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Ross Atkins can’t afford to bungle trading Marcus Stroman

After missing out on the opportunity to cash in on a Josh Donaldson trade last season, the Blue Jays and their fans won’t be pleased if it happens again with a trade of Marcus Stroman.

The rumour mill quieted down for a few days around the Christmas break, but don’t be surprised if things pick right back up in short order here, possibly even before the calendar flips to 2019.

One of the last rumours we heard about the Blue Jays before Christmas was that there was a potential deal being discussed with the Sad Diego Padres about Marcus Stroman. It doesn’t sound like things are very far along, but as we’ve seen in the past with trades, things can change in a real hurry.

We could debate whether or not Stroman should be traded at all, or what kind of return the Blue Jays should expect if they do pull the trigger, but I’d like to look at another aspect of the whole thing. To me, one of the most significant factors is how they choose to use Stroman toward their rebuild, whether as an asset they hang on to, or someone they turn into additional prospects. Either way, Ross Atkins can’t afford to bungle this scenario the way things went down with Josh Donaldson last season.

If I’m being fair, I don’t think anyone would have predicted that Donaldson would spend almost the entire season on the sidelines, playing in just 36 games for the Blue Jays in 2018. His value dropped to a new low since arriving in Toronto, and it definitely didn’t help that he wasn’t healthy before the July trade deadline, and still hadn’t returned to a MLB field before the waiver deadline in August. In the end, the Blue Jays had to settle for a pretty underwhelming return in Julian Merryweather, an injured pitcher from the Cleveland Indians organization.

When it comes to veteran assets, the Blue Jays really don’t have a lot of trade pieces that could bring back a lot of prospect capital, which is part of what makes a potential trade of Stroman so important. They couldn’t get max value for Donaldson, and the same happened with Roberto Osuna‘s trade to Houston, although that was a different set of circumstances. Unless Aaron Sanchez manages to stay healthy and perform in 2019, he’s not going to bring back the kind of return it once looked like he could back when he was leading the American League in ERA in 2016.

The Blue Jays do have a significant amount of talent in their minor league system already, but you can never have enough building blocks, or potential trade pieces available to supplement the roster later. They did bring back a bunch of prospects last year with the trades of Donaldson, Osuna, J.A. Happ, Curtis Granderson, Steve Pearce, and more, but there weren’t many of the elite variety. Trading Stroman at the peak of his value could bring back that kind of return, in theory.

I’m not suggested that Atkins or the Blue Jays management’s jobs will be on the line if they mess up a Stroman trade, but it won’t help the way the fan base views them. There’s a good chance that doesn’t matter to Atkins or Mark Shapiro as they embark on a long-game rebuild, but getting the most out of any Stroman trade would go a long way to helping that rebuild.

Next: The presents are homemade for fans this year

Here’s hoping that if they do go through with it that they wait until they can get the best return possible.

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