the start of MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on June 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 29: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to members of the media before the start of MLB game action against the Detroit Tigers at Rogers Centre on June 29, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Between Marcus Stroman’s comments to the media on Sunday and the situation with Vladimir Guerrero Jr’s eventual debut, Ross Atkins is already being tested this spring and it will be interesting to see how he responds.

Well, if Blue Jays fans have been a little bored with the lack of activity around the team lately, Marcus Stroman went ahead on Sunday and gave us a lot to talk about.

In case you missed it, Stroman did a bit of a presser on Sunday afternoon and he really didn’t hold back when asked a bunch of key questions about the team, and his role going forward. He talked openly, as he often has, about the desire to commit to the Blue Jays long term, and he gave his opinion on several significant topics. Check out our own Hayden Godfrey’s recap from yesterday, here.

While the comments are mostly fair points, there’s an argument to be made about whether or not Stroman’s timing was appropriate here. On one hand, he was asked questions by the media and he answered them, which is his right as a professional, and one of the stars of the team. On the other hand, he had to know exactly what he was doing with his comments on Sunday, and chances are the stirring of the pot was a calculated effort.

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Personally, I don’t really mind what Stroman had to say on Sunday, and I’m very interested to see how the Blue Jays’ front office responds, if at all. Chances are that Ross Atkins and company will just throw some cold water on the situation with comments about their “process”, and appreciating the passion that Stroman has for the team and for the city of Toronto. However,  it’s possible that their starting pitcher’s comments won’t sit terribly well either.

It was well reported that the Blue Jays had explored the possibility of trading the former first round pick this winter, and it’s not too late to pick those talks back up again. The market and need for starting pitching has changed around the game, but an arm with Stroman’s potential upside will always draw interest, and a spring injury or two could make for a better market than Atkins saw earlier this winter anyway. I’m not suggesting that Stroman is going to get traded because of what he said on Sunday, but it also wouldn’t surprise me if the front office was displeased, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that it could push them in that direction. It’s ironic of course, considering Stroman has repeatedly expressed a desire to stick around, and it may or may not be helping the cause.

However, there is a small possibility that Atkins and Mark Shapiro could be happy that Stroman drew some attention to himself, and away from the discuscsion around Vladimir Guerrero Jr. It’s more or less understood that Guerrero will begin the year in Triple-A Buffalo in order to secure an extra year of contract control over the #1 prospect in baseball, but that doesn’t mean it the decision comes without criticism, including from Stroman. It’s a strategy that is very polarizing around the game right now, and it looks like it’ll be utilized by the White Sox with Eloy Jimenez, and has been used in the past by others like the Cubs with Kris Bryant.

It’s a situation that will continue to be debated, even if it’s not against the rules, and it’s yet another test for Atkins in the early stages of the Blue Jays’ rebuild. Nobody said things were going to be easy, and the front office would be foolish to expect a criticism-free year when they aren’t actively trying to pursue the playoffs this season. That said, I’m not sure they were expecting this much drama around the team so early into things in Dunedin, and Stroman’s comments on Sunday didn’t help that cause at all.

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With more than a month until the first pitch of the regular season, there is plenty of time for everything to straighten out, and for the hot topics to calm down. That said, it’ll be interesting to see how Atkins reacts to everything that’s taking place, and if it’ll set any significant decisions in motion.

Your move, Mr. Atkins.

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