Monday, December 28 2020 @ 10:31 PM EST
Contributed by: John Northey
So, Kim goes to SD, as does Snell and Darvish - glad the Jays aren't in that division. All other NL West teams should look at doing a dump and run. So now what?
Jays clearly are after an infielder - ideally a star level one or a very young one with potential for that. Young potential stars are normally impossible to trade for so lets look at what is possible...
- Free Agents
- DJ LeMahieu - mostly at 2B but 11 games at 3B last year and 52 in 2019 so he is flexible. Coming off a career year with the bat (177 OPS+, career 102) and going into his age 32 season (so any long term deal carries a lot of risk - most players are in serious decline around 32 and keep dropping, sometimes off a cliff - see Roberto Alomar 150 OPS+ at 33, 90 at 34, 80 at 35, just 56 games at 36 and done). He will be expensive as he wants to stay in NY, but stealing a star from the Yankees is very appealing on the surface (weaken them, strengthen the Jays). He is demanding $100 mil over 5 years (wayyyy too much).
- Tomoyuki Sugano - star pitcher in Japan (sub 2 ERA many times) who is projected to sign here for $24 mil over 3 years which I'd take in a second. Entering his age 31 season, he rarely walks anyone (1.8 BB/9 lifetime) K's a fair number (8.0 K/9 lifetime), and keeps the ball in the park (0.6 HR/9 lifetime). Rumored final teams in the race are SF Giants, Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Mets, and (of course) the San Diego Padres. Decision has to happen soon or he goes back to Japan for 2021.
- J.T. Realmuto - the catcher the Jays are still rumored to be after (I see him as a 'if we can't sign anyone else, lets upgrade behind the plate). 123 OPS+ last year, 111 lifetime, entering age 30 season, over 100 games in 5 straight seasons pre-2020 so fairly durable. Gold glove in 2019, lots to like. But asking for $125 over 5 which is a bit rich given we have decent young options already behind the plate.
- Trevor Bauer - the star of this offseason, a real #1 pitcher who apparently wants a shorter term contract, as short as 1 season. Entering his age 30 season, a 3-5 year deal would be reasonable, but he will want $30 mil+ a year.
- George Springer - a CF who can hit. 140 OPS+ last year, 131 lifetime, positive dWAR lifetime and the past 2 seasons, but gets a fair amount of time in RF each year too. Entering his age 31 season. Houston, Mets, and the Jays are the favorites for him. 5 years $125 is what is expected to be needed to get him.
- Masahiro Tanaka - a solid starter with a 114 ERA+ lifetime, 120 last year, the Yankees don't seem too interested in re-signing him for some reason (low BB/9, decent K/9, high HR/9). One site projects 4 years $52 mil, another 3 years $39 mil. So we know the ballpark and I'd grab him at those prices. Yankees are still expected to sign him in the end, with the Angels, White Sox, Jays, Phillies, Red Sox seen as possible destinations. Maybe even the Cubs if they decide to replace Yu Darvish.
- Justin Turner - appears nearly ideal - older 3B (entering age 36 season) who hits a ton (135 OPS+ last year, 128 lifetime) with decent defense (slight negative on UZR/150 but over 0 lifetime), but he wants to stay in LA. Was projected at 2 years $24 mil but is demanding a 3rd year right now.
- Liam Hendriks - an odd one to see the Jays chasing (as they are reported to be) as he is a closer who used to be here. Last 2 years saw a combined 13.1 K/9 vs 2.0 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9 over 110 IP and a sub 2 ERA. He'd make the pen that much more solid but, like Realmuto, seems to be overkill given the decent in house options vs the ugly ones at 3B/CF/SP. Entering his age 32 season he seems to be likely to cost 3 years $30 mil which isn't a bad deal all things considered.
- Jackie Bradley Jr.- long rumored to be a target, solid in CF for defense but just a 94 OPS+ lifetime (118 last year) appears to be costing a 2 year $16 mil deal which isn't bad at all imo. But clearly a plan B or C guy.
- Many others are out there like SS Marcus Semien, SP James Paxton (often injured), Taijuan Walker (did well for us in 2020), and many, many others who all would be plan C or lower for the Jays I hope.
- Kolten Wong - like Bradley is a plan C I figure, great D, no offense (94 OPS+ lifetime, 87 last year). Entering his age 30 season, he was released by the Cardinals ($1 mil buyout vs $12.5 mil option). So he would be probably under $10 mil per on a 1 or 2 year deal. Very affordable.
- Francisco Lindor - the one that would cost a fortune in all respects - at least 3 top prospects plus $300+ million over 10+ years. Massive risk, but just entering his age 27 season as a gold glove, silver slugging SS. 4+ WAR every season but 2020 (pace of 3.0), peak of 7.8 WAR. A wow player no matter how you cut it but the cost is high.
- Trevor Story - Rockies need to face reality, they are in the NL West with 2 monsters right now so rebuild is smart and Story has just 1 year left on his deal. Entering his age 28 season he won't be cheap either, but should be less than Lindor both in prospects and long term deal due to being 1 year older and a bit less of a player (still star level). 114 OPS+ lifetime, 118 last year.
- Nolan Arenado - Rockies again, Entering his age 30 season with a 120 OPS+ lifetime but just a 84 last year (ugh) but still a gold glover at 3B. He has a long term deal through 2026 for $35 per year but 'just' $32 and $27 the last 2 years. He does have an opt out after 2021 but hard to imagine him using it (risking $199 mil less the $35 for 2021). Before 2020 he would've been untouchable, now they want to dump him. Colorado has been sub 500 and 4th out of 5 teams the past 2 years in the NL West and no one expects that to improve anytime soon.
- I'm sure there are dozens of other possibilities but these seem the strongest right now (and most talked about). Basically take any decent high priced player on any non-contender and the Jays are probably looking at them.
Hopefully this thread will be out of date quickly and the Jays get one or more of these players so we have something to really talk about. Who would you give up in a trade among the Jays top 5 prospects? How many would you give up for Lindor (assuming he signs an extension)? For Story (same condition)? Would you give up anything of value for Arenado? How much for each of the prized free agents? I'd go to 3 years for Turner knowing the 3rd year is a likely write off (I figure he could move to DH/1B if needed or be a backup 3B/1B/DH in year 3). $125 for Springer or Realmuto, $100 for LeMathieu? It will be interesting to see what happens with Sugano (should be the next to sign) and Tanaka (since the Yankees are ignoring him it seems based on various sites) either of whom would be nice #2's.