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By 5pm today we will know if the Blue Jays have extended a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson.  The qualifying offer does not guarantee that JJ will return but it seems inlikely that a team would sign Johnson and surrender a first round draft pick as well.

The Jays have had lots of time to debate this, does the thin market for free agent pitchers over-ride Johnson's terrible 2013?  Does Johnson's post season surgery help or hinder the process?  What are the "payroll paramaters" for 2014, will the offer to Johnson deplete the Jays pocketbook?

I assume that AA will hit the airwaves once the decision is announced so we should get the logic then.

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mike in boston - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 10:04 AM EST (#280303) #
I would be shocked if they didn't bring him back.

If the Jays were only a starting pitcher away from having a top rotation, then I could see dumping JJ and targeting someone else. But that's not the case. In light of the tremendous bounce back seasons of some of the Red Sox pitchers, and given that AA traded for JJ, the safer bet is that the Jays will choose to give it another go in 2014. They are going to need a lot of things to break right, and so you might as well throw as much spaghetti at the wall as possible.
China fan - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 10:05 AM EST (#280304) #
For what it's worth, Jon Heyman of CBS is saying that it is "unlikely" that the Jays will give a QO to Johnson.
China fan - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 10:09 AM EST (#280305) #
I can see a plausible argument for giving the QO to Johnson, but I can also see an equally plausible case for letting him go. A lot of it will be based on medical information that we (as fans) just don't have access to. But the Jays, based on the medical tests and their assessment of his health, might easily conclude that a Drew Hutchison or a Marcus Stroman is just as likely to give the Jays the same level of starter performance as Johnson in 2014, and for a helluva lot less money.
SK in NJ - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 10:24 AM EST (#280307) #

We are Blue Jays fans. We know how this is going to end.

QO is not offered, Johnson goes somewhere else, puts up a 'Top 10 in Cy Young voting" season, and we as fans wonder what went wrong.

In all seriousness, I think the Jays should trade some deadweight (specificially Happ and Izturis) and give the QO to Johnson (unless they are confident that they could sign him without the QO for less money, which I doubt). The free agent market for pitchers is not very good, and JJ at worst would be a one year committment. I realize the risk involved with him and Morrow in the same rotation, but I think there is enough depth this season to offset the risk somewhat (assuming Hutchison is healthy, combined with Stroman and Nolin).

The Jays have to watch their long-term payroll and lack the trade assets they had last season. Johnson is probably the lesser of the two evils (the other evil being trading Sanchez/Stroman/etc for immediate non-elite help).

whiterasta80 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 10:24 AM EST (#280308) #
I suspect we'll qualify him but I can't say that I agree with the move. For one thing I keep hearing that this is a shallow free agent pool for starters- but I just don't see it.

I see Tanaka, Garza, Kuroda, Jiminez, Kazmir, Nolasco, Colon, Arroyo, Feldman, Haren, Vargas, Maholm, Hammel, Halladay, Santana, and Hudson all available.

Based on what I saw last year, the health questions, and relative costs I'd take any of the above over Johnson. Only the first 6 are likely to get anywhere near 14 million and I am substantially more comfortable with them. The next 7 are all innings eaters that can be relied upon and if I'm betting on former aces trying to recapture past glory then I take Halladay or Santana.
John Northey - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 10:44 AM EST (#280310) #
whiterasta80 - not all of those guys are actually available.
Tanaka: posting process, odds are slim of winning that as both the Yankees & Dodgers are said to be mulling crazy bids to avoid the luxury tax
Garza: Lifetime 1.0 HR/9, 1.2 last year - not a good thing in the SkyDome
Kuroda: either stays in NY or goes back to Japan
Jiminez: thought it was a team option, but it was a mutual one so he is available
Kazmir: an interesting one but high risk
Nolasco: no compensation so very tempting, but also just a 94 ERA+ lifetime so not much upside.
Colon: wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole
Arroyo: Buehrle light - 104 ERA+ lifetime, 199+ IP every year since 2005 but 1.2 HR/9 lifetime which is scary in the dome
Feldman: 96 ERA+ lifetime
Haren: 112 ERA+ lifetime but 88 and 81 the past 2 years...we have enough of those here already
Vargas: 91 ERA+ lifetime
Maholm: 96 ERA+ lifetime
Hammel: 94 ERA+ lifetime
Halladay: recovering from his worst season since that 10+ ERA season way back when
Santana: a 100 ERA+ lifetime, 127 last year but again over 1 for HR/9 so very risky for Jays to look at
Hudson: 124 ERA+ lifetime but a 97 last year - low K/9 (6.1 lifetime) and injury issues.  Worth a flyer but not one to count on

I see lots of guys who would fit right in with the crowd we have here already.  For guys with high potential who you could compare to JJ I see Halladay, Hudson, Garza, Kazmir and Jiminez plus Tanaka but each has issues that make one go 'uh oh'.  A shame we cannot see 2 months from now to see what some of these guys get but Lincecum after 2 years of ERA+'s sub 80 getting $35 mil over 2 years ($17.5 per) suggests the market could be nuts.  If the Jays medical staff feels safe to give JJ a clean bill of health then I'd go for it.
Wildrose - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 10:44 AM EST (#280311) #
This is one tough decision. The medicals could conversely show that he's healthy and ready to go ( well as ready as any pitcher can be - especially somebody with his health history ). For me it's all about how much payroll you have to spend and I've argued that they should have plenty of resources this off-season. If they don't qualify him that's perhaps a signal that payroll is somewhat tight.

Over at Blue-Bird Banter they did a poll with over 700 responses, 69% voted in favor of extending a Q.O. I must admit that surprised me a bit. What ever happens today it'll certainly be fodder for much discussion and controversy.

ComebyDeanChance - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 11:10 AM EST (#280313) #
The right to make a qualifying offer is the remaining piece of the Miami trade for Toronto in respect of Johnson. There's nothing left at all in respect of Bonifacio. The right to make a qualifying offer gets them either a draft pick, or a one year deal for 14.1 mil. If Johnson had a good year, they'd get a draft pick but no shot at a one year deal and maybe not much of a shot at re-signing him period. They still may get a draft pick.

