Marcus Stroman knew the chances of remaining a Toronto Blue Jay at the end of July were pretty slim. But he didn’t quite expect to be a New York Met before the month was over.
Speaking on a conference call with members of the media Monday, roughly 24 hours after being traded from the only Major League organization he had ever known, Stroman said he was “shocked” to learn it was the Mets that had acquired him.
He was also frustrated, at least in the immediate aftermath of the trade.
Reports had surfaced Sunday of a “commotion” in the closed Blue Jays clubhouse, and the charismatic right-hander chalked that up to him “voicing his opinions” in an exit interview.
“I didn’t like how a couple of things were handled throughout the process and that was it. It had nothing to do with the Mets at all,” Stroman said. “It all kinda hit me quick and once I settled and talked to my family, the excitement all settled in. To be back home, to pitch in New York, it’s going to be an amazing time and I can’t wait.”
The Long Island native maintained there are “no hard feelings” between himself and the Blue Jays, the team that drafted him in the first round out of Duke University in 2012.
He said he’ll look back fondly on his eight years in the organization, which included big playoff starts and back-to-back appearances in the American League Championship Series.
“The moments that we’ve had here has been nothing but exciting. I’ll do nothing but look back on these times and be kinda grateful for them all, to be honest with you,” Stroman said. “The frustration is something that happens in an instant and it’s gone in an instant, that’s not something that’s held onto.
“We had a conversation and I voiced my opinion and that’s it. No hard feelings on either end. I’ll be back in Toronto in the near future. I love this city, it’s not the last time I’m going to be here.”
New York opened play Monday with a 50-55 record, good for fourth place in the NL East. There had been talk that the Mets might be sellers at the deadline, with ace Noah Syndergaard (a former Blue Jays prospect himself) rumoured to be available to contending teams.
But New York turned that notion on its head in acquiring Stroman, who held a 2.96 earned-run average through 21 starts with the Blue Jays this season.
“I think it’s an unbelievable team,” Stroman said of the Mets. “I think it’s one of the best staffs in Major League Baseball.”
Stroman’s departure was met with disappointment from Blue Jays fans who had became enamoured with the energetic pitcher from his earliest days with the team.
Stroman had expressed his desire to stay in Toronto multiple times — he even got a tattoo of the city’s skyline on his abdomen in the off-season — but said Blue Jays management had never approached him with an offer for a contract extension.
GM Ross Atkins said Monday that he had had “very, very brief” initial talks with Stroman’s agent throughout the season but “felt as though there was too big of a gap” to delve deeper into formal discussions of a contract extension.
“It’s not that he’s not a good fit, I wouldn’t say that,” Atkins told reporters on a conference call. “I would say that if there was a way for him to be a part of it — and we certainly did work towards that — the initial steps that you take, the discoveries, the due diligence about potential extensions, we felt as though there was too big of a gap.
“I love watching Marcus as a performer, I believe he’s going to go on and be a durable solid major league pitcher and I’ll be excited to watch him do that.”
The rebuilding Blue Jays received a pair of minor league pitching prospects in the deal with New York — 24-year-old left-hander Anthony Kay and 18-year-old right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson.
Kay has struggled to a 1-3 record and a 6.61 ERA in seven starts for triple-A Syracuse after going 7-3 with a 1.76 ERA in 12 starts at double-A Binghamton. Woods Richardson, meanwhile, is 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA in 20 starts for class-A Columbia, with 97 strikeouts in 78 1/3 innings.
Atkins said he’s excited about the potential of both pitchers, calling Woods Richardsdon “one of the most exciting young pitching prospects in baseball.”
“I think the great thing about young players is … how much they can improve in short periods of time,” Atkins said. “And I think when we look up we’ll see where (Woods Richardson) is. … And in Anthony Kay we have a higher probability and we will see what his upside is.
“We’re extremely excited about his potential to help very soon.”