Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine Batter's Box Interactive Magazine
Traditions are traditions, even silly ones.

So obvious disclaimer! I certainly don't plan on taking this exercise remotely seriously. 

At least, serious as far as intentional analysis goes. Not exactly my bag to begin with... and coming off of a season where I'm now happy to cynically shrug off almost whatever move the team makes this winter? Go Team Whatever? Clearly I'm the perfect man for this optimistic mission...  the 2024 Blue Jays would be a better team with both Shohei Ohtani and Juan Soto? Gee I'm shocked.

Snarky disclaimer now aside... how does this upcoming free agent class appeal in helping the current Toronto Blue Jays improve their roster? Answer: even my optimism is feeling Pizza Pizza level realistic (if you don't live in Ontario and don't get my reference, please don't look it up). Nevertheless... this free agent breakdown has been a fun exercise the past few winters and so, going by MLB Trade Rumours Top 50 Free Agents... here are my baseless, emotional, likely foolish assessments of each player's potential value of joining your 2024 Blue Jays. 

Away we go...

#1. Shohei Ohtani (LAA -- SP/DH) * AL MVP

I mean... duh. Duh! Sign this man. Just do it. He's very likely the greatest baseball player to ever walk the Earth. Rogers can afford it (although apparently Edward Rogers balked at bringing a WNBA team to Toronto, so thanks. Total faith this operation is thinking forwardly)... but whatever. It won't happen. If it did? Lets go. Money is money, and caution with it is an ideal path... but if all Shohei Ohtani costs is money... when you have obscene amounts of it... you at least have to try. Your best.

#2. Cody Bellinger (CHC -- OF/1B)

Count me wary of Bellinger, there's a lot of bad in the profile... although I think it's far more likely he's a terrific player for the next half decade than a washout. It's the washout risk that gives me pause... and for somebody about to score a larger contract than George Springer did (and sure George was a little older at the time)... Springer's track record was far more accomplished and consistently excellent. 

In a weak position player class, somebody's gonna play too much for what Bellinger does (or can potentially do). He's a good outfielder, can draw a walk, strikes out a ton and will knock one over the fence for ya. Sounds like a really good #5 hitter to me, a very valuable piece at his peak... not somebody throwing an entire bank at. Depends on the bank, of course.

#3. Yoshinobu Yamamoto (JPL -- SP)

"We have enough pitching already!", you say? By 2023 evidence, sure... but when it comes to the ye old tale of a pitching staff... oh how quickly the ground beneath you can quake and collapse.

And be real. If you go into 2024 relying on the same level of consistency from those starters, hey I admire the positive thinking (what's your secret?) but do yourself a favour and don't wager anything serious on it. Considering track records? Entirely possible. Considering stupid luck and its blind torpedoes? I've seen too many good plans fail spectacularly.

I don't like handing Alek Manoah the 5th starter job without a serious challenge (sorry Bowden Francis). Signing Yamamoto, as clearly in demand as he is, would be a huge play in the opposite direction of that... and arguments of allocating resources aside blah blah blah Yamamoto looks fun. Fun! And this team needs some goddamn fun again, compared to the Seventh Seal march to inevitable death it so skillfully cosplayed last year. Plus you have a bit of a tradable strength here... affordable established starting pitching for something useful.... Kikuchi and Nate Pearson for Matt McLain there done it everyone close your textbooks I retire. 

#4. Blake Snell (SD -- SP) *NL Cy Young

Yamamoto excites me way more than Blake Snell. Why is that? Snell is an established excellent MLB pitcher, probably about to win a second Cy Young (two in different leagues) and *** EDIT: He did win that second Cy ***  

His track record screams quality. Perhaps it's the excitement that comes from the unknown? Something that maybe no one was ever seen before? I've seen Blake Snell before... he's very very good, hard to hit, loses the strike zone often (and thus struggles to go deep into games fairly often). I wouldn't protest if the Jays added Snell, but I'd be very surprised if it happened.

#5. Aaron Nola (SD -- SP)

I was extremely onboard with Toronto signing Nola, until the Phillies brought him back. At that contract... I still like Nola, but not quite that much.

#6. Jordan Montgomery (StL/TEX -- SP)

Let's just all laugh at the Yankees for trading him away for essentially two good weeks of Harrison Bader. Whoops. 

Montgomery is a good pitcher who will get handsomely paid by someone. He's earned it... Lefty knows what he's doing up there.

#7. Matt Chapman (TOR -- 3B)

We know him fairly well, and the vibe seems fairly strong that he ain't coming back. He's a mighty fine player, hard to replace, but also such an infuriating hitter to watch I suspect his defensive magic will be his only Toronto legacy. And even said magic seemed to be waning in the past season... his instant step devolving to great from excellent. 

I liked Chapman but... I grew to expect him whiffing on sixty million fastballs down the middle. Curious to see where his career goes from here: honestly for me it's 50/50 he rebounds into a fringe MVP candidate or the bat completely falls off the cliff... with the likely result somewhere in the sticky, infuriating middle. That likely result is one I'm cool shaking hands and moving on from.

#8. Josh Hader (SD -- RP)

No thanks.

#9. Sonny Gray (SP)

Yes thanks.