Unlike others, I'm not sanguine about the chances of the likes of Kuroda (who turned down staying with LA to go to the Yankees), or Jiminez, or many on the above list, deciding to play for Toronto. In fact I think it's ridiculous to suggest Kuroda would be playing here, and at best, highly unlikely that Tanaka would end up here. Johnson they may have an easy shot at a 1 year deal for him, and I think they should take it.
SK in NJ - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 11:17 AM EST (#280314) #

I think some people are assuming a lot of things with the free agent market, especially that pitchers would want to come to Toronto. Johnson is going to accept the QO. He won't get $14M anywhere else, and he is actively seeking a one year deal according to reports. In other words, if the Jays want JJ, they won't have to court him or convince him or take him to dinner. Just offer the QO, and he'll jump on it in a second. It's pretty simple.

I think the Jays should take advantage of the QO in this case. It is in their favor. Obviously, if JJ is still hurt or they conclude he will have to miss some time next season, then that changes things, but assuming he should be good to go for ST and the doctors give him a clean bill of health, then I'd definitely be disappointed if the Jays cheaped out on him, especially if the alternative is Ervin Santana for four years.

BlueJayWay - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 11:36 AM EST (#280318) #
Prediction: Jays will extend a QO and JJ will accept.
ayjackson - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 11:46 AM EST (#280319) #
I can't see a QO unless there's a handshake agreement to turn it down. (which was suggested at one point I think on PTS)
Mike Green - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 11:47 AM EST (#280320) #
I confess to some skepticism about Johnson's indication that he might play here if he isn't qualified because of his admiration for the organization.  Watching him out on the mound, he seemed perturbed by the quality of the defence behind him and this, I felt, contributed to his poor performance with runners on last year.  On the open market, he'll get a pillow contract and there are more comfortable pillows available elsewhere.

This doesn't cut one way or the other on the question about whether he should or should not be qualified.  With the current defence behind him, I think you've got to look at an ERA of between 3.7 and 4.0 and 140-150 innings as an average performance for him in Toronto. His seasonal ERAs have bounced up and down but the xFIP has been within a much narrower range.  If you've got a budget of $160 million, you can certainly make a case for qualifying him.

92-93 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 11:49 AM EST (#280321) #
I don't understand how a handshake agreement would benefit Josh Johnson.
ayjackson - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 11:59 AM EST (#280323) #
92-93, I think the suggestion was that the Jays would guarantee him a certain contract (say, 1 yr, $6m) if he can't latch on to a team during the winter.
Gerry - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 12:11 PM EST (#280324) #
Just thinking about this....if the Jays give JJ a qualifying offer part of the value would be the ability to extend another QO at the end of 2014.  That has value to the Jays and a potential cost to JJ.  Maybe the Jays could offer say $12M with a clause not to give JJ a QO at the end of 2014?
92-93 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 12:22 PM EST (#280325) #
I still don't really see how that benefits JJ, ayjackson. I don't think Johnson needs the Blue Jays to feel secure he can get a one year deal in that range; that's what Brett Myers, Scott Feldman, & Scott Baker landed last offseason. If the Jays aren't willing to pay Johnson the qualifying offer it makes little sense for him to return here. Johnson is clearly looking to rebuild his value on a 1 year deal and doing so in the AL East at the Skydome is a pretty tall task.
SK in NJ - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 12:35 PM EST (#280326) #

Johnson only benefits by signing with the Jays if the QO is offered. That is more guaranteed money than any other team will offer him (by a huge margin). 

If the QO is not offered, and the money he is offered by teams is in the same vicinity, then he has no reason to sign with the Jays. They offer him no advantage at all. The Jays play in the toughest league, the toughest division, and a homer-happy home stadium. He'd settle for that if it came with a guaranteed $14M, but if it is $6M plus incentives, then he's better off taking less money and going to the Cardinals or Giants or Padres or (insert NL team with big ballpark).

ayjackson - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 12:39 PM EST (#280327) #

I don't think Johnson needs the Blue Jays to feel secure he can get a one year deal in that range

But then maybe the guarantee is at a price where he is less secure. Which should certainly be below $14.1m.  I don't think it is likely, but there is an amount that it could make sense for JJ.

greenfrog - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 12:45 PM EST (#280328) #
I'll go with the prediction I've been making for months now. No QO to JJ. Too much money, too many red flags.
Wildrose - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 01:01 PM EST (#280329) #
Just thinking about this....if the Jays give JJ a qualifying offer part of the value would be the ability to extend another QO at the end of 2014.  That has value to the Jays and a potential cost to JJ.  Maybe the Jays could offer say $12M with a clause not to give JJ a QO at the end of 2014?

Very perceptive Gerry, I've been wondering about that scenario. It seems something must be going on behind the scenes, otherwise why not make the Q.O. announcement now. Perhaps they are trying to extract some sort of mutually beneficial option for 2015 and beyond. I mean there must be a part of Johnson that thinks if I put up 2 crappy years in a row maybe I'll never make it back, better to take some money up front now.

I agree with Mike that improved defence behind Johnson would help him and a lot of the other pitchers quite a bit. 
92-93 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 01:02 PM EST (#280330) #
"But then maybe the guarantee is at a price where he is less secure. Which should certainly be below $14.1m. I don't think it is likely, but there is an amount that it could make sense for JJ."

I guess I just don't see it. If the Jays are willing to guarantee Johnson something in between your 6m and the qualifying offer, it makes little sense to me to then lose Johnson on a one year deal for around 4m because you didn't want to qualify him. For a team that doesn't get involved in the FA market Johnson represents the only opportunity to upgrade your rotation without having to trade away assets. If he's healthy, qualify him.
ComebyDeanChance - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 01:14 PM EST (#280331) #
It seems something must be going on behind the scenes, otherwise why not make the Q.O. announcement now.

