Marcus Stroman spoke to the media on Sunday and declared he is looking to remain with the Toronto Blue Jays for a long time
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman received some criticism, after deciding not to talk to the media on Saturday. However, you can make the argument he was under no obligation to; in fact, it made some sense when you consider the issues he had with the media during last season.
Regardless, Stroman made up for this on Sunday, and then some. In the end, he spoke to the media for 20 minutes, at one point even declining a team official’s attempt to end the session.
The 27-year-old is often perceived as being a polarising figure. At the same time, you can never accuse him of being anything less than honest, with his passionate approach to baseball and life in general.
Along these lines, Stroman made it perfectly clear that he wants to remain with the Blue Jays for the long-term. As reported by Sportsnet‘s Shi Davidi, he said:
"“I want to play here. I’ve been wanting to play here for a long time. I’ve been waiting to sign a long-term deal. I’ve been offered nothing. There’s no one that embodies the city of Toronto more than me…I’ve always wanted to be here.”More from Toronto Blue JaysBlue Jays avoid disaster as Kevin Gausman injury not seriousBlue Jays interested in outfielder Andrew BenintendiBlue Jays hope fresh start for Sergio Romo boosts bullpenBlue Jays need to have a break from Yusei KikuchiBlue Jays: Nate Pearson suffers yet another setback"
In theory, Stroman’s words should be music to the ears of Blue Jays fans. For a world-class city as big as Toronto, the citizens often have a chip on their shoulder, complaining that professional athletes don’t take them seriously as a destination to ply their trade.
In reality though, it’s not so straightforward in the case of Stroman. Why would the Blue Jays offer him a long-term extension at this stage?
Consider that the 2012 first round draft pick is coming off the worst year of his Major League career. Aside from dealing with injury issues, he set career highs for ERA, FIP, WHIP and walks per nine innings.
What made this even more surprising, was the Stroman had arguably his best ever season just a year earlier, in 2017. He recorded a 3.09 ERA in a career-best 33 starts, going 13-9 and finishing eighth in the Cy Young voting.
The 2017 Gold Glove winner entered last year with a chip on his shoulder, after losing his arbitration case. We can all agree that the best way to respond to this, is not to have a poor season on the mound.
For what it’s worth, Stroman agreed a one-year, $7.4 million contract last month, which represented an increase from the $6.5 million he earned last season. Gaining a long-term deal is another matter altogether.
It’s going to be a tough season for the Blue Jays, who are now undergoing a major rebuild. However, the opportunity is there for Stroman to prove he’s worth a long-term extension, by pitching to his true potential.
If the Medford, New York native can do this, he has an excellent chance to be the staff ace. Anything short, and he will be left frustrated in his attempts to secure that multi-year contract.
On Sunday, Stroman talked about how much leadership the Blue Jays have lost, with the departure of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Donaldson and others. At the same time, the opportunity is now there for him to take on a similar mantle, which would in turn prove his worth to the organisation.
If nothing else, at least the righty sounds like he is going to embrace the role. As per Davidi, he said:
"“I want to make sure everybody in this organization is doing everything in their power to put the best product out on the field. I want to win. I don’t like losing. I hate losing. I want it to be like ’15 and ’16. Those were the best times ever.”"
The reality is those heady days of 2015 and 2016 are unlikely to return this year. Regardless, if Stroman can return to his earlier form and fulfill his undoubted potential, his desire to remain in Toronto for a long time becomes more likely.
Davidi advised an industry source refuted Stroman’s claim that he hadn’t been offered a multi-year deal. This obviously adds more intrigue to the pitcher’s comments on Sunday, especially given Davidi’s contacts within the Blue Jays’ organisation; who is telling the truth, is anyone’s guess.
What do you make of Stroman’s comments? How would you approach his request for a long-term extension with the Toronto Blue Jays? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.