Two players the Blue Jays mishandled in recent years

Jul 24, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) throws
Jul 24, 2019; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (6) throws / John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Over the course of the past 15 years, the Jays have made some great trades. Bringing in the likes of José Bautista and Josh Donaldson, while giving up players who did not end up making a significant impact at the MLB level. But for every front office masterclass, there is always a decision made that looking back on it perplexes most.  

Here are two players the Blue Jays mishandled in recent years.

Marcus Stroman

One of those being the trade of Marcus Stroman. During his time with the club which stretched from 2014-2019, he truly embraced what it meant to be a Toronto Blue Jay. From running around the warning track on Opening Day in 2019 to energize the crowd, to appreciating each fan in the stands by signing autographs or taking pictures. He gave everything in his power to make Canada feel like his second home. Something few American players have tried to do, which immediately won over the hearts of every fan.  

It seemed like everything was going smoothly for the Jays and Stroman. He loved to play in Toronto, was willing to sign a long-term deal, and prior to his trade in 2019, he was amid his best season ever with a 2.96 ERA in 21 games, all the while playing on a rebuilding Jays team. 

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However, the contract negotiations never came. The major reason was from the Jays decision to extend Randal Grichuk earlier in the year to a five-year, $52M deal. Of course, the organization had the funds to extend both, but nonetheless, Grichuk’s deal was money away from Stroman. This led the club to trade him at the deadline. A move that left Jays fans disheartened because he was one of the last remaining players from the 2015 and 2016 rosters.  

Following the decision to secure Grichuk, he went on to produce a subpar OPS+ of 95 over the course of his next two seasons before being shipped off to Colorado as a salary dump. On the other hand, Stroman has blossomed into a premier starter and currently owns a 2.18 ERA in his first seven games this season for the Chicago Cubs. 

The extension given to Grichuk was likely not what Stroman would have been offered, and it is impossible to know. But let us say it would have at least been through the 2022 season. That means the Jays would have had another elite starting pitcher for when they came up short in 2021 and found themselves out of the 2022 playoffs in only two games.  

It was a shame to see the relationship with Stroman crumble to pieces in 2019 and the following years, because even though he would be welcomed back to Canada with open arms, it is very unlikely under this management.

Rowdy Tellez

Moving on to the next guy, Rowdy Tellez. The 6-foot-4, 270lb behemoth of a human took the league by storm during his short call up in 2018. During those 23 games he hit .314 with a .943 OPS, nine doubles and four home runs. This came at a time where there was not much to cheer about with Blue Jays baseball. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette both came up a year later and 2018 was just another year in the team's rebuild.  

That is why when Rowdy went on this tear, it was so important because it brought enjoyment for the fans, and for a short while the world thought he hit a 505-foot home run at Fenway Park which would have been the longest ever recorded in the stadium, surpassing Ted Williams' infamous record. Except it was later ruled to be far shorter.   

But the magic from Tellez did not stop there. He continued to show his raw power, hitting 29 home runs in 146 games between 2019 and 2020. During that time, he also had an impressive slash line posting a .240 AVG, a .306 OBP, and a .440 SLG for an OPS of .776. He may not have secured all the headlines like Vlad and Bo, but he was emerging with them as a future contributor at the game's highest level.  

However, there was one major negative about his future as a Jay. That being he would have to compete with Vladdy for playing time at first base, which was a losing battle for Rowdy from the start. Because of this, he was designated to a DH role, one the Jays did not like. In 2021, that trend continued; Vlad stayed at first, leaving Tellez with occasional starts in the infield and giving him the DH spot as the only position he could receive playing time at.

Thinking back to the lineups Charlie Montoyo put out in his time as manager, it was clear he did not like to keep one man in that spot. Instead, he used it to give guys half days off. Meaning someone taking up that role was not one that was wanted, and with a poor start to the 2021 season the Jays shipped him off to the Milwaukee Brewers for Bowden Francis, and Trevor Richards

Over the course of Rowdy’s 239 games for the Brewers, he has a .791 OPS and 51 home runs, bringing an elite power-hitting presence from the left side of the batter's box. That is an area the Jays have desperately needed in the past few years and had to go out in free agency to sign Brandon Belt to fill this gap.  

Given how the team is willing to let a player take the majority share of the DH spot, the Jays may have been too quick to move on from Rowdy. Because he could have been that guy, arguably producing at least the same if not better than Belt. He would have also been a cheaper option and is only in his second arbitration year.