So that other teams make their moves without the foreknowledge of yours. Gerry, your scenario makes sense, except that foregoing a first round draft pick would be a significant loss. I'd think Toronto would be better to just extend the offer and sign him if that's what happens, then to save a couple of mil and giving up a pick. There's little upside for Toronto in that.
greenfrog - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 01:18 PM EST (#280332) #
Johnson is both a performance and a durability risk. Subjectively (advanced metrics aside), I was not particularly impressed by him in 2013. For me, the bone spur removal surgery doesn't change a whole lot. Pass.
Wildrose - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 01:19 PM EST (#280333) #
Further to the above , the biggest problem with free agents salaries is there length , not their annual value. Boston did this last year, slightly overpaying several free agents in the short term verses making long term commitments. I'm sure there's nights where AA wonders what the hell was I thinking taking on Jose Reyes long term contract? For a large market team like Toronto $ 14.1 million/year should be something they can handle. If he rebounds they can take the pick next year, trade him at the deadline or reap the rewards of his comeback. If he fails it's the cost of doing business ( although the new CEO from England may not see it that way). At the Blue Jays revenue level there is really no such thing as a bad 1 year contract.
Wildrose - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 01:37 PM EST (#280335) #
So that other teams make their moves without the foreknowledge of yours.  

Perhaps. From the Lott/Davidi book excerpt last year roughly at this time AA  was heavily involved in negotiations with the White Sox regarding Jake Peavy.

The book also details later subsequent interest in Danny Haren, a 5 year/ 75 million offer to Anibal Sanchez made after a meeting with Sanchez in Miami and an offer of DArnuad for Shields. So yes, lots of stuff happening behind the scenes.
John Northey - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 02:20 PM EST (#280337) #
Not a major shock by any means.  I thought they might offer due to the potential for a crazy market but there are no shortage of reasons not to offer a QO.  Now, if he goes out and has an ERA around 3 next year over 160+ IP the Jays will be frustrated but otherwise AA should look OK.

Big question now is who do you get?

China fan - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 02:36 PM EST (#280338) #
According to Gregor Chisholm, the Jays are not currently negotiating a contract with Johnson either. So he becomes a free agent. I still think it might be possible to bring him back on an incentive-laden contract (since the Jays are saying that they are open to incentives in contracts now), but this seems significantly less likely now. I don't see the Jays getting into a bidding war for Johnson's services if some other deep-pocketed team wants him.
whiterasta80 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 02:37 PM EST (#280339) #
Regarding my list:

1. I agree that Kuroda isn't likely to come here- but he is a FA and technically an option.

2. I was actually referring to Johan Santana and not Ervin, but yeah I'll take him too.

3. You say Arroyo is Buerhle-lite like it is a bad thing. I'd kill for another Buerhle on this pitching staff.

4. Garza's career #s at the dome (1.00 WHIP, .224 BAA, 1 HR in 53 IP). That spans mostly years where the Jays were amongst the league leaders in HRs.

5. Feldman, Vargas, Maholm, Hammel, Colon, Nolasco, Hudson and Haren all would have been massive upgrades over what we threw out there this year (including Josh Johnson- 2013 ERA+ 66). If history is any indication they are also far more likely to throw 200 innings than he is.

6. With Lincecum he at least showed health and an ability to pitch 200 innings this year. JJ showed neither of those things and we are discussing handing him similar AAV. Lincecum was also better both this year and historically.

Personally I'll take my chances that at least 1-2 of the pitchers I listed above are left searching for contracts at the end of all this.

I liken it to last offseason: Josh Johnson is Dan Haren: a diminishing former ace with questionable health. Haren's numbers actually topped JJ's in both career and most recent season but we will ignore that for the sake of this exercise.

Last offseason you could have qualified Haren at 13 million, or you could have waited on Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster or Kyle Lohse, paid a similar price and gotten equivalent or better results.

If you dug little deeper you could have added 2-3 of Shaun Marcum, Carlos Villaneueva, Bartolo Colon, Joe Saunders, Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Scott Feldman and Joe Blanton. That would have been "dumpster diving" however all except Blanton and Saunders were as good or better than Haren. All but Marcum and Baker remained relatively healthy.

Even with my belief that the Jays payroll goes to 150 million I wouldn't qualify.
whiterasta80 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 02:40 PM EST (#280340) #
Right decision (see above). If Johnson goes out and puts up 160 IP and a sub 3.5 ERA then it will be a reward for some team taking a chance on him as it was for the Pirates and Liriano last offseason. That chance should not cost 14 million in AAV.

I'd offer him the same contract as Liriano originally received: 2x 6.375.

Shaker - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 02:42 PM EST (#280341) #
So I guess we're going to package JPA, Redmond, Izturis and Lind for King Felix...
92-93 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 02:44 PM EST (#280342) #
"I'd kill for another Buerhle on this pitching staff."

If your target was Ricky Romero, that might free up some payroll.
China fan - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 02:48 PM EST (#280343) #
"....If your target was Ricky Romero, that might free up some payroll...."

Good point. And an interesting test of the "guaranteed" contract. Would the money still have to be paid to his estate?
Wildrose - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 03:23 PM EST (#280344) #
Well we'll see what plan B is.....

I do think though, that the fan base deserves an explanation.

Certainly the early returns on the big Miami trade have not been exactly encouraging.

Mike Green - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 03:29 PM EST (#280345) #
I am OK with this decision.  As I have said, I don't see pitching as the top priority of the organization.  Take some of the money that you'd spend on Johnson and put it to Mark Ellis and a catcher.
Chuck - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 03:31 PM EST (#280346) #
Based on his health history, I'd be very surprised to see Johnson get a guaranteed offer of $10M from anyone. I can see a team offering $5-6M with incentives (based on playing time of course, the only incentives allowed) taking the amount to $12-15M, for 180 innings or so.
92-93 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 03:40 PM EST (#280347) #
The last thing the Blue Jays need to do this winter is spend significant dollars on a 37 year old 2B who can't hit RHP.
China fan - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 03:57 PM EST (#280348) #
"....I can see a team offering $5-6M with incentives (based on playing time of course, the only incentives allowed) taking the amount to $12-15M, for 180 innings or so..."

