After a recent Marcus Stroman sighting in Toronto, it’s easy to let the mind wander and speculate on the nature of his visit. It’s notable that he has always maintained a love for the city, regardless of his well-documented negative opinions of the front office. One that dealt him to the Mets back in 2019. With the former top Jays prospect now a free agent after opting out of his contract with the Chicago Cubs, is there much sense to a possible reunion?
Stroman’s skillset as a major league starting pitcher is well established, a sinker-baller who induces a lot of ground balls and weak contact. While his expected performance may be easier to predict than most, his durability has been the opposite. Over the last two years Stroman has been limited to less than 140 innings in both. This recent trend is in contrast to previous years of his career, as from 2016 to 2021 he surpassed 179 innings in four of those seasons, including 2021 when he led MLB in starts at 33.
In 2023 Stroman saw his second All-Star selection, and rightfully so after what he displayed in the first half. With a 2.96 ERA through 112.2 innings at the All-Star break, it seemed as though the righty would be in for a big payday should he decide to opt out of his current contract. This stellar performance was halted after a rib injury sustained during a July Cubs’ series in Toronto. After time on the injured list, Stroman pitched to a 8.63 ERA over his last eight appearances, six of them starts.
Recent seasons for Stroman illustrated the risk and reward of inking him to a multi-year deal. If the Duke alumnus is healthy and starting every fifth day, you’re just about guaranteed a middle-of-the-rotation starter with a keen mind for the game and a load of athletic ability. However, concerns over durability and the aforementioned icy relationship between him and the front office could serve as deterrents to signing him.
Does Stroman have a fit on this roster? As it stands currently ... sorta. Stroman will be looking for a team where he fits into their rotation easily. The Alek Manoah situation makes the Blue Jays rotation not the easiest to slide in to. Both Ross Atkins and John Schneider have alluded to Manoah being viewed as the leading candidate for the fifth starter role come spring training. Should this team acquire Stroman, a trade of one of their starters could be on the horizon, to avoid any situation involving a six-man rotation to start the season.
Signing Stroman to provide rotation depth would only lead to another deal to subtract from that same rotation. The Jays have depth in their pool of starters as it stands, just without a ton of major league experience.
There is no easy fit for Stroman on this roster. Lower profile moves to add to the rotation depth seem to be more sensible, rather than create an overcrowded rotation, at a steep price, for the purpose of adding depth.