If the Blue Jays decide to zag when they should obviously zig, adding Sonny Gray to their rotation almost writes itself. Here's yet another #3 starter! This team already has five of those! But they're all good enough to easily be the ace of the Rockies or the Pirates!

Gray is superb. His well-timed season puts his price a little too far beyond what Toronto probably is looking for, if looking for starting pitching. Don't go back to the Yankees, Sonny. They hated you! Now the Dodgers... yeah, you'll somehow be 10-2 with a 1.91 and start the all-star game. You heard it here first, Bauxites.

#10. Shota Imanaga (JPCL -- SP)

A short Japanese left-hander who just turned 30 in September, with impressively consistent results in the NPB. Intrigued enough to say... why the heck not.

#11. Eduardo Rodriguez (SP)

His weird Tigers tenure intrigues me more than his potential joining of the Blue Jays. He's a very good pitcher... just not into it at this moment.

#12. Teoscar Hernandez (OF/DH)

The heart says yes. Yes! Mr. Seeds is back....

Teo is such a delight, and this sorry baseball 2023 squad was badly in need of delight. But... signing Hernandez now I have my hesitations. I wonder how he ages: is he more Nelson Cruz or Mark Trumbo? Sure, his defense has improved into the range of serviceable, but now he's getting to the age where that can reverse quite sharply. Unlike a, say... Jose Bautista... Teo doesn't walk enough to make a modest decline in pop tolerable.

I don't know, frankly. But I'd lean into bringing him back. The obvious tiebreaker, heart versus mind, is that the heart wants the vibes back. A player you like cheering for beyond a fresh set of laundry.

#13. Jeimer Candelario (WSH/CHC -- 3B)

Lets not. Overpaying for meh?-to-good players in free agency rarely ends with: "I'm sure glad we signed that guy for more years and commitment than anybody else would". 

Third base is about to be a hole, sure... but the internal options interest me way more than blocking them for a very average player*.

*you all can roast me on this come June 23rd, 2024

#14. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (ARZ -- LF)

Like Teoscar Hernandez, it would be fun to have Pina Power back. 

He's not as good a player though, despite his amazing hot streaks (which are always balanced out by the ice cold ones). And watching the postseason, he's still an unpredictable adventure in the outfield. A chuckle each time he made a leaping catch, the announcers proclaiming "He's such a good defender! Ho Boy!"... when it was his initially terrible read that necessitated the leap at all. But he does catch them.... and his lethal arm continues to snipe foolish baserunners. What an odd player. But an objectively good one.

#15. Jung Hoo Lee (KBO -- OF)

Colour me extremely interested... although those who don't hit for a lot of home run power overseas always worry me somewhat (call it the Skogo Akiyama effect). But I really like the package Lee has, plus the age (only 25, whereas Akiyama was 32 when he came to the Reds). I'd be very down for this... it wouldn't much address the lack of power in the lineup but one would figure its an upside play on Lee developing more of that as he enters his prime, while jumping into a useful MLB role fairly quickly. Flip a coin.

#16. Jorge Soler (FLA -- DH/"OF")

Can you hide somebody like Soler in left-field because you have an absolute steer manning center in Varsho? Honestly... probably once in a while. Fenway Park springs to mind. 

Soler's power is enticing of course, but I'd be concerned with how inconsistent Soler is from year to year. The outcomes are endless: he could lead the American League in homers (which he has done), or go bat .202 while making an obscene number of outs. He'll be 32 when the season starts and is already a dreadful fielder. You could talk me into a short-term, two year deal but anything longer than that seems reckless.

#17. Lucas Giolito (CWS-LAA-CLE -- SP)

All your mid-rotation starters are belong to us! there's a joke I should've Gee-o-let it go.

(why are all these tomatoes hitting me????)

Giolito is interesting but he hasn't been all that good the past two seasons. I suppose he was decent in the White Sox half of 2023, but then absolutely horrible in the Angels/Guardians half. Just a guy*

*"just a guy" is exactly how I referred to Kevin Gausman multiple times in previous articles like this. I've been quite wrong before. Glad to be wrong on that one.

#18. Marcus Stroman (CHC -- SP)

I'd love to have the Stro Show back. When healthy (a 2023 injury completely derailed the second half of his season) he's still an extremely good pitcher... pounding the infield dirt and grass into clouds of dust via the groundballs he serves on the menu.  Stroman is about to turn 33, and I imagine will be looking for one last big contract. Getting him seems like such a Dodgers play anyhow.

#19. Seth Lugo (SD -- SP)

Longtime swingman makes good! He's the Ross Stripling of this year's free agent class. An older pitcher finally getting a chance at starting most of an entire season and turning in a career year. Happy for him, go get paid. It makes little sense for it to be here, obviously.

#20. J.D. Martinez (LAD -- DH)

Like Jorge Soler except without even the faint notion he can play a defensive position. Martinez is also older, but also a much more consistently terrific hitter: he's had an OPS over .860 in 8 of the past 10 seasons... and one of those was the shortened 2020 year (where he really struggled). He's a really, really good hitter... but signing him means you're locking in the DH spot most games. It's not the craziest idea but it depends how you value your flexibility. If you're wondering, Martinez has played 12 defensive innings the past two seasons (in LF for the Dodgers this past year).