That's the kind of contract that the Jays could offer him. It would make a lot more sense than a $14-million gamble on a guy who might be unable to do better than the 81 innings he pitched this year. Of course the risk is that another team might just offer him $10-million in a Ben Sheets type of deal, and then he's gone.
Mike Green - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 04:03 PM EST (#280349) #
spend significant dollars on a 37 year old 2B who can't hit RHP.

The Dodgers didn't want to spend 4.75 million for the option.  Would $4 million on a 1 year contract be "significant dollars" or chump change?  And if not Ellis, then who do you suggest the club should target, if anybody, to address the second base issue?  It is a respectable position to say that Goins/Izturis is enough, but for myself, I'd rather have Ellis than either of them, and the organization isn't exactly awash in middle infield depth. 

92-93 - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 04:16 PM EST (#280350) #
Judging by the projections for Johnson's salary and the Jays' decision not to make the QO, $4 million is certainly significant dollars, and way too much to pay a guy who shouldn't be facing right-handed pitchers. Maicer already has the team's investment in an aging, mediocre MI locked up.

John Northey - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 04:22 PM EST (#280351) #
2B and catcher are what I see as the top two spots to be concerned with.  Checking Steamer (the projection system currently available on FanGraphs) I see Goins is listed at 240/280/331 for a 611 OPS.  Izturis hit 236/288/310 last year (598 OPS) - not significantly different.  Of course, Izturis was also very poor with the glove vs Goins being inhuman with it in his limited time.  Odds are in 2014 though that Goins would be above average but not 'holy cow' with defense to go with that horrid bat.  That is not championship material, that is backup material.  He is the new John McDonald at $2-3 million a year less.

For 2B what about Omar Infante?  A 93 OPS+ lifetime, 113 last year - that translates into about 100 points more (his lifetime mark) vs what we should expect from Goins.  He was a +2 UZR/150 last year and 3.2 lifetime thus a solid defensive guy who has played a bit at 3B, SS, and the OF in the past when needed.  Some feel he will get about double what Izturis got and he looks worth it (ie: $6 mil a year for 2-3 years). 
Mike Green - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 04:32 PM EST (#280352) #
Ellis plays second base well enough that he contributes something even facing RHP some of the time.  He is a better player than Izturis- always was and still is.
Shaker - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 05:07 PM EST (#280353) #
No one's defending Izturis.  He's just ours.

Kozma's .548 OPS pretty much was "championship material" this year...

Let's save the $6M on a 2B and invest it in the insanity that is Brian McCann's contract!

Chuck - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 05:20 PM EST (#280354) #
Kozma's .548 OPS pretty much was "championship material" this year

I'll assume that's sarcasm. If not, then Kozma was only almost sporting a WS ring because the Cardinals were able to win despite a replacement-level shortstop, not thanks to a replacement-level shortstop.

China fan - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 05:22 PM EST (#280355) #
".....He is a better player than Izturis- always was and still is...."

Recall that a year ago, on this very site, Mike was advocating that the Jays should pursue and sign Izturis. Which actually did seem like a reasonable suggestion at the time. And a reminder of how little we all know about future performance.
Richard S.S. - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 05:39 PM EST (#280356) #
I strongly believe A.A. acquires a Front-of-the-Rotation Pitcher sometime this month, usually an active time for A.A. I'd be happy with "New Acquisition" and R.A. Dickey as 1 and 1A / 1A and 1, either works. There's a notable gap to the Number Three Starter. Buehrle's a good Pitcher. I'd just like someone better than him as our #3.

Is Josh Johnson that? I don't think so. Is someone else that? I hope so. Brandon Morrow would be a good fit here, except there's a wee problem. Rehabbing an injury that had surgery as a serious consideration doesn't always work. Surgery for his injury, 6-8 months recovery. Even if it does work, can he pitch 200 innings?
greenfrog - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 06:56 PM EST (#280358) #
I was lukewarm at best on signing Izturis, citing his age and marked decline in 2012. I never understood why it was assumed that as a 32-year-old MI he would bounce back to his pre-2012 performance level.
PeterG - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 06:56 PM EST (#280359) #
Speaking of which, does anyone (Gerry perhaps) have a current update on Mr. Morrow. Very little, if anything, has appeared in print since he was to start throwing around October 1.
Magpie - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 07:21 PM EST (#280361) #
I don't see pitching as the top priority of the organization.

Although when your starting pitchers had the 29th best ERA in the majors, it might be something of an issue.
John Northey - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 08:05 PM EST (#280363) #
Starting pitching sucked last year, no question.  How will it be in 2014? That is the challenge.
In 2012 the rotation had a 4.82 ERA in 916 IP.
In 2013 the rotation had a 4.81 ERA in 899.1 IP

Now that really, really is frustrating for AA I'm sure.  You add a Cy Young winner, a solid 200+ IP guy, and a potential ace with injury issues and you get fewer innings and the same ERA (OK, 0.01 lower).  So how to fix?

Good signs... Dickey & Buehrle were better in the 2nd half and given both shifted from the NL to AL there is reason to believe it was an adjustment period. 
Bad signs... Johnson is gone, Morrow is recovering from injury, Romero is messed up royally
Who knows... Esmil Rogers was OK (4.89 ERA) as a swingman, Todd Redmond 4.41 ERA was better than we though but neither should be counted on as more than #7 or 8 on the depth chart
Known... Happ is mediocre but useful as a #6
Unknowns... Hutchison, Drabek coming back from surgery, many kids trying to impress, whatever retreads are signed to minor league deals as depth ala Ortiz last winter

Leaving one or two slots for the non-Dickey/Buehrle crew is OK, but no way should 3 slots be left open and ideally it would be just one for them to fight over.  Btw, for that 2012 rotation only Morrow and Jenkins were below 4.50 for ERA while in 2013 it was Jenkins, Buehrle, Dickey, and Redmond.  Wonder what Jenkins needs to do to get more than 3 starts in a season?

