With Marcus Stroman becoming a free agent after the 2020 season, could we see the 5’7 tight hander back with the Toronto Blue Jays?
Midway through the 2019 season, Marcus Stroman was the best pitcher on the Toronto Blue Jays, fashioning a 2.96 ERA along with 99 strikeouts and 41 earned runs in 124.2 innings pitched. This led Marcus to be the All-Star selection for the Blue Jays, and would remain the teams best pitcher until he was dealt to the New York Mets in late July for pitching prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods-Richardson.
At first glance, this was a significant blow to Toronto Blue Jays fans who saw the writing on the wall. Stroman was one of the last pillars of the playoff squad fans saw in 2015 and 2016, but also showcased the harsh realities of the business side of baseball.
Whether or not you were a fan of Stroman and his outspoken persona, there was no arguing he was the team’s best pitcher this season. Hands down.
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With the media tirade going back and forth between player and club, one thing is for certain between these two: there was no love lost when the trade went down.
Stroman loved the city of Toronto and his teammates, but was becoming frustrated with the organization’s unwillingness to discuss a contract extension to stay North of the border. It also didn’t help that a report came out saying that the Blue Jays may not trade their number one pitcher, and may sign him instead (which everyone knew was false).
In return, the organization, led by general manger Ross Atkins and president Mark Shapiro, was not happy with the social media presence of their young star, and with a rebuilding squad, decided that the more control over their players, the better they were going to be as an organization.
Now hypothetically, let’s say some certain members of the Blue Jays organization are let go in sometime between now and before the 2020 offseason begins.
Is it possible that Marcus Stroman returns to the city he loved so much that he got the CN tower tattooed on his chest?
That’s where it gets complicated.
Given his age and the premium that comes with established starting pitchers in free agency, the price for Stroman will be quite high (think $20-25 million a year high, maybe more). While the Toronto Blue Jays are currently rebuilding and will continue to rebuild for a few years still, the price tag may still be a bit high unless the Blue Jays hired an overspending GM like Dave Dombrowski. The organization does have some payroll flexibility that could change this mentality, as many past veteran contracts will be off the books when the 2020 season comes to an end.
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Another hurdle in the way of signing Stroman is his hometown roots. Marcus is very family oriented, as seen by his social media posts, and many fans (and probably Stroman) thought he would be traded to the Yankees at the deadline this year and would be close to his family in Long Island (where he was born). When he becomes a free agent, you can imagine that the pinstripes will be high on his list of places to play.
That was until another curveball came sailing in, this time regarding comments by New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. When asked why the team did not acquire Stroman this past season, Cashman stated that the organization passed on Stroman at the deadline because “he would not be a difference-maker”.
This led Marcus to tweet out his own rebuttal, showing how his statistics this season were better than all the Yankees starting pitchers combined except for WAR (which makes sense when it’s multiple players versus one).
Could Cashman’s outburst drive a wedge between Stroman joining the pinstripes after the 2020 season? Would the Yankees even want the outspoken right handed pitcher?
Considering the match between the two seemed to be almost set in stone, it appears that cracks may have developed between both parties which could allow a reunion between Stroman and the team who drafted him out of Duke.
The Toronto Blue Jays currently lack prospects and quality when it comes to their starting rotation, and acquiring someone like Stroman could be a driving force for another playoff push supported by young talent both on the diamond and in the batters box.
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In the end, the only person who knows where Marcus Stroman will end up when he becomes a free agent is Stroman himself. Will he follow the money? Will he stay close to family? These questions will only be answered once the free agent market opens up in 2020, and I can almost guarantee that Stroman’s name will be on quite a few whiteboard’s across the league.