#21. Jordan Hicks (StL/TOR -- RP)

Great having ya. Someone is gonna see that 103 MPH fastball and throw him a truck of money, thinking they can unlock its fullest potential. Sounds like a very Rockies thing to do. 

#22. Jack Flaherty (StL/BAL -- SP)

We're entering the reclaimation project tier of starting pitchers, where I realistically could see the Blue Jays taking a flyer on someone and Flaherty would be a compelling choice. He seems to have just completely lost the strikezone the past couple seasons and neither the Cardinals or the Orioles could help him locate it again. Pete Walker appears to have a certain touch with these types of things.

#23. Mitch Garver (TEX -- DH/C)

Another limited defensive player but like J.D. Martinez the bat is mighty intriguing. Unlike Martinez, Garver just can't stay on the field: he hasn't played more than 93 games in the past five seasons (and before you say it yeah he only played 23 in the shortened season). He's quite a bat when he can get out there, but therein lies the rub. He'll also be 33 when the season starts, which is not an age where injuries tend to go away.

#24. Michael Wacha (SD -- SP)

Wacha has actually been very good the past couple seasons, so he's looking for the big payday I imagine. Doesn't really fit here.

#25. Kenta Maeda (MIN -- SP)

I like this type of guy as a, which I mentioned earlier, "lets not just hand Alek Manoah a rotation spot" play. Maeda probably can't give you more than 100 innings but they'll be quality and he is rather funky to watch. Not a bad idea, but not a headline move either.

#26. Rhys Hoskins (PHI -- 1B/DH)

A few people here have thrown the Hoskins idea out there, and I also heard Arden Zwelling mention it on the At The Letters podcast, so I'll throw my take into the vast ring as well. I think it's a great idea: buying low on an elite hitter who just missed an entire season and will likely want a shorter term deal to rebuild his value. 

Some have suggested even trying him as the left-fielder! I think that's a completely terrible idea! He's coming off a severe lower body injury, hasn't played the outfield at all since he was 25 (he'll be 31 opening day), and he was one of the worst defensive outfielders in baseball when he did! 

Nevertheless, Hoskins would do just fine as a DH and occasional first-baseman. I think it's a nice high-reward gamble should the Blue Jays decide to pursue this avenue.  

#27. Robert Stephenson (PIT/TB -- RP)

Man... if you're a big-armed reliever who has been passed around the league for a while, possibly even and/or a former starting pitching prospect that failed... at this point aren't you just praying to get traded to Tampa Bay? Because odds are they're gonna tweak ya, you'll put up an ERA of like 1.20 for half a season and all of a sudden you're a free agent about to get paid. 

Stephenson is a particularly notable name to me since he was the Reds Great Pitching Hope some time ago, in the sad era of Johnny Cueto being gone, Homer Bailey expensively falling into the core of the Earth and the ghosts of Scott Feldman and Matt Harvey were inhaling significant innings. A move to the pen didn't help Stephenson's consistency, and after matching good half seasons with bad ones for the Rockies and Pirates, the Rays got their hands on him, told him to throw way more cut fastballs, and all of a sudden he completely stopped giving up hits or walks and replaced those with strikeouts. Usually a good idea.

It obviously won't be the Blue Jays, but whoever throws a bag at him will be banking on that increased cutter usage unlocking some kind of elite pitch... and if so a guy who can be a strong setup man on a potential playoff team. A random one I'm curious about. 

#28. Yariel Rodriguez (JPCL -- RP)

A very skinny Cuban reliever who has pitched well in Japan the past few seasons. The numbers, beyond allowing few hits, don't blow you away... but what do I know? Clearly, as you must know this deep into this piece... nothing!

#29. Reynaldo Lopez (CWS/LAA/CLE -- RP)

The Atlanta Barves signed him between the time I started this piece and the time I got down to Lopez on the list... so I don't have to waste any more words on him. Thanks, Alex Anthopoulos! You have saved me several minutes of my life. 

#30. Mike Clevinger (CWS -- SP)

Dude has been a pretty effective starting pitcher when he's been physically capable of taking a mound, which I was surprised to learn has been 47 starts over the past two seasons. While he's never been a perfect picture of prompt probable prosperous pitching perpetuity (precisely)... it's mainly the one major injury, suffered almost immediately upon joining the Padres, that has made the significant gap in his career.

While I'd wager Clevinger can be a useful MLB starting pitcher for some time longer, there are concerning trends. Mainly, he'll be 33 on opening day and his strikeout percentage has been a nudge below league in both seasons since the injury. As such, he strikes me as more of a guy that a meh-to-bad team signs on a short deal, and then cashes in on as a trade chip should their team be terrible and Clevinger appeal to a contender looking for bottom rotation help. 

#31. Kevin Kiermaier (TOR -- CF)

It was very, very fun watching him play on our side for a change. All is forgiven and then some. I'm struck by how healthy Kevin was this past season: Appearing in 129 games is tied for the second most in his entire career. He's about to be 34 and considering how hard he plays, how playing on real grass will be much better for his creaky hip, and that the Blue Jays have an obvious replacement with minimal defensive dropoff... well it's been a slice. And a good slice, not a crummy Pizza Pizza level slice. Just please please don't end up a Yankee... it was so delightful finally cheering for you.

#32. Nick Martinez (SD -- P)

Swingman here! Step right up and get your swingman! Missed out on Seth Lugo? Don't wanna take a chance trading for Ross Stripling and eating some money? Take your own chance! Swingman here! Step right up!

