Blue Jays: Asking for the moon is a necessary step this time

TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to the media before introducing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 before his MLB debut later tonight against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - APRIL 26: General manager Ross Atkins of the Toronto Blue Jays speaks to the media before introducing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. #27 before his MLB debut later tonight against the Oakland Athletics at Rogers Centre on April 26, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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You can’t blame Ross Atkins and the Blue Jays’ front office for asking for a big return for their trade pieces, especially in light of how things have gone so far.

With less than four days before the July 31st trade deadline, this is about as hot as the stove is going to get with the Blue Jays this year, and it should be a wild few days.

It’s possible the Blue Jays don’t make as many deals as they are reportedly discussing at the moment, but it’s looking like they may be the most active seller on the trade market this summer. That makes some sense given their place in the early stages of a rebuild, and their place near the bottom of the AL standings.

We could see a long list of veterans shipped out here, but the largest fish and most discussed name would be Marcus Stroman, who has been generating interest from teams in both the American and National Leagues. Stroman has been one of the better starters in the AL this year, so his 2.96 ERA this season and his having another year of contract control are definitely desirable features for contenders looking for a starter.

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What’s interesting is that it sounds like Ross Atkins and the front office have set their prices sky-high in advance of the trade deadline, which is a welcome thing to hear for Blue Jays fans. One of the rumours was that they asked for Gleyber Torres from the Yankees, although there are mixed reports on whether or not that actually happened now.

When it comes to the Blue Jays’ top starting pitcher, there is a real divide on whether it’s wise to trade a talented 28-year-old starter like him right now. The key is whether he can fetch a big enough return to justify such a decision. Naturally, the front office is trying to make their team better, even when potentially trading one of their most valuable players and that’s a tricky thing to do in a situation like this. There’s also a great pressure on the front office to get this trade “right”, as assets like Stroman aren’t available to deal all that often. It’s the kind of franchise-building move that could either speed up, or help the ultimate failure of the next era of this team. No pressure, right?

There’s also the fact that Stroman has taken away a few of Atkins’ cards in trade discussions, whether that was his intention or not. Whether it’s the comments he’s made to the media, openly talking about how he hasn’t had contract extension offers, or by tossing water on rumours that the team may keep him if they don’t get a suitable return, which he did with one of the most active tweets of the week. I don’t blame the man for being upset, even without knowing all of the ins and outs of what’s happened behind the scenes. I’m just saying, it hasn’t been helpful for Atkins and the front office to gain leverage in negotiations.

By asking for the moon, hopefully the Blue Jays will be able to weed out any teams that are just looking for a bargain, or hopefully those looking to be the team that makes the “best” offer. There is a fair perception that the Jays are now in a position where they have to move Stroman, so even though there are plenty of suitors, it’s no slam dunk that they will get a big return. Trying to take back the power position in negotiations is a wise move, even if it might make a few people chuckle.

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All it takes is one desparate team to say yes, so by setting the bar high Atkins’ and company should be able to gauge who might be willing to pay the greatest price. If that strategy chases away a team like the Yankees, so be it.

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