One report has teams ‘circling’ around Marcus Stroman, but will the Toronto Blue Jays actually deal him at the Trade Deadline?
The Toronto Blue Jays currently sit 10.5 games out of first place in the American League East. They are 5 games out of a Wild Card spot with nothing short of a million teams in front of them. Things do not look good for Canada’s team as we head into the All Star break. With half the season played, it is obvious this team has performed well below expectations. It defies logic. They should be better than this. They should be approaching the July 31st Trade Deadline looking for that piece or two that puts them over the top as they charge toward the playoffs.
Instead, this current stretch of games very well could have altered their direction. With frustration guiding their thoughts, many have called for the team to tear everything down and rebuild. The issue with that is that the pieces the Blue Jays have to trade are actually pieces you keep and attempt to compliment over the offseason. Aging contracts like that of Troy Tulowitzki are not something you can just deal. This isn’t MLB The Show. Without getting into the specifics of each player on the roster (at this time), let’s just say it isn’t as easy as tearing it down.
It is for that reason that the latest gem from Buster Olney doesn’t sit well. Firstly, Olney goes against everything that the Blue Jays front office has been saying publicly by suggesting the team is turning around and rebuilding. Whether you like Ross Atkins and Mark Shapiro, or not, you can’t say that they’ve been that blatantly dishonest in their public statements. Why would they consistently talk about adding and winning and then Buster Olney say the opposite? Forgive me, but I’ll stick with Shapkins on this one.
Of course, this isn’t the real meat of Olney’s point. No, he says that because the Blue Jays are selling, teams have been
scouting ‘circling’ Marcus Stroman. Olney’s defense is that Stroman would be entering free agency by the time a rebuild comes to fruition.
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At 26 years old, Stroman has become one of the more popular figures in Toronto sports. His passionate, outgoing personality has won many fans over, as has his love for the city of Toronto. But, more than that, he has become a solid pitcher for the Blue Jays. He shows moments of brilliance, but settles in to what we would call a solid number 2 starter. He would be the perfect addition to any rotation looking to make a playoff run. Heck, a team like the Yankees could definitely use him. The Red Sox would look almost unbeatable with Stroman alongside Chris Sale…and that other guy.
Here’s the thing: trading Marcus Stroman is not likely an option right now. Stranger things have happened, but it doesn’t make much sense for the Blue Jays. First of all, as far back as they are, removing Stroman from their roster would definitely signal the end of the 2017 season. Again, the front office is not ready to do that, as silly as that may sound.
But, let’s say that they do explore a deal for Stroman. He won’t be a free agent until 2020. That means that he is under team control for the next 2.5 seasons. This is the kind of player you build around. His team control years would be something that could drive his asking price up, but the pieces coming back would mean that Toronto is also writing off the next 2 years as well.
With Francisco Liriano and Marco Estrada set to hit free agency, why would the Blue Jays look to remove yet another starter from their mix? As we’ve seen this year already, losing such a significant chunk of your rotation is asking for trouble. Potentially losing 3 starters is not the way to begin a rebuild. This is especially true when you look at the pitching depth of this team. There is not a starter, or two, ready to take a big league job. The Buffalo Bisons don’t have the next Blue Jays starter waiting down there.
Trading Stroman would put this club at a bigger deficit than they would like if they are entertaining the idea of rebuilding. Granted, their position in the standings certainly makes things look bleak. But, this is a roster full of talent that is simply not performing they way they realistically would. Throwing out the ‘this guy is done’ arguments with players like Tulo and Jose Bautista may make you feel better in the moment, but the reality is that this is a team full of good players. This is an odd year.
And, that is why, if this team does anything resembling a rebuild, it will be more of a retooling. Guys like Estrada and Liriano – and their expiring contracts – will be moved in an attempt to gain talent that can help the club as soon as next season. The contracts of Tulo and Russell Martin, Josh Donaldson and even Kendrys Morales necessitate another opportunity in 2018.
So, if Blue Jays management feels that this season is a write off (even though they continue to say it isn’t), expect them to make moves that will still allow them to make the most out of the talent they have. Expect them to compete in 2018. That means keeping Marcus Stroman.
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