#33. Aroldis Chapman (KC/TEX -- RP)

God no.

#34. Michael Lorenzen (DET/PHI -- P)              

Only if we let him bat and/or play the outfield again. His career batting line of .233/.282/.429 is considerably better than Daulton Varsho's 2023, and I'm sure Lorenzen is a better fielder than Jorge Soler at this point... just saying...

Okay okay in all seriousness, I do find Lorenzen The Pitcher interesting as well. Depending on the Manoah plan, here's a guy you can sign without necessarily having to guarantee a rotation spot (assuming he's into that, which looked like a 0 percent chance until he left Detroit for the Phillies). As a decent floor, good-ish upside play for the back of the rotation, or multi inning relief option... just a versatile guy if at the right price. 

#35. Sean Manaea (SF -- P)

Manaea appeared on this same list, this same article, last year... and without looking at my words back then (oh to be so young again), I probably said something in the tune of "intriguing guy, high upside but lots of things to be concerned about". 

This is exactly how I feel again, just that now the upside seems lessened to me. It's more likely 2023 is simply who he is, and while it seems the Giants turned him into a very effective relief option for a lot of the season... this is a big meh from me. I suspect I'd be hardly alone in being seriously underwhelmed should this be one of the Blue Jays larger moves* of the winter.

*future Dodgers 2024 All-Star Sean Manaea, I mean

#36. Harrison Bader (NYY/CIN -- CF)

Your poor man's RH Kevin Kiermaier. Bader was pretty darn good for a little four year stretch there for the Cardinals (2018-21) but injuries have swallowed up his offense to the point that I'd be thinking more "non guaranteed minor league invite" instead of multi-years and multi-millions. MLBTR projecting him to get 2 years/20 makes me think of Philip J. Fry with a handful of cash in his hand. As a 'cheap' (key descriptor there) fourth outfield option I'd be fine with it... maybe in limited duty he can stay healthy and mash a lefty for ya. 

#37. Tyler Mahle (MIN -- SP)

While the Minnesota Twins enjoyed the last laugh over the Toronto baseball squad in 2023... it likely will be Cincinnati fans cackling at Minnesota's expense for several more years than that.

It made sense at the time, but now just 42 innings of Twins Mahle later while Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand appear like young building blocks towards the next good Reds team (as does Will Benson, whom the Reds gained from the Guardians for swapping the third player in the Mahle deal, Steve Hajjar). Despite this, Tyler Mahle is still an enticing option for a starting rotation: a still young (29) starting pitcher with a good track record when healthy, likely looking to rehab his value on a shorter deal. There's still risk: it was a shoulder injury that cut his 2022 season short, and then the dreaded Tommy John surgery this past year which will keep him out until at least the mid-summer of 2024. Hmmmm... seems like a modest upside play that a team featuring an already strong and deep rotation might make...

#38. Gio Urshela (LAA -- IF)

As a 3B stopgap until you see whether Orelvis Martinez or Addison Barger can take the job... it's far from sexy but the logic isn't bad. Urshela can also play other positions should somebody (ideally) steal that job from him, and maaaaybe his bat rebounds to league average just by virtue of escaping the Cursed LA Angels? As an extreme contact hitting, good defending, no walks or power bench piece... that's a useful spare part on a good team. It's when he inevitably gets over 400 at bats that I begin to worry.

#39. Amed Rosario (CLE/LAD -- IF)

It's Urshela again, only younger and worse. Well, maybe not. Rosario's 2019 and 21-22 were pretty valuable, even as a guy who can do a lot of things but none of them excellently. It's a more exciting play than Urshela, considering the comparable youth and upside attached to that... but he wouldn't be the first completely league average hitter to inexplicably just lose something and fall off forever, even at age 27. I'm... vary, even if the role in Toronto wouldn't likely to be asking him too much.

#40. Whit Merrifield (TOR -- 2B/LF)

That certainly worked out better than we had any right to expect it to, right? For a few brief moments he was pretty fun, but it seems pretty obvious his bat doesn't hold up as an everyday player anymore, and he also seems to stop hitting when he isn't in said lineup everyday. Somebody will give it to him regardless, surely.

#41. Justin Turner (BOS -- 3B/1B/DH)

Man. I've always liked Turner the hitter, and in so many ways he can give this Blue Jays team a dose of what they sorely need. Even as his bat is slowly dripping OPS as that ghoul Father Time catches up to him, he's still been an above average hitter every darn season for a decade now. I tend to believe in that more than the age (39) worries me, and while Turner has also been durable at this stage I don't think throwing 100+ games of third base at him would be wise either. For reference, the Dodgers split his time evenly there and DH in 2022, while the Red Sox barely played him anywhere other than 1B or DH. Considering Boston has Rafael Devers, I think the Dodgers info there is way more informative. 

If the Jays added Turner I would like it, as I think there's clearly still some punch left in that stick. If he's the best hitter they add? Then we've got a problem. He opted out of his second year in Boston and one presumes he's thinking of a similar two year deal once again.

#42. Jason Heyward (LAD -- OF)

Weird, weird career, and a nice 2023 story. He's been around for like 15 years and still won't turn 35 until next August. The Dodgers intently hid him from LH pitching (only 29 plate appearances) and it seemed to agree with him, so a similar role seems his best way onwards. 

