By: Danny Gallagher
Canadian Baseball Network
Marcus Stroman must have sat up and took notice Dec. 23 when he saw that the Atlanta Braves handed outfielder Ender Inciarte a big Christmas present by signing him to a five-year contract worth $30.5-million.
Stroman, like Inciarte, is a Super 2 arbitration-eligible player, and could possibly warrant a multi-year deal from the Blue Jays. Maybe. The deal for Inciarte covers four years of arbitration and one year of free agency. He had two years and 157 days of service time under his belt.
Stroman slipped into arbritration territory this off-season with two years and 148 days of service. Most players qualify for arbitration with three seasons of service time. Stroman is coming off a topsy-turvy season when he was 9-10 with a 4.37 ERA in 204 innings of work. Very inconsistent.
Stroman posted a strong 11-6 season in 2014 but spent 85% of the 2015 season on the DL because of a knee injury incurred during spring training that year. So now the Blue Jays' braintrust has to weigh the pros and cons of a multi-year deal or simply just work on a one-year pact.
Although he has never publicly complained, Stroman must have been peeved at the mere $1,200 raise the Jays gave him after his mostly DL season of 2015 which concluded with a 4-0 record.
The general rule of thumb as I examine Blue Jays' contracts in recent years for players under their control is that players get a raise of $9,000 over the previous year. Not $10,000 but $9,000 or so. Yet, the Jays low-balled Stroman with a $1,200 raise. There was no negotiation. He went from $514,700 to $515,900.
One online website suggests Stroman is projected for a salary of $3.5-million in 2017. I think the Blue Jays are looking at that figure as quite lofty, generous and ambitious. I see the two sides not being close at all. Based on his lacklustre season, I'd be surprised if the Jays offered him more than $2-million or $2.5-million. In the next few weeks, we'll see how that all plays out. I see a showdown on a one-year deal because of his untidy 2016 season and the fact he spent most of 2015 on the DL.
The one player the Blue Jays could really think hard about for a multi-year deal is Stroman's best buddy Aaron Sanchez. He's coming off a terrific 15-2 season with a 3.00 ERA in 192 innings. Although he's not arbitration-eligible, he could command a five-year contract that would take him through his 2021 free-agency season.
So while Stroman likely would not command Inciarte's kind of deal, Sanchez would.