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Pistol referred to this in another thread, and while there's no earth-shaking news, it's worth a look. Alan Ryan of the Star talks to a "very happy" J.P. Ricciardi about his budget and other financial matters. Paul Godfrey reminds enthusiastic Jays fans (guilty, sorry) that the team is only at the second stage of a four-part rebuilding process, and credits the GM for his patience, while J.P. says this about Roy Halladay:

"Next year, we'll definitely be thinking about doing something long term."

That's a vague commitment to an extension, but there's no hurry: Doc is a Blue Jay for three more years via the arbitration process, which begins in earnest next weekend. Now it's time to play a Batter's Box guessing game -- what do the five arb-eligible Toronto players want, and what will they get?

Halladay really earned his $2.5 MM last year. Still a youngster on the rise, with one great season and half of another under his belt, he wouldn't break the bank, but a million-dollar raise seems a bit low to me. The Jays would be ill-advised to take their ace to a hearing, and the negotiations will be a lot friendlier that last winter's public mudslinging with Chris Carpenter and his agent, so if the team offers a reasonable $4 MM, I'm expecting an amicable settlement of around $4.5 MM with some healthy incentives.

Cliff Politte made $245,000 last year (at the time of the trade, I got carried away and said he was ten years younger than Plesac, and ten times better, for a tenth of the price) which should more than triple, and based on what his setup guys got, a million doesn't seem outrageous, so my guess is a $900 K base.

Chris Woodward? A $235,000 bargoon in 2002, but has never played a full season as a big-league regular, and his half-season as the #1 SS was interrupted by injury. $600,000 guaranteed, with six-figure bonuses kicking in at 300 AB, 400 AB, 500 AB, etc., seems about right.

Kelvim Escobar? One of two guys the Jays don't want to take to a hearing (Shannon Stewart is the other) because an arbitrator might be swayed by the agent's case. The closer made $2.3 MM in a typically erratic 2002 campaign, and based on his age, years of service and save numbers, that is sure to go up. How much? Let's just say that what he should get will be less than he does get, as the team will have to compromise to keep this one out of the arbitrator's office.

Stewart made $4.2 MM last year, performed well, and (again, because of his comps in age, years of service and performance) is assured of a substantial raise. So here's my ballot in the "Arbitration Price Is Right" sweepstakes:

Halladay $4.5 MM
Escobar $3.75 MM
Stewart $5.25 MM
Politte $900 K
Woodward $600 K

Total? $15 million, a bit more than the team would like to pay, which means that the extra cash jingling in J.P.'s pocket (according to the article, he's still bargain shopping for another pitcher) isn't really there. And while I admit to impersonating Dan O'Dowd with an outrageous offer from the Rockies, I hope Doc will feel by 2004 that he's on the verge of a Cy Young and a pennant right where he is, and take a "hometown" discount to stay in a foreign country.

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Pistol - Saturday, January 11 2003 @ 01:11 PM EST (#99567) #
I don't have any clue about the comparibles for any of the players, so I won't put in any guesses.

However, is there anything to read between the lines on JP not offering Halladay an extension now? Some possibilities:

1. He thinks 2002 was not enough to confirm that Halladay is a top pitcher. (Should there be concern that his K rate isn't great?)

2. He thinks that there's no savings to buying out the arbitration years

3. He does not want to guarantee 4 years to Halladay now

4. He thinks the market for a top pitcher will decrease like other free agents have seen this year

I suspect it's a little bit of #2 and #3.

Any other possibilities?
Pistol - Saturday, January 11 2003 @ 01:27 PM EST (#99568) #
Since JP is looking for another Stutze-ish player, what's the possibility that either Rick Helling or Ismael Valdes are brought in for one year/$1 million?

Neyer had a column on the remaining free agents (linked in the homepage) and those were the 2 pitchers that seemed to fit the bill.
Coach - Saturday, January 11 2003 @ 01:57 PM EST (#99569) #
Pistol, no need to offer Doc an extension; maintaining flexibility on as many contracts as possible for as long as possible (your #3) seems to be right alongside OBP in J.P.'s philosophy. It would really just make us fans feel better, and it's hard to determine whether it would save much money (your #2) in the long run, as baseball's economic upheaval is such a recent phenomenon. Going to an actual arbitration hearing, and the necessary rhetoric that entails, could affect the relationship, but as long as both sides can agree on acceptable one-year salaries, there's no reason to be concerned. By 2005, Halladay's value will be well established (presumably near the top of whatever the pay scale may be; i.e. your #4) and both the team and the player will face more difficult decisions.

I'm resisting the urge to say the "C" word again; OK, before this market Correction, I would have guessed a minimum of two years and $5 MM for Valdes, who I think is an underestimated pitcher. Now, it's unlikely he'll get anywhere near that. A lot depends on whether he and his advisors -- the same applies to Helling and other available FA -- accept one year and try their luck again next winter, or wait, in hope of a last-minute buying frenzy. Once a player decides to sign for his "new" (reduced) value, he can get it anywhere, and the situation becomes important -- contending team or also-ran, job descrition, and so on. So I can't make a specific prediction, but another innings-eater won't cost much, and if the Jays do better than my guesses with their five arbitration cases, the guys you and Neyer mention are solid possibilities.
_R Billie - Saturday, January 11 2003 @ 02:30 PM EST (#99570) #
Well think of it this way...if the Jays give Roy a four year deal now, they buy out his arbitration years but only one free agent year. If they wait a year and do three and an option, they have Roy until 2006 at least...enough to keep him for a serious run at contention.
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