Toronto Blue Jays: Examining the possibility of a Marcus Stroman reunion

DETROIT, MI - JULY 19: Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during a MLB game at Comerica Park on July 19, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - JULY 19: Starting pitcher Marcus Stroman #6 of the Toronto Blue Jays throws in the first inning against the Detroit Tigers during a MLB game at Comerica Park on July 19, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

Marcus Stroman is a free agent this off-season, but what are the chances the former Toronto Blue Jays pitcher rejoins the organization that drafted him back in 2012?

In 2019, Marcus Stroman entered the season as one of the Toronto Blue Jays longest-tenured pitchers and was given the task of starting on opening day.

Going into the season, Stroman and the Blue Jay’s front office had a bit of a rocky relationship, as Stroman had expressed his desire to stay in T.O., it appeared that the organization was leaning more towards trading him for prospects and controllable players. Making matters worse was the two sides kept going back and forth on tv interviews and social media, almost guaranteeing that Stroman was going to be moved at the deadline.

In the end, Stroman would be traded to the New York Mets in exchange for prospects Simeon Woods-Richardson and Anthony Kay, with both players finding themselves on the Blue Jays top 30 prospect list when they joined the organization.

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Since joining the Mets midway through 2019, Stroman amassed a 3.77 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 11 games and 59.2 innings. He did not pitch in 2020 after suffering an injury in summer camp and opting out of the season at the start of August. He will now become a free agent this off-season for the first time in his career.

Depending on who you ask, Stroman was both loved and loathed as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays. His fiery attitude on the mound and his love of the city sat well with many Blue Jays fans, with his impressive stats making him one of the better pitchers on the squad over the past 3-5 years. Over the 6 years with the organization, he would finish would a 3.76 ERA, 635 strikeouts, and a 1.278 WHIP.

On the flip side, some Blue Jays fans were not big on his social media presence, speaking his mind which rubbed some people the wrong way. Stroman is very active on Instagram and Twitter, and is not afraid to speak his mind and how he is feeling on a variety of subjects both in and around baseball.

With Stroman becoming a free agent, is there a possibility of a reunion between the right-hander and the Toronto Blue Jays?

One thing to note is that the Mets could choose to offer Stroman a qualifying offer, which could deter some teams from signing him due to the potential of losing draft picks. There is no indication that he will receive an offer from the Mets, but there is a possibility.

No Thank You

One reason I could see the Blue Jays passing on Stroman is that the organization does possess some younger options who are looking for some time to shine in the rotation. Nate Pearson should be ready to take over a rotation spot next year, as well as the return of Trent Thornton and other possible starter options in Anthony Kay and Thomas Hatch (to name a few).

Another reason I see the Blue Jays passing on Stroman comes down to money and the qualifying offer. Given that he did miss all of 2020, it is a bit tough to gauge exactly how much money/years Stroman will be going for this year in free agency.

He is still in his prime years at just 29 years old but this off-season will be a bit different given the financial situation MLB teams are in given the shortened 2020 season. Many predict that teams will be hesitant to dish out years and big money to free agents given that many organizations (if any) did not make a profit this season.

The Blue Jays could choose to spend some money on other areas on the roster, which may not leave any money left to sign Stroman, especially since the Jays have quite a few prospects at the starting pitcher position. The team could also be deterred by a possible qualifying offer, as they may want to keep the draft picks over signing Stroman, especially if they sign another free agent with a QO and will be losing draft picks already.

To maker matters more difficult, he did have a few social media exchanges with former teammate and current Blue Jays player Randal Grichuk, most likely not helping the case for a potential reunion (or a healthy one at that).

Let’s Talk About This

One scenario where I could see Stroman returning to the Toronto Blue Jays is if he signs a 1-2 year bridge type of deal where the right-hander tries to rebuild his stock for another run at a lucrative free agency payday given he missed all of 2020. The price tag would most likely have to come down quite a bit, but a heavily incentive-laden deal could do the trick if both sides really try to hammer out a deal.

However, starting pitchers can make a pretty penny on the free-agent market (Tanner Roark at 12 million a year over two years), so I could see a team offering him some solid money despite the injury last season. It also doesn’t help that the free-agent market for starting pitchers this season is on the thin side, meaning Stroman could easily receive some big bucks from a team really in need of starting pitching.

Another reason I see the Blue Jays taking a chance at signing Stroman is that he is one of the better free-agent pitchers on the market this season (as mentioned above). The top arm on the market goes to Trevor Bauer, but Stroman slots in at number 2 or 3 alongside Masahiro Tanaka.

The 5’7 starter does take very good care of himself, and his numbers with both the Blue Jays and Mets have been impressive, so re-adding Stroman to the rotation would be an improvement over pitchers like Robbie Ray or Taijuan Walker. Ross Atkins did say that the organization is willing to add an impact level player (which is code for the club is willing to spend some money), but it is not exactly certain as to which areas Atkins and co. are looking to upgrade this off-season or if the team will dish out money given the 2020 season.

In the end, it looks like a lot of stars would have to align if Marcus Stroman was to return to the Toronto Blue Jays this off-season. While nothing is impossible, Stroman did put up impressive numbers as a Blue Jay, so I could see the argument go both ways as to whether the team should resign Stroman.

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Do you want to see Marcus Stroman as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays again?