Marcus Stroman will start for the Blue Jays Friday, potentially for the final time. Quite understandably, there’s lots of curiosity about what comes next.
But before we watch Stroman face the Detroit Tigers, it’s worth addressing some assumptions about the way the Blue Jays should approach the next two weeks.
More specifically, they don’t have to trade Stroman before his next start, they don’t have to get pitching back for him and they don’t have to extend him instead of trading him at all. On paper, those are all legitimate options, but major-league front offices stay measured for good reason. What advantage would the Blue Jays gain by determining that they have to take one path at the expense of all other options?
Yes, the Blue Jays accept risk with each moment they hold onto Stroman. He could get hurt, either by aggravating the pectoral cramp that sidelined him for the beginning of July or with another unforeseen injury. Yet alongside that risk, there’s potential reward. What if he pitches well? What if contending teams increase their offers as the deadline approaches and urgency increases?
The idea that the Blue Jays must get pitching back for Stroman doesn’t make sense either. It’s their biggest organizational need, so of course pitching should be a target all things being equal. But if someone offers a high-A outfielder with more value, you take it. The Blue Jays are 36-62. This isn’t the time for finishing touches.
And sure, extending Stroman could make sense (though it seems unlikely based on everything I’ve seen and heard). He loves Toronto. The Blue Jays need pitching. But does Stroman sound like someone who would take a hometown discount? Not to me. So you’re not extending Stroman at his current salary of $7.4 million. Market value is probably double or triple that.
All of that to say there’s room for nuance here. The Blue Jays could justifiably trade Stroman tomorrow, or flip him for a pitching-heavy return or even extend him. None of those are bad options. But the Blue Jays need to make the most of this opportunity and creating unnecessary restrictions won’t help here. It’s OK not to know how this ends just yet.
With all of that said, here’s what two other Blue Jays trade candidates were saying in Boston this week…
GALVIS PRODUCING QUIETLY
Given how well he has played at triple-A, the focus on Bo Bichette is completely understandable. The Blue Jays’ top prospect is hitting and, by all accounts, improving defensively at shortstop.
Yet as the hype around Bichette builds, it’s easy to lose sight of what Freddy Galvis brings at the major-league level. Not only is the 29-year-old playing stellar defence at shortstop, he’s hitting .265 with 15 home runs and a .750 OPS.
“Coming to the American League they have the toughest pitchers, so I’ve had to really focus,” he said. “When I stay short to the ball with a compact swing I can hit the ball pretty good. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
On paper, contending teams could use Galvis for the stretch run, but he’s keeping his focus narrow and avoiding trade rumours.
“In years before, maybe, but not right now. I’m just trying to play baseball,” he said. “Besides that, whatever happens, happens.”
When the Blue Jays signed Galvis to a one-year, $4 million deal they added a $5.5 million club option for 2020 that includes a $1 million buyout.
GILES FEELS STRONG
Ken Giles rested the day after returning to the mound for the first time since July 4. While his command was spotty in his first game back Wednesday, he was generally satisfied with the outing in large part because he didn’t feel any nerve irritation ‘whatsoever.’
“I hadn’t pitched in a game for two weeks,” he said. “I hadn’t seen a mound for a while. Yeah, I did some side work here and there, but nothing compares to a big-league game. Overall, I got out of there without any problems. That’s the biggest thing.”
A massage led to nerve irritation for Giles, who described his time on the sidelines as ‘too long of a vacation.’ Now that the deadline’s approaching, he’s trying to ignore chatter about potential moves, too.
“I’m just glad I’m back on a big-league mound,” he said. “I just want to compete for my team right now. I’m having a blast with these guys.”