Blue Jays Drafts and UFA

Sunday, November 27 2022 @ 12:07 AM EST

Contributed by: John Northey

Over the years the Jays have had a few GM's and each did drafts and signed undrafted free agents. So how did each do?

An oddity I hadn't noticed before. 3 of the 5 GM's we've had (I don't count Bavasti for 1977 as I suspect Gillick was 100% in control of the draft and most of the rest) had last names starting with the letter A - did the Jays just start looking by alphabetical order and said 'screw it lets just take the first guy' (yes, that is a joke)?

Undrafted Free Agents (UFA)...

So AA easily signed the most per year, just shy of 70 a year, and had the most reach at 3 per year (more might still make it - remember these guys are signed very young). If you go by # signed vs reached the worst was JPR at 45.4 signed to get 1 in the majors. Atkins is at 45.2 (will improve as time goes by), Ash at 35.5, AA at 23.3, Gillick at 19.3. Super scout Epy Guerrero was amazing under Gillick but Ash/Interbrew (owners of Jays during Ash's time) cut the coaching in the minors and scouting money which shows up here big time. JPR was horrid by any measure (lowest per year reached, worst ratio of signed/reached, lowest # per year signed). Kind of surprised that Gillick and Ash signed almost an identical # per year (0.1 spread) but Gillick had 1.3 more reaching per year - that is massive. AA/Atkins both signing more than any other GM before did although AA really went nuts with it and got the results (Osuna, Vlad, Adeiny Hechavarria was decent too plus lots of minor guys).

Note: this includes undrafted free agents in the USA/Canada/PR. So guys like Casey Lawrence & Chris Rowley are included.

So how about the draft? Same measurements plus WAR/draft Note: Other drafts is the old January and 2 secondary drafts they had each year. Not many signed through those but a few gems like Stottlemyre, Eichhorn, and Mark Whiten (all 10+ WAR) and poor Mike Sharperson (1 ASG and died far too young).

10+ WAR guys... (included the 2 9.9 guys) Net reached per year per GM plus net 10+ WAR per year (solid guys) Obviously Atkins numbers for reached and WAR will be far lower than the others due to his guys just getting started (takes at least 5 years before any UFA reaches, often 10 years before you can say for sure if guys are successful or failures). AA's will also continue to improve as time goes by and more reach and those who are here add to their resumes. AA was by far the biggest development guy running the Jays ever, while Ash was even worse than I thought at it (hampered by owners who were super cheap - iirc every year we heard about the Jays signing guys who were lower ranked than the picks including guys like Wells & Rios who developed quite nicely) but did get a lot of really good players but flopped on role players and trades (Blake & Young never played a game here for example).

So what does this mean going forward? Hard to say, but it seems Atkins is on the right trend - signing more than any GM outisde of AA as AFA's (amateur free agents) to compensate for the reduced draft he has had to deal with. Hopefully it works well.

As a final data point - how did Cleveland do with Mark Shapiro running things? (he did train Atkins and is the president right now) GM 2002-2010, President 2011-2015, Atkins Farm Director 2009-2014 So by that it looks like Shapiro wasn't very good at the draft or UFA's, nor Atkins who was high on the player development ladder (2001 was assistant director of player development, promoted to director of Latin American operations in 2003. In 2006, promoted to director of player development, then promoted to vice president of player personnel after the 2014 season). But they did get a few big hits in the last 5 years in UFA (Ramirez, Diaz, Urshela) so maybe they finally got it figured out just before the Jays poached them. Hope so at least. Kirk and Moreno suggest that they might have (both late cheap signings so odds are it was mainly Atkin's scouts that found them vs old profiles from AA's setup).