Atkins, Stroman address extension talks, animated ‘clubhouse’ discussion

Marcus Stroman explains why he vented his feelings upon hearing he had been traded to the New York Mets.

TORONTO – After a transformative Sunday that included two significant trades, the reassignment of a coach and a clubhouse commotion, some answers emerged Monday.

Yes, Marcus Stroman voiced some opinions within the Toronto Blue Jays’ clubhouse after learning about his trade to the Mets Sunday afternoon. That’s the commotion everyone was wondering about. And no, he wasn’t simply annoyed to be going to New York’s losing team.

The Blue Jays, meanwhile, did talk extension with Stroman, but those talks stalled once the sides determined that the gap in valuations was too big. That led to trade talks, first with a group of eight or more teams, then with four finalists and finally with the Mets.

As for Shelley Duncan, the major-league field coordinator who’s now being reassigned, he’ll remain in the organization while transitioning from the coaching staff to the front office. According to Stroman, he and Duncan didn’t speak on Sunday. According to GM Ross Atkins, a new ‘hybrid’ role will allow the Blue Jays to maximize Duncan’s skillset.

And the noises that were audible from within the Blue Jays’ clubhouse Monday? Stroman said it was simply a talk. No hard feelings for the Blue Jays. No reservations about joining the Mets.

“The commotion was a discussion that I had with some of our coaches, some of the higher ups in our org,” he said on a conference call Monday. “I was just voicing my opinion about how a couple things were handled about the process. It had nothing to do with the Mets at all. Like I said, it all happened kind of quick.”

“I never shy away from the bright lights,” Stroman continued. “I’m excited to have that pressure each and every start. I kind of enjoy that.”

On Sunday, Stroman shared his view on how he ‘thought things were handled’ loudly enough that his comments could be heard from the hallway adjacent to the clubhouse, where reporters were not admitted. On Monday, he struck a different tone.

“To be honest with you, no frustration,” he said. “Nothing but positive times there. I can’t tell you all the lifelong friendships and relationships I’ve developed here. The moments that we’ve had here … Just being grateful for them all, to be honest with you.

“The frustration? It’s something that happened in an instant and was gone in an instant,” he added. “That’s not something that’s being held onto at all. I’ve been a Toronto Blue Jay for the last seven years. I wanted to be a Toronto Blue Jay for a long time. I understand the business side.”

Right, the business side. Stroman was outspoken about his interest in staying in Toronto, a place where he said he has developed “lifelong friendships and relationships.” That’s part of the equation, and an important one at that. But in preliminary discussions with Stroman about a potential extension, the Blue Jays didn’t come close to lining up on value.

“We did work towards that,” Atkins said. “We felt that there was too big of a gap.”

Atkins said he spoke directly with Stroman on occasion, “always very, very brief” chats. More often he’d connect with Stroman’s agent, Brodie Scoffield. Those conversations took place weekly in recent months and at least once per month over the last year, according to Atkins. Even in those exploratory talks, it became clear that the Blue Jays didn’t value Stroman the way his representatives did.

“You start to understand the parameters and desires of both sides,” Atkins said. “We felt as though there wasn’t a reason to continue because of the gap.”

With the knowledge that they weren’t close to an extension on Stroman, the Blue Jays started fielding offers more intently. On Sunday, they agreed to a deal with the Mets, sending Stroman and cash to New York for prospects Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson.

Weeks of speculation were finally over. Soon enough, Stroman was informed of the news. Time for one last ‘discussion’ in the home clubhouse, and then just like that it was time to move on.

“It’s an emotional time. It’s so hard, especially for a player that’s been with one organization,” Atkins said. “I know this city and country’s very important to him. I know this organization’s very important to him.”

“I’m passionate,” Stroman added. “Like I said, I had a conversation, I voiced my opinion and that was that. No hard feelings on either end. I’ll be back in Toronto in the future. I love this city, I love this country.”

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