As to payroll, B-R lists it as a range (depending on arbitration and options picked up or not) of $139 mil in 2014, $124.5 to $156.2 in 2015, $72 to $134 in 2016 then it drops off to sub $90 mil after that.
Mike Green - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 08:15 PM EST (#280364) #
It's true that I advocated signing Izturis last year.  I still think that he can bounce back with the bat, but he has lost a step.
greenfrog - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 08:28 PM EST (#280366) #
The Jays need someone who can pitch at the front of the rotation, with the #4 and 5 slots going to the best (and healthiest) of Morrow, Happ, Hutchison, Nolin, Stroman, Redmond and Romero. If AA can land another quality starter, so much the better.

The Jays have had chances to acquire front-rotation starters in recent years (Darvish, Latos, Gio). Not sure if they have the pieces to make a deal happen this time around. I think Iwakuma would be a good target, if Seattle can be persuaded to part with him. He's not quite an ace, but he's very good, very affordable and controllable for a couple of years.

I would rank the Jays' priorities as (1) front-rotation SP, (2) starting catcher, (3) starting second baseman, (4) mid-rotation SP, (5) two-way corner OF. In other words, this team needs an overhaul. I have my doubts as to whether it can be done; I think the team is more likely to be an 82-win team than a 92-win team. You never know, though.

At least the Jays didn't swap Lawrie for Pineda, or sign E-Jax to a four- or five-year deal...
greenfrog - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 08:33 PM EST (#280367) #
I should add: (6) outstanding defensive SS. I admire Dombrowski for snagging Iglesias - I would have liked to see the Jays add him as a late-inning defensive replacement, sometime starter and injury insurance.
SK in NJ - Monday, November 04 2013 @ 09:27 PM EST (#280368) #
"I strongly believe A.A. acquires a Front-of-the-Rotation Pitcher sometime this month, usually an active time for A.A."

While none of us know who is available, expecting AA to acquire a front of the rotation starter seems like a pretty tall order. Teams usually hold on to those types, unless they are massively expensive, and the Jays aren't exactly dripping with prospects to trade like they were at this time last year.

I hope you are right and he surprises us with a frontline starter that no one was expecting to be available, but I'm expecting something closer to Ervin Santana than a legit ace.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 12:41 AM EST (#280370) #
I follow as much about the Jays as I can. I have a Podcast App on my phone which let's me follow Tim and Sid; Jeff Blair; Primetime Sports; Mike Wilner and Keith Law.

A.A. was on PTS ( I can't remember when), talking about his early talks with GMs. He was really surprised by who was available in trades. Then, out of the blue, Jeff Blair (25th or 28th) is saying A.A. will acquire a young-ish (under 30) front of the rotation pitcher in a roster changing move. Wow! That was unexpected.
bpoz - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 10:08 AM EST (#280371) #
I liked it better when AA said very little. Actually he still is quiet about his intentions. When he first got the job he said that he constantly spoke to all the GMs. This way he has an idea of what each team is trying to do. I do not remember anyone saying much about the Marlins trade. But the Dickey trade was talked about a lot before it happened as I recall. After the Marlins trade he said that he approached them about just 1 player. Does anyone remember who that player was? Then the trade evolved into a block buster.

NYY have to be big players this off season because of missing the playoffs.
Wildrose - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 12:38 PM EST (#280375) #
Hard to know what this team will do. The Anibal Sanchez pursuit of last season at least shows they are willing to spend money on free agent pitchers. Sanchez wanted a sixth year added to the contract, which the Jays were unsure about ( they offered 5/75 million). Eventually Sanchez got a sixth year option from the Tigers at 16 million and the rest is history.

I'll throw a name out there given that it's pretend hot stove season. The team is being somewhat more cautious about " managing injury risk " better this next season per AA. I believe in the end that was the determining factor with Josh Johnson. Just too much uncertainty.

The biggest hurdle with getting players to come to Toronto is that most players view it as being a somewhat Frozen Foreign Northern Wasteland. When they get here though, they discover the summers are rather nice, the streets much more safer than in American cities of a similar size and that generally it's a pretty nice place.

The guy I think they should pursue is A.J. Burnett. I know he is on the record as saying he'll either retire or remain with the Pirates. I'm skeptical though, guys usually don't retire when there still pretty good. Also I think things may go sideways pretty quick with the Pirates ( not to mention there is some lingering bitterness that he did not get the game 5 play-off start). They did not, rather surprisingly give him a qualifying offer. The early indications out of Pittsburgh is that they are going to try to low ball him in terms of an extension.

He has a comfort level with Toronto having been on the team previously. Gibbons was his manager during his tenure here, and they seemed to have a good rapport. Pat Hentgen is a buddy of his , in fact he was in the group that originally convinced A.J. to sign up here. Pete Walker was a former teammate, so he does have some personal connections with Toronto.

He's still damn good. He's a horse, since 2008 the least amount of innings he's had is 187 in 2010. His XFIP in the past 3 years, 3.86, 3.40 , 2.92 . He led the N.L. in K/9 ratio. He was second in all of  MLB starters in ground ball % ( maybe good in Rogers Centre, not so good with our middle infield). He's become a different pitcher lately, he uses his fastball less, relying more on his spike curveball ( in fact this pitch per Fangraphs is the most effective in all of baseball). Going forward I think he can still miss bats.

His off season home is near Baltimore. He has 2 boys, one in Junior High the other in about grade six. I think he's genuine when he says he wants to spend more time with them. If he goes on the market, Baltimore , Washington and maybe Philly have a regional advantage. I think it would come down to money and term ( and maybe renting a private jet to get his kids up here on occasion - it seems his wife is somewhat over her fear of flying -in his last contract here he had 8 limo rides built into it per year ).
I think you'd have to go 2 years at somewhere over 15 million/year and a third year may have to be considered perhaps as a mutual option.

