What should the Toronto Blue Jays do with starting pitchers Marcus Stroman and Aaron Shanchez in 2019?
|Twitter Poll Date: 12-19-18||476 votes|
|Keep them both||45%|
|Trade them both||25%|
It’s hard to believe that there was a time when the Toronto Blue Jays baseball franchise could proudly say that their future was in good hands with the highly-touted prospect quadrumvirate of Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna and Devon Travis. An enviable nucleus of young talent occupying key roster spots that was destined for a rosy and glorious future of perennial playoff appearances. That was the winter of 2016.
And here we are today. HDMH is on the trading block, Roberto was flipped for a non-misogynistic roster player, and Travis is a seemingly spent force that was once heralded by yours truly as a possible throwback to Kirby Puckett. We’re a measly two calendar years removed from optimism normally reserved for big-market behemoths who spend tirelessly to keep their fans satiated with a post-season wanderlust that once made Toronto the capital of the baseball world. But fate is not without a cruel and sublime sense of humour just as comeuppance finds a way to spoil all our idealistic musings on a team that now finds itself relying on dollar hot dogs to boost fan attendance in 2019.
Keep them both (45%): Considering nearly half of the voters want the brass to keep both players, I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t pleasantly surprised. There are a myriad of reasons why this choice is progressively pragmatic and irrefutably sensible on all fronts; both players are ex-blue chippers that held the mightiest of asset value right after their breakout years; an ERA title for Sanchez in 2016 and an impressive 8th place finish in the Cy Young race for Stroman. Both players are under control until 2021 which means that they remain at the mercy of a modernized soul-sucking arbitration process that’s already caused enough damage by exploiting their innate frailties and professional insecurities (“show me that you really love me?”). And both players remain the only bona fide trading chips that should reap growing dividends if given the chance to rebound with their personal health and motivation in tow. In other words, the risk-versus-reward paradigm that Mark Shapiro flashes like a noble badge of fiscal honour can rationalize this decision in a heartbeat for next year.
Trade them both (25%): It isn’t surprising to see 1 in 4 fans want to wash their hands of the Anthopoulos era completely and this would be the symbolic coup de grace. The way I see it, it’s all part of the Shapiro-Atkins master plan to justify a youth movement by trading away “old” youth. How else could one possibly explain parting with both home-grown arms at this stage in their respective careers? But when you factor in the departure of Donaldson and Tulowitzki as a means of “emancipating” the payroll and emboldening a new cultural direction simultaneously, trading Stroman and Sanchez begins to make absolute sense. Bluebird loyalists are simply fed up with the litany of blister excuses, the spectacle of social media shenanigans, and those godforsaken WestJet/AMEX commercials which all seem to echo a clear and incontrovertible sentiment: “Hey fans, It’s all about me and my revenue stream!” – which festered ruthlessly in our ears over two humiliating baseball seasons. Wiping the slate clean in pro sports becomes much easier when a passive-aggressive fanbase is asked to erase all links and traces to September, 2015. This type of move will most assuredly do just that.
Trade Marcus Stroman (17%): Every relationship runs its course. And this one remains as tumultuous and volatile as they come; an exercise in front office antagonism, fan irritability, and player righteousness packaged together in a powerfully branded and defiantly diminutive soul (it’s hard not to admire). But even Marcus would be the first to say he needs a change of scenery and a fresh cup of coffee in the big leagues now, more than ever. In a year where he started 0-3 with an 8.88 ERA in April and didn’t win his first game until June 29th (!), Stroman’s recurring shoulder and finger concerns has cultivated the perception that he simply isn’t a good fit for this team and likely never will be. Even a tidy July (3-2, 3.86) did little to remind us of his “I want to be the Ace” proclamation many moons ago. I confess that I underestimated Marcus right from the start of his career with the Blue Jays, preferring to throw criticism where it was warranted and exponentially popular to do so (you’ve truly made it when he blocks you on Twitter), but I’ll also be the first to acknowledge the massive granite chip on his shoulder that has now grown to epic proportions thanks to several years of relentless injuries, brutal underachievement, and a profound lack of personal humility.
Trade Aaron Sanchez (13%): From earned run average champion to blister prevention and insurance spokesperson, it’s hard to sympathize with Sanchez and his seasonal sojourns on the disabled list. One could argue that it’s scuttled away a career that should have been monetized handsomely by now (according to the Scott Boras school of sumptuous talent projection), but is instead better known for becoming an unfulfilled baseball prophecy (there can be only one Lansing prodigy). There are still many executives who believe Aaron can turn his bloodied-but-unbowed ship around; one that saw him become the veritable corporate poster boy who found himself with more screen time on network commercials than pitching in regular season baseball games. You’ve reached the heights of surrealism when your team is twenty games under .500 and your presumable ace is busy pitching auto insurance and selling premium airline seats. Should we have faith that Sanchez can dig deep and become a true rotational stud for this team? I offer you this: show, don’t tell. This might be his final chance to gain back virtually all credibility lost from aligning himself with an agent whose stunning over-inflation of his client’s value is likely to ensure a departure from the Blue Jays long before Sanchez is eligible for free agency.