With a talented young lineup that looks ready to compete in the not so distant future, why are the Blue Jays pushing Marcus Stroman out the door when they still need pitching for their rebuild?
We won’t know if it was a good idea or not until later this month, or maybe not even for a couple more years. However, even though it’s yet to actually happen, Marcus Stroman feels like he’s as good as gone from the Blue Jays’ roster already.
It’s a topic that we’ve been following throughout the year, as writers, fans, and I’m sure the Blue Jays front office have debated the best course of action for the future of their starting rotation. Right now that the group is lead by a 28-year-old Stroman, who has one year remaining on his contract, and has realistically been their only above-average starter all season long.
The Blue Jays are in the early stages of a rebuild right now so trading off veterans to further stock the minor league system makes sense. However, Stroman’s case is a bit different, as he’s young enough that he could still be at his peak when this team is realistically ready to compete again, and he’s expressed a lot of interest in staying put over the last few years. That said, his tone has changed a great deal in recent weeks, and it’s hard to blame him.
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If you don’t believe me that he’s as good as gone, have a listen to what he said in a recent interview courtesty of barstoolsports.com. Stroman was asked about what it would take for him to convince the Blue Jays to extend his contract, and he was quick to dismiss the idea altogether. Have a listen for yourself.
There’s no denying that Stroman is outspoken, passionate, or whatever you want to call him, but in this case you can’t fault the 2019 All-Star for the way he’s looking at things. He hears the chatter as much as we’re all reading it I’m sure, and he knows that if the Blue Jays were truly interested in extending him, like they did with Randal Grichuk earlier this year, then those talks would have hit a pretty serious stage by now. The fact that they haven’t tells Stroman all he needs to know, and you can’t blame him for mentally preparing to move on with this kind of writing on the wall.
I’m not necessarily opposed to trading him, as long as the Blue Jays can get maximum value back for him, but we don’t know what that will look like just yet. It would probably have to include at least three players, including a high-end pitching prospect or two, and perhaps the Jays will look to improve their outfield stables as well. If it’s not the kind of slam-dunk trade that Ross Atkins and company can’t turn down, it’s a shame that things have already gotten to where they are now.
The Blue Jays have basically put themselves in a position where they have to trade arguably their most valuable chip (that they would consider moving anyway), because keeping him around for the second half probably isn’t going to help the vibe or direction of this young roster right now, even if Stroman can be a strong and capable leader. I’m sure it would be a lot more difficult for him to find the motivation to be an outstanding teammate knowing that he’s as good as traded in the offseason.
I’m not suggesting that Stroman would sit around and pout if he has to stay with the team that he feels no longer wants him, but building a sense of unity with this group will be important. How is he supposed to pour his energy into that if he’s convinced that he’ll be traded over the winter? He’s also not stupid and he can see the clear need in the rotation both now and in the future, so it boils down to a few possibilities.
Is it that Atkins and Mark Shapiro don’t believe that he can sustain the type of production he’s had this year? That they don’t feel he’s worth whatever he’s going to command for an extension or as a free agent? Or is it that there really is some sort of personality conflict, as has been often discussed and routinely dismissed in the past?
I don’t know the answer, and I’m not sure that we’ll ever get the full story beyond the Blue Jays looking to find pieces that could work on a better timeline with their young pieces they already have. However, you can’t fault Stroman for feeling unwanted and even insulted by the way this has all developed. You also can’t blame any of us for looking at the emerging talent of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Bo Bichette, and more, and seeing a pitcher in Stroman who should be exactly what they’re looking to acquire, not trade away.