Can it be done? Who knows, just tossing another log on the fire.....

Richard S.S. - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 12:55 PM EST (#280376) #
When A.A. approached Miami initially it was about Josh Johnson. They were asking for Top Stud Prospects so A.A. asked what it would take to add Reyes and Buehrle. Miami might have got more moving each piece, but that's just my guess. The trade leaked over the the Mathis inclusion part, as it was the part that really dragged.

The Florida Trade was downright chatty in comparison. The trade was a done deal by the timing of the leak. The extension provision was the delaying item. Big market team don't control leaks well. "They" try to hurry it along when it drags too much, like most deals. Desperate for attention or something.
John Northey - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 01:38 PM EST (#280377) #
Quick look at free agents via B-R...
Top lifetime OPS - Todd Helton who is 40 and probably retiring
Top OPS by someone who might do that again: Robinson Cano at 31 with a 860
Top catcher OPS: Brian McCann at 823 (don't count Mike Napoli as he seems to be a 1B/DH now)
Best OPS for someone under 30: Delmon Young at 739 closely followed by Jarrod Saltalamacchia at 738.

Highest lifetime WAR: Carlos Beltran who the Jays were close to getting a few years ago
Lowest lifetime WAR: Wil Nieves at -2.27, but he is a catcher :)

For pitchers there are 6 with 50+ WAR lead by Roy HalladayJohan Santana is interesting if his HR rate can come down from 1.3 per 9 IP. 
John Northey - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 01:43 PM EST (#280378) #
Two very interesting names on the sub-30 pitcher list...
Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.  Of the 7 sub-30 pitchers the Yankees also have a 3rd in Boone Logan.  Weird that the Yankees have so many sub-30 free agents.

The 3 oldest are all retiring (Mariano Rivera, Darren Oliver, and Andy Pettitte)  Of the 6 oldest 2 were Yankees and 2 Jays (also Ramon Ortiz).  For hitters 3 of the 6 sub 30's are Red Sox (Brandon Snyder, Quintin Berry, Jarrod Saltalamacchia)
Mike Green - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 03:11 PM EST (#280379) #
Dave Cameron has his five free-agent bargains, which does contain some interesting names for the home nine.  The contract lengths and dollar sources were crowdsourced. 
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 03:14 PM EST (#280380) #
The top Free Agents Starters are:
Mashiro Tanaka: it will be interesting to watch.
Ervin Santana: will be very pricey, but someone I'd like.
Matt Garza: pitched just 259 inning the last two seasons. Not interested.
Hiroki Kuroda: end has to come sometime. Not interested.
A.J. Burnett: too old, not interested.
Ubaldo Jimenez: would be a good acquisition I'd like to see.
Scott Kazmir: might be an interesting acquisition.
Ricky Nolasco: Kazmir got more upside, 5th starter. Don't know.
Bronson Arroyo: too old, not interested.
Scott Feldman: I have no idea of his value.
Josh Johnson: not interested.
Tim Hudson: too old, not interested.
Dan Haren: best days behind him.
Jason Vargas: I have no idea of his value.
Suk-min Yoon: another interesting too watch saga.
Phil Hughes: has he any upside or value?
Paul Maholm: no idea and no interest.
Jason Hammel: health issues?
Roy Halladay: health issues?

I don't know who A.A.'s first pitching acquisition will be, but a second one from those I like on this list wouldn't hurt as 3rd or 4th Starter.
John Northey - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 03:31 PM EST (#280381) #
The bargain free agents who play somewhere the Jays need...
  • If Infante can be had for $27 over 3 years the Jays should be in there big time.  Would be solid at 2B most likely. As always, hope the scouting reports are more solid than the ones on JJ were.
  • Kazmir is big time scouts needed - from indy league to solid? Very nervous but if for real 2 years at $17 mil total would be a bargain
  • Chris Young - a CF could be mixed into LF but not really a fit
  • Roberto Hernandez - low K/9 high HR/9 not a fit
  • Brian McCann - a perfect fit, solid hitting catcher.  If he got their crowd sourcing 4/$60 that would be a very solid catch but odds are 5/$90 is closer to the mark I suspect and still tempting given the massive hole catcher has been

So I'd go for Infante & McCann while kicking tires on Kazmir. 

Mike Green - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 03:55 PM EST (#280382) #
Some additional items on Kazmir.  His performance was pretty good all the way around.  Velocity was up.  Control was good.  Contact rate was way down, near his peak levels.  Best of all, he threw 150 innings and was a bear in September.   His worst outing of the season was his first against Houston, as he gave up 6 runs in 3 innings (the Indians won the game 19-6).  As a cautionary note, he did put up his best numbers in 5 starts against Minnesota (he only faced the Tigers twice). 
John Northey - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 04:21 PM EST (#280383) #
Kazmir vs the AL East...
Yankees: 6 IP 4 R/ER
Red Sox: 5 IP 2 R/ER
Orioles: 7 IP 1 R/ER
Rays: N/A
Jays: N/A
18 IP 7 R/ER = 3.50 ERA - not bad.  Vs teams 500+ his ERA was 4.69 over 80 2/3 IP.  Is he worth pursuing?  Hard to say.  If anyone gives him a multi-year deal they'll be taking a big risk and I wouldn't be shocked to see 3/$30 for him from someone.  Could be a bargain, could be a disaster. Just too hard to tell at this point.
Mike Green - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 04:35 PM EST (#280384) #
I do think that Cameron is right that Kazmir would be relatively good value at the crowdsourced contract length and dollar amount. 
Wildrose - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 05:33 PM EST (#280385) #
Kazmir is interesting. You'd have to accept in terms of recurring injury risk he's just a smidgen better than Johnson and maybe in the vicinity of Morrow in terms of durability. Still he's pretty young and if you could get him on a relatively short term contract he could potentially help.

