A common topic of trade talk for what feels like the past few seasons, right-handed starting pitcher Marcus Stroman is seemingly on the trade block again, as the Toronto Blue Jays are still in a rut of trying to compete but not having the necessary pieces to do so. In a crowded American League East division that currently sees the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox fighting for playoff rights, the Blue Jays are sitting with the Baltimore Orioles in what is left in the top-heavy East division.
Currently sporting a 5-9 record with a 3.04 ERA across 17 starts, Stroman is already on the cusp of passing his pitching stats from last season, which saw him miss some time due to injury. Seemingly fully healthy and ready to get back to his impressive form, a change of scenery is due for the righty.
Having only pitched for the Blue Jays in his career, Stroman was drafted all the way back on June 24 of 2012, so this marks his seventh season within the Blue Jays organization. Within that seven-year time frame, the league’s only non-United States baseball team has had a record over .500 three times, two of which resulted in playoff appearances.
In both 2015 and 2016, the Blue Jays ended up losing in the AL Championship Series, as they fell to the Kansas City Royals in six games in 2015, while they lost to the Cleveland Indians in five games in the following season.
Not having tasted much success in the playoffs in a very long time, this team is hurting desperately for some sort of extra gear that they need to find to get themselves back on the winning path. As much as it may hurt Blue Jays fans, Stroman may need to leave for that gear to be found, mostly due to the sort of prospect package they would receive in return.
Teams like the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, just to name a few, would figure to have an interest in the ace-level starter, as each of these squads are well in the playoff picture and do need a few pieces to get them over the hump.
Of these listed teams, the Brewers and the Phillies would seem to be the two most interested teams due to their current place in the standings and the need to improve their starting pitching ranks.
For the Brewers, this team has been operating without a bonafide ace since the end of the 2017 season, when crowned ace and homegrown arm Jimmy Nelson went down with a shoulder injury that resulted in him missing the rest of the 2017, all of the 2018 and the first month-plus of the 2019 seasons as he was on the recovery trail. Now finally back to health and pitching for the big-league squad, his stuff is just not there, and after being thrown out there for a few starts, Nelson has been demoted to the bullpen in a way to hopefully help get him back on his feet.
The Phillies currently are five-and-a-half games back of the first place Atlanta Braves in the National League East division, and they need some help if they want to catch their divisional counterparts. Armed with a solid farm system and a top-tiered big-league club that has been underperforming up to this point in the season, and it has all the makings of a solid match between themselves and Stroman.
The swagger that Stroman brings to the bump every time he pitches is something that every team could use injected into their culture, as he plays the game a way that may rub some players and fans the wrong way. Being impassioned about what he does for a living is just how Stroman does it and is something that all teams should love if they are to be looking into acquiring his services.
Under team control for another one more season (his arbitration eligibility runs out after the 2020 season), the Blue Jays should be able to get a pretty decent haul if they choose for this to be the ideal time to move Stroman. Any prospects coming back will have the chance to make an impact on the Blue Jays squad if far enough along in their respective farm system, and the Blue Jays need as much help as they can get.
Youngsters Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio are bringing in the next wave of players looking to take over this league, and the Blue Jays have a super bright future ahead for themselves. Provided they can get out of their own way and move on from some players that may be a bit older than the wave they are trying to usher in, this team has all of the makings to yet again rise to the top of the AL East on the backs of players who learned how to play America’s past time from their fathers.