#43. Yuki Matsui (JPPL -- RP)

A tiny (in relative baseball terms) LH reliever from Japan who has been absurdly dominant the past three years. Who knows? Do you? Do I? 

#44. Frankie Montas (NYY -- SP)

Yet another one for the Book of Endless Examples of How Pitching Is Bad For You. Montas had turned in a couple seasons of very good work in Oakland, good enough for the Yankees to come calling and swap some prospect capital for what looked like a good middle rotation arm... assuming Montas' shoulder didn't just burst into flames almost instantly. Which it did. Whoops!

Some can call Montas an upside play but I'm gonna have to see he can even throw a ball with any regularity before guaranteeing anything. Hard pass here. Funny trivia though: three of the players Oakland received in that one trade with New York combined to start 71 games for the woeful 2023 A's. I mean, none of them beyond JP Sears were all that good... but just saying. 

#45. Brandon Belt (TOR -- 1B/DH)

I doubt at this age he'll suddenly rediscover how to hit that high fastball, but I think 2023 proved he could still work around that and provide a team something. Whether or not he wants to try it again seems fairly up in the air... he's already made his money, won his rings, and unless the Giants come calling he's reaching the stage of a particular career where you wander the league wearing a lot of unusual laundry people will not associate with you. Remember how Jim Thome was a Dodger? Jason Giambi in Cleveland? Edwin Encarnacion as a White Sox? Personally, Belt as a Brewer would be incredibly fun. I'd like to see the Captain put some cheese on that captain's hat.

#46. Hector Neris (HOU -- RP)

Another 7th inning reliever, ho hum. Not what we need to be spending dough on.

#47. Jakob Junis (SF -- P)

Started out as a serviceable starter for some bad Royals teams, then became very bad himself (the Royals will do that to ya), then went to San Francisco and seemed to rediscover most of what he was before... though mostly as a bulk reliever for the Giants in 2023. Guys this hittable, who have spent their entire careers in spacious home ballparks... you know what I mean. 

#48. Luis Severino (NYY -- SP)

Finally, one down on the list I can really get behind. At points watching Severino over the years, he legit terrified me. "Great... this guy is gonna win at least two Cy Youngs for the Yankees... how fun". 

Injuries have erased that tantalizing future for now, limiting him to just 18 innings between 2019-21. While his return as a nearly unhittable monster in 2022 brought back said terror in me, those maladies kept him down at 102 innings over 19 very good starts (7-3, 3.18). Then in 2023, in the same number of appearances, something happened. His ERA more than doubled, batters hit .301/.366/.555 off of him (including 23 dingers in 89.1 innings) and the strikeout rate cratered to well below league average.    

All reasons to be... apprehensive, despite Severino not losing anything on his great fastball velocity apparently. Signing him is such a classic high-risk/high-reward play... either he just gets hurt again and its a complete waste of a dozen million bucks (to guess-timate what he might get) or a brilliant rebound season where he gives you 130 absurdly good innings... or worse he's healthy and absolutely terrible for a second straight year. It's not my money, so obviously I like the high upside wagers when they present themselves. Go for it! Take that financial risk that won't affect my wallet at all! 

#49. Liam Hendriks (CWS -- RP)

Dude spends all winter fighting cancer, beats the bloody thing, comes back to pitch and immediately tears his elbow so it's Tommy John time. Considering what a downright good and cool dude Hendriks appears to be... life just ain't fair sometimes all the time, man.

I think there might've been a better chance of the Blue Jays giving Hendriks a third look had they not locked into the multi-year option with Chad Green. I'd still be cool if they went this direction regardless... after last season I sorely just want people on this team I like, logistics towards winning games be damned. 

#50. Tim Anderson (CWS -- SS)

I know what you're thinking, because I'm sure thinking it too. The last time the Blue Jays went off and signed a young-ish experienced shortstop coming off a down offensive season... worked out pretty well, right? 

I'm of course referring to the second Alex Gonzalez, obviously... dude hit 17 home runs in 85 games, an OPS of .793 for us back in 2010. Or maybe Freddy Galvis? 18 home runs in 115 games ain't shabby either... a .743 OPS in that mostly putrid 2019 season. What? That's not who you're thinking of? 

I love my games of misdirection (you can tell) but getting into it, 2020 Marcus Semien and 2023 Tim Anderson were on very different levels. Semien played hurt for much of the shortened pandemic season, and an ill-timed slump wrecked his overall numbers in that smaller sample. 2023 Anderson was just really, really BAD, but a few warning signs (a drop off 66 points of isolated slugging from 2021) appeared in 2022 as well. Whatever the culprit, it's an astonishing fall for a player almost surely licking his lips at a six figure free agency deal just this past winter. After a season as one of the very worst players in the majors, where even his defense took a sudden bad turn... one wonders if he can even secure ten million for a single "rebound and prove it" season.

The Semien comparison only matches in how you might be adding a very good player at a short discount because of an off year, with the most important difference being how much incredibly worse Anderson was. Most guys don't get to bat .245/.286/.296 in over 520 at bats unless you're Alfredo Griffin or your team is very, very bad. And yet... hmmmmm. Anderson seems amiable to change positions, his OPS+ the past five seasons go: 128, 140 (pandemic), 118, 109 and 60, and if it doesn't work you probably only have him on a one year deal anyway. I suspect the decline in power is real, but all he needs to be is the 2021/22 version of himself to be a very useful player anyhow. It's... a compelling option. 