Here's what Law said about him in his free agent rankings at # 20 :

Kazmir was out of organized baseball in 2012 and hadn't been above replacement level in the majors since 2008, but the time off and some mechanical tweaks have helped him recover his lost velocity. After working in the offseason with private pitching coach Ron Wolforth, he's sinking the ball more, and more effectively, than when he tried to remake himself in that vein in 2011.

Kazmir is getting better leverage off his back leg and rotating his upper body more completely; it's a delivery that looks more violent but brought back some of his lost velocity and allowed him to throw his slider for strikes. He has qualified just twice for the ERA title, the last time in 2007, so he shouldn't be paid like a mid-rotation starter even though his peripherals say he was one, but two years and $5 million to $6 million per year wouldn't be as insane as it sounds.

Wildrose - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 07:39 PM EST (#280388) #
I don't see a fit here with McCann. Three large market free spending teams including Boston, the Yankees and Rangers are in hot pursuit. Initial bidding is rumored to have hit 6 years/ 120 million. I think to sign him you'd have to pay a prohibitive amount to beat those teams and at some point it doesn't make much sense given catcher wear and tear.

I'm not sure I'd necessarily call Infante a "bargain"  like Cameron does, but he would certainly be an improvement over the incumbents. Last year Toronto was dead last in terms of second base value in the A.L. ( Detroit was #5) . You don't have to be the best, but you can't be horrible either if you hope to compete. I'd keep his teammate Jhonny Peralta in considertation as well ( although some Bauxites might object to his steroid indictment) and given that he's a Dominican perhaps the Jays may have some leverage in this regard.

greenfrog - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 10:03 PM EST (#280390) #
The Rays have given DeJesus a two-year, $10.5M deal, with a club option for 2016. If he continues to hit RHP well and play solid OF defense, this will work out nicely for TB. Someone like DeJesus would be a good get for the Jays. The Rays continue to build around quality two-way players, something Toronto could do more of.

John Northey - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 10:16 PM EST (#280391) #
If McCann is up to $120 for 6 years then it makes no sense for the Jays.  He is a catcher on the wrong side of 30.  A 3-5 year deal can work, getting that 6th and beyond is most likely tossing money away.  So for budget purposes go with 5/$120 in your mind and you get $24 mil a year with likely a wasted roster slot in year 6.  Possibly could end up 3/$120 or $40 mil a year for his productive years and then 3 years of 'what do we do with him'.  Just too much at that point.

Of course, if the Jays decide they are super rich and screw the future then sign Cano and McCann and let the next GM in 4 to 5 years deal with the mess left behind.
Richard S.S. - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 10:54 PM EST (#280393) #
McCann ticks all the boxes of catching needs for us. We need a good defensive catcher that can do it all defensively. He also needs to be excellent with pitchers and in controlling the game. He needs to hit well (not great) with some power, walks well and doesn't strike out a lot.

If not McCann, who might tick all those boxes? Because with J.P. Arencibia being on the outs, we need someone.
pooks137 - Tuesday, November 05 2013 @ 11:52 PM EST (#280395) #
If not McCann, who might tick all those boxes? Because with J.P. Arencibia being on the outs, we need someone.

I think the fact is that we can't afford a catcher who "ticks all the boxes".  I don't think we're looking for one either, since most teams don't actually have one.
I think AA is probably looking for a perfectly cromulent catching replacement who maybe meets two of those criteria.  Right now, our starting catcher's only skill is power, and this is mostly neutralized by lack of plate discipline, contact skills or on-base ability.  I'm not sure how JPA's handling pitchers or game calling skills rate, and I'm not sure if there is a metric that can evaluate these soft skills.

Finding some whom say, can control the running game and take a walk, at a reasonable price seems like a clear upgrade.  Say a Gregg Zaun clone with a better arm.
John Northey - Wednesday, November 06 2013 @ 12:43 AM EST (#280396) #
I think the budget is the biggest question, and how much risk AA is willing to take on one player.  If the real budget is closer to $180 mil then McCann fits.  If it is $150 then he doesn't.  B-R estimates the Jays at $132.9 (factoring in arbitration, etc.) so that means...
  • If budget is $140 mil then just $7.1 left (some think this is where it is)
  • If budget is $160 mil then $27.1 left (some think this is where it is)
  • If budget is $180 mil then $47.1 left (none think this is the case)

Now, of note: MLB is giving every club over $25 mil extra from national TV rights - a doubling of the old deal (MLB Hit The Jackpot! - Forbes).  Plus local rights deals are shared to some degree and thanks to killer deals for the Dodgers (among others) that shared revenue is skyrocketing (How MLB splits your TV dollars | May | 2013 - Awful Announcing) which is worth roughly $12 mil per team (the site did some miscalculations so I redid the math).  The Jays (and all other clubs) thus get $62 mil each (roughly) in TV money.  The Jays also get $36 mil for local rights (one estimate) minus the 34% that must be shared (thus why Rogers would lie through their teeth on how much the Jays are worth in TV revenue) equals $23.76 million.  So a total of $85.76 million in TV money alone for the Jays. That will be at least $25 mil higher than last year (national TV deal) and should be higher still given the Jays ratings are among the best in baseball (for local viewership) and with a winner could double thus being worth at least another $30+ mil to the Jays should they do well.  That means a potential of $50+ million in the coffers before factoring in attendance and other revenue sources.  Given last years payroll was around $120 mil then suddenly a $180 mil payroll (increase of $60 mil) is possible.  Unlikely, but possible.

Richard S.S. - Wednesday, November 06 2013 @ 02:34 AM EST (#280397) #
Two problems with your numbers John.
1) Roger's is never going into Luxury Tax territory without a World Series appearance. Not now, not ever, not without something to show.
2) How much more does it escalate over the next season?