Other Players! I'll rapid fire most of them.

Victor Caratini (C) Your classic 'okay hitting backup catcher, for a backup catcher'

Adam Duvall (OF) Seeing as I remember Duvall from his Reds heyday, it's downright bizarre that as he's gotten older, he's played more centerfield than he ever did before. He was always a strong left-fielder, and that was during the time Cincinnati kept trying so desperately to make Billy Hamilton an everyday guy (the only thing Hamilton ended up good at was indeed playing centerfield). Duvall is the kind of hitter that would drive us bonkers in many other configurations of the Blue Jays, but now we all seem so thirsty for any breathing body that can launch a ball over the fence that even someone with a complete allergy to walks (a career .291 OBP!) is appealing. The sad part is... I'm not opposed to the idea either. 

Erick Fedde (P) Fedde-getabout it!

Kyle Gibson (SP) He can certainly give you innings in bulk, as uninspiring as they might be. Annnnd the Cardinals just signed him anyhow.

Clayton Kershaw (SP) Duh. But any other uniform than Dodger blue feels wrong at this point. I just want him to keep pitching forever.

Craig Kimbrel (RP) His opening five seasons in Atlanta have to be up among the most dominant five year stretches for any reliever in the history of the damn game. Then he kind of wanders in the woods... occasionally popping up for absolutely stellar years and then answering them with complete stinkers. He was overall really good for the Phillies in 2023, and also probably cost them a trip to the World Series. Just an electrically unpredictable career, and I don't know what to think of him. Myself, I'd prefer to keep the fork away from the open outlet.

Phil Maton (RP) A good middle reliever and I hate spending good money on those. If you're that desperate for them odds are you aren't a good team anyway.

Wade Miley (SP) Cards on the table: I really like Wade Miley. Fun to watch, like a clever 1990s lefty who just keeps hitting low corners. But aside from his stint on the 2019 Astros, where he badly faded down the stretch anyhow, Miley has not been the same guy on American League teams. Hasn't been the healthiest either as those late 30s loom upon him (he'd look good back in Cincinnati regardless)

Matt Moore (RP) Another in the pile of hot Rays pitching prospect that is amazing for a couple years then flames out. Took Moore a while in purgatory, but being left-handed always gives you a chance, and now he seems to have become a high quality LH reliever the past couple seasons.

Tom Murphy (C) Usually guys don't suddenly start hitting the stitches off the ball after they leave Colorado, but Murphy has 38 home runs in 807 plate appearances as a Mariner, for an OPS+ of 116. He's a 33 year old backup catcher I'd never heard of until writing this, but those numbers catch the eye.

Emilio Pagan (RP) Pitch to contact middle relief arm. And scene.

James Paxton (SP) Paxton and the Jays... together at long last? He was fairly decent for the Red Sox in 96 innings... first time he'd cleared 20 frames since 2019. 

Joc Pederson (DH) He's nobody's notion of an everyday outfielder anymore, and was never much of one to begin with... but aside from the occasional blip Pederson's bat has been potent enough to slot into a middle part of the order again RH pitching. As a power hitting platoon bat with little defensive value about to turn 32, it's not the splashiest pickup but a useful one perhaps.

Tommy Pham (OF) A late bloomer who can still hit enough to be useful to a good team. Heck, Arizona was batting him 3rd for much of the postseason... which was not entirely wise. Like Pederson, it's probably best to minimize how often Pham roams the outfield grass (although maybe more 50/50 than 20/80) 

Hunter Renfroe (RF) Another hitter of that Duvall mode, only younger, healthier, but not as good a fielder. All Renfroe really brings are home runs, which would be good! But if he isn't hitting 25-35 of them... well even the late season injury riddled Reds dropped him after just a dozen games. Could be an intriguing flyer but I'd want some backup plan/competition in camp.

David Robertson (RP) Soon to be a fun question on the MLB version of "Who He Play For?"

Hyun-Jin Ryu (SP) I thought he mostly looked just fine. Very cool with a reunion.

Gary Sanchez (C) I wonder if just telling him to leave the catching gear at home forever and focus primarily on hitting could bring out something. It doesn't work for every catcher (some just need to be that level of into the game as it happens) but its clear Sanchez just has so much raw power... I've always believed there's a 40 home run season or two in that bat. 

Ryne Stanek (RP) The OG Opener. Looks like and has the name of somebody who should be playing steel guitar in a country band.

Michael A. Taylor (OF) The 4thiest outfielder that ever 4thiest. Wonderful defender, questionable bat. I love guys who catch everything but we saw that last year. I wouldn't say no, however.

Joey Votto (1B) I'm sure you're all shocked, shocked! That I'm putting Votto on the list. Well for the record... this is MLBTR's list and they have him on there too. So take that.

Obviously I'm going to make a case to sign him and yes obviously I am aware that in objectively logical terms... it's not a move that makes optimal statistical sense. Well... forget optimal sense. I've seen that before, it was called the 2023 Blue Jays and it made me loathe this franchise in ways I thought unpossible (it even made me fail English, Principal Skinner). Frankly, I doubt a 40 year old Votto can match what we got from Brandon Belt in 2023... but you don't really need to completely hide him from lefties either (his recent splits lean neutral), he isn't just a total DH despite the age, his walk and home run rates were still above MLB average in 2023... don't put the dish away he ain't washed yet.

But really... Votto coming to Toronto to presumably finish his career, help the Blue Jays (even in a limited role as necessary) make it to the playoffs and overcome their recent demons... how can you not get excited for that storyline? The PR for the team alone makes it almost worth it... but the real addition could just be having his rather fun wacky personality around, being both a long time beloved veteran leader and an incredibly direct and thoughtful quote/interview. On the field I think he can help, off the field it almost surely would make following this whole thing endlessly more fun. 

You really wanna see him go sign in Boston or Tampa, or on the Yankees and watch them have an absolute hoot winning ballgames while Votto proves he still bangs? Or ending up in some soulless situation like Colorado or the White Sox where it doesn't work and he retires by May? Come on. Even if it turns out he can't cut it here... well sad as it would be that would be the second best place for it to all end. Make the Blue Jays fun again. Bring Votto home. Buy him a chessboard as a bonus for the press conference too.

Anyhow, those are my thoughts on free agency. Not a lot of hitting out there! Still, the realistic big splashes like Bellinger or Yamamoto would excite my bitter young heart... a buy low option like Hoskins or Anderson certainly intrigues... and bringing my man Joey into the fold would legitimately make me buy an overpriced jersey. Lets see what happens.       
Reviewing MLBTR's Top 50 2023 MLB Free Agents | 213 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
bpoz - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 07:41 AM EST (#439962) #
A fun read Eephus. I love that you put your humor and personality into these great efforts.
Leaside Cowboy - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 10:08 AM EST (#439965) #
Thanks, Eephus. Nice review of the free agent class.
Marc Hulet - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 10:44 AM EST (#439966) #
Snell and Bellinger have too many red flags to give the length of contracts they're going to get. Gray has serious makeup issues and is just another Anthony Bass.

Imanaga is a changeup guy that probably doesn't have the stuff needed for the AL East.

And I hope they move on from Chapman at the money/term he's going to get. He already turned down more from the Jays than he's worth. I can't stand watching him hit. He just has no instinct/approach at the plate.

My gut tells me the Jays are going to be more mid-level FA shoppers used by agent sto push up the $$$ on the big boys. And anything big will come via trade. I'd be happy with one of Hoskins or Garver. And a stop gap of Urshela and/or Brian Anderson at 3B until Martinez (who predominantly played 2B at AAA and winter ball) or Barger or Palmegiani (he'd probably be acceptable/steady there for a couple years) is ready.

I'd also look at MiLB FAs Alejo Lopez, Drew Ellis and Cody Thomas.

And inquire on trades for Nick Loftin or Jared Triolo as possible 3B guys while dangling some RP depth+ in return.
scottt - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 11:52 AM EST (#439967) #
I skipped over all the SP options. So many of them, but signing a starter now would be like going to the Chinese buffet and eating only desserts. Yes, I see children do that.

So many ex-Jays in the position players list.
It's like a high school reunion.

I'm surprised that they haven't extended Jansen.
Or at least tried.

Magpie - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 12:33 PM EST (#439968) #
Looks like and has the name of somebody who should be playing steel guitar in a country band.


Ducey - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 12:47 PM EST (#439969) #
Thanks for the great read!

You convinced me on Urshela. Not on Votto though. Watching one of the best Canadian ball players of all time come home and find out he is done would not be much fun. At best he is Curtis Granderson, and then we get to hear Buck talk about Veteran Presents all year.

A lot hinges on whether Manoah is on the treadmill and eating his veggies. If he is, then keep him. If he is still hitting the buffet then trade him and sign Ryu. Presumably they could get someone to play LF in the trade.

Although part of me thinks they should sign Ryu anyway and go with a six man rotation until someone gets nicked up.

mathesond - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 02:48 PM EST (#439970) #
"Veteran Presents" - the gift that keeps on giving!
greenfrog - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 03:05 PM EST (#439971) #
MLBTR reports that there are several teams interested in Vladimir…

Mike Green - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 03:12 PM EST (#439972) #
J.D. Martinez would be a nice complement to VGJ and Horwitz. Martinez torches left-handed pitching, VGJ has modest reverse splits and Horwitz is much better against RHP. You can get:

VGJ-600 PA playing first base against LHP and occasionally against RHP, and DHing against RHP fairly regularly

Martinez- 400 PAs DHing against lefties and occasionally against RHP and pinch-hitting, and

Horwitz-400 PAs playing first base most of the time against RHP.

I think you would have a decent chance to get 6-7 WAR out of the 1B/DH slots which would be quite a bit better than last year despite the loss of Belt.
greenfrog - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 03:32 PM EST (#439973) #
It's a good idea although there is age-related risk with Martinez, who will turn 37 next August.

Martinez (DH), Lee (OF), Yamamoto (SP), plus a third baseman, would be a terrific off-season.
Leaside Cowboy - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 04:05 PM EST (#439974) #
Yamamoto apparently has a preference to join a club with another Japanese player on the roster. With Kikuchi in the fold, the Blue Jays may have a leg up.
Marc Hulet - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 04:08 PM EST (#439975) #
I'm not sure you want to clog the roster up with three hitters with such limited defensive abilities/lack of versatility.