I can see $150.0 MM as bottom line with maybe $ 3.0 MM - $ 5.0 MM more if absolutely necessary. $140.0 MM seems like much too little, while $160.0 MM sees like much too much. I'd like to see it go to $175.0 MM myself.
John Northey - Wednesday, November 06 2013 @ 07:34 AM EST (#280399) #
The luxury tax is an interesting thing - right now it seems far too low given where MLB finances are going. Looking at BP compensation page (via Cot's) you see for 2013 two teams over $200 mil (Yanks and Dodgers), 3 between $148 and $160, 2 more over $135, 2 in the $120's (including the Jays), and 5 more over $100.  So 14 teams with a $100+ mil payroll.  Given all clubs get at least $30 mil more via the league office in 2014 if all of that went to salaries (unlikely) you'd end up with 3 over $189 (Yanks, Dodgers, Phillies) while Red Sox and Tigers would be very close. and the 4 more over $120 would be in eyeshot (Angels, Giants, Jays and Rangers).  10 more clubs would crack $100 mil leaving just 6 under.

FYI: 2 teams are listed as being under $60 mil - in fact both were under $40 mil (Miami and Houston). 

IMO the Jays should, at minimum, have the budget of the Tigers as Detroit is a much, much worse market than Toronto (corporate revenues in the toilet, high jobless rate, mostly limited to Michigan for TV revenue).

whiterasta80 - Wednesday, November 06 2013 @ 08:34 AM EST (#280400) #
Detroit is regularly losing money so they arent a fair comparison. On the other hand Toronto has one of the largest television markets in all of baseball and Rogers has been reaping the benefits of this for years. I think that they learned last year what investment in the team can do to attendance and interest and i expect them to spend this winter.

But I agree that there is no way that they exceed the tax before a playoff run.

Regarding McCann: the numbers thrown around are rapidly approaching Cano levels. If McCann gets to 6/120 then I'm going 7/190 on Cano first.It might not get him, but it forces someone to overpay and it somehow does work I can live with a scrap heap defense first catcher if we have Cano.
Wildrose - Wednesday, November 06 2013 @ 10:43 AM EST (#280404) #
IMO the Jays should, at minimum, have the budget of the Tigers as Detroit is a much, much worse market than Toronto (corporate revenues in the toilet, high jobless rate, mostly limited to Michigan for TV revenue).

Good work John, I believe Detroit is a special case as the owner Mike Illitch ( owner of Little Caesar's Pizza) is willing to spend his own fortune to have a Detroit World series win. Sadly Illitch appears to be quite sick ( many stories just this morning in fact from Detroit ), it'll be interesting to see if his heirs continue this policy.

I've heard how they work the budget is that Beeston and AA have some general parameters ( let's say $150 million for this year ) and if they want to exceed this amount for a certain situation, they need to meet with senior Roger's executives and bean counters for final approval.

In the past CEO Nazr Mohammed has been very supportive of these special situations ( the Florida and Mets trade), but here's the rub, Mohammed is stepping down at the end of the year. A new CEO from England, who carries a reputation of being a cost slasher and an innovator is coming aboard in January.

I think given the substantial increase in home attendance ( highest in baseball over the past 3 years) and in terms of T.V. viewership ( actually they've surpassed the Yankee's and are # 1 in all of baseball) that there's money to be made by further investing in baseball operations. The encouraging thing is that all this growth has happened while watching a very poor team, imagine if they were actually competitive.

Richard S.S. - Wednesday, November 06 2013 @ 10:40 PM EST (#280415) #
The Team drew about 2.5 million fans last year. At an average of $25.00 per ticket makes that about $62.5 MM. I don't know how much of that is not expenses. There a huge amount of concessions and team stuff sold, close to twice average ticket price. I don't know what should be the team's pieces after expenses. With the MLB TV package increases, the team's take is about $60.0 MM, free and clear. Toronto is the 4th - 6th largest market in North America or somewhere close. A commensurate TV package for a Major Sports Team should be in the $75.0 MM to $100.0 MM range. So there are immense resources available to this team if and when needed. Of people in Toronto or with better access to information could tell how close I am with my speculation. I think I'm close.

The Blue Jays are not a drain on this company. This describes how important this Team is to the Corp in a time when content is king. They are a long way down the chain in a Mega-Corp that's makes many Billion$ in earning$. Any new CEO that concerns himself with so very minor an item as this team, within the first 24 months, should be fired.
John Northey - Thursday, November 07 2013 @ 12:09 AM EST (#280416) #
Forbes lists the Tigers as pretty much a break even team. Not 100% accurate of course, but interesting none the less. 
From 2005 to today profit/loss: +$7.9, +$3.5, +$8.7, +$4.6, -$26.3 (recession hits), -$29.5, -$29.1, +$8.4, -$0.4.  Clearly the recession (arrives in 2008, hits hard in 2009/10/11) hit the Tigers big time.  From 2005 to today it works out to a loss of $52.2 million.  However, in 2005 the club was listed as being worth $239 million vs today's value of $643 million which equals a profit of $404 million. 

So don't cry any tears for the Illitch family as after senior passes on the rest of the family will have a nice big nest egg that has only grown in the past few years.  The Jays page lists them as growing from $214 mil in value in 2005 to $568 mil today.  The estimate for 2013 was a loss of $4.8 million after a $25.1 mil profit in 2012.  Some of their estimates for the Jays seem low to me though, with revenue per fan of just $22 vs the $44 they list for the Tigers.  The Jays were bought in 2000 for $137 million, SkyDome for $25 mil around the same time iirc.  So yeah, the Jays are a nice bit on the Rogers ledger but the question becomes how far will they risk it with player costs?
Richard S.S. - Thursday, November 07 2013 @ 08:01 AM EST (#280417) #
$30 Million seems like a lot of money but it's just 1% of a $3 Billion total. $25 MM was projected to be a 31.25 % increase, which actually became $40 MM or a 50% increase. An additional 12% over the normal increases is negligible. It too small a number to matter. Profit and loss statements have always been creative bookkeeping. Anything more than 10% of Corp gross is concerning, but anything less is not important.

With all natural increases pre-factored in when the deals last offseason were made. Any additional monies that might be needed have been included. I firmly believe $150.0 - $155.0 MM was pre-approved last offseason. More of course would need higher approval. But natural increases and another $15.0 - $20.0 MM should have been pre-approved for 2015!
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