I'd much rather see Hoskins or Garver and avoid a 35+ year old DH. Or just go with it as a slot to cycle through every day guys that need rest.
Mike Green - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 04:11 PM EST (#439976) #
Justin Turner is also an option for a different version of the role.  He's not as good a hitter as Martinez, but hits lefties well and can likely still play first base well enough to be valuable there in a platoon role.  I don't imagine that he sees himself as a platoon player, but his defence at third base was much worse last year and he is 39, and he doesn't hit enough to be an everyday first baseman. 

The third base options in free agency are Chapman and Candelario, and the club doesn't really want to commit to several years and significant dollars, given that they aren't great players in the decline phase of the career and the club does have other choices.  If there is to be an upgrade at third base, it seems more likely to come via trade.

Martinez, Lee and Yamamoto would work for me. 
John Northey - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 04:29 PM EST (#439977) #
All fun, and this list was fun, to speculate about free agents. Until the big 3 hitters sign though the Jays will be quiet I suspect. Ohtani, Bellinger, Chapman are all on the Jays radar/wish list (as well they should be). If any are signed it would be just 1 of those 3. Odds are the Jays have their plan B's being negotiated with, all told once player A (parallel to them) signs then the Jays can dot the i's and cross the t's on a deal with plan B player. Urshela makes a lot of sense at 3B as he can move anywhere on the diamond as needed if a kid emerges ready to take over.

If the Jays get a big name then all bets are off, but right now I suspect they are chasing those big names hard. I'd love Yamamoto to be signed, especially if an Ohtani signing precedes it. That would free up Manoah to be delt easily without fear (while still having the option to keep him in AAA) and have zero pressure on prospects to do well quickly outside of injuries. As Eephus said - it isn't my money after all.
greenfrog - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 04:57 PM EST (#439978) #
Might as well go big at this point. Does Shapiro really want his legacy in Toronto to be a couple of "almost famous" teams and some meagre postseason success (followed by a bunch of rebuilding years)?

Win the whole thing now.
greenfrog - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 05:02 PM EST (#439979) #
Missed out on Cole, Seager, Freeman, and Verlander.

Don't be a bridesmaid again this off-season.
Leaside Cowboy - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 05:38 PM EST (#439980) #
"Veteran Presents" - the gift that keeps on giving!

Black Friday discounts!

dalimon5 - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 06:29 PM EST (#439981) #
"Missed out on Cole, Seager, Freeman, and Verlander."

This is why I always bring up these missed signings...if you're going to do it then do it. Shapiro has not gone all in ever in his career. Ever. Not with renovations not with signings not with trades, etc.

If he was a bit less risk averse he'd likely have Jose Ramirez as a 3B at a cost of Moreno or some combination of Groshans, Hoglund and Pearson. Instead they got Varsho who is nice but not MVP worthy.
greenfrog - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 07:24 PM EST (#439982) #
The window of contention was supposed to be 2021-2025. The team is decent as currently constructed but likely needs more to attain excellence (assuming that is a priority for the front office and ownership).

The great thing about Yamamoto and Lee is that they’re young. They would help the team remain relevant before, during, and after 2025.
dalimon5 - Friday, November 24 2023 @ 07:30 PM EST (#439983) #
I just ordered two stadium seats from the team which I will have installed in my home. These are old seats being replaced by newer ones from the renovation. I thought it was good that they offered this.
electric carrot - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 09:05 AM EST (#439985) #
Ohtani and done. That should do it. Blue Jays 2024 WS. Easy-peasy.
bpoz - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 09:35 AM EST (#439986) #
Last year meaningful signings and acquisitions had some kind of layering if I remember correctly. Kim Ng of Miami explained it quite well. She had to wait until the expensive FAs layer was done and maybe 2 other layers. Finally Jan 20 she traded P Lopez plus prospects for L Arraez. This same formula may happen this year.
Mike Green - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 10:56 AM EST (#439987) #
I never know for sure how serious people are about the superlatives for Ohtani. He's definitely unique and extremely talented. But taking into everything into account, he hasn't dominated his time the way Mike Trout or Barry Bonds (pre-lockout version) or Mike Schmidt or Joe Morgan or Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle or Ted Williams or Babe Ruth.

Fangraphs has him projected for 4 WAR next year. I think that's low; as a full-time rightfielder, I think 6 WAR is a fair expectation. One of the best players in the league, for sure.

If the Blue Jays signed him that they could reasonably expect to get 11 WAR from their outfield and 1.5 WAR from their third baseman. Last year, they got 10.5 fWAR and 14.3 bWAR from those positions (the defensive value of Chapman and Varsho and Kiermaier was the subject of disagreement). One can believe that Ohtani makes the other players around him better, but the evidence for that is slim, to put it kindly. And if you don't believe that, the club needs more than Ohtani to be one of the best teams in the league.
greenfrog - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 12:21 PM EST (#439988) #
I think the Jays would get more long-term value in signing Yamamoto, Lee, and another player or two, than they would in signing Ohtani for half a billion dollars.

In any event, I'm guessing Ohtani will sign with the Dodgers.

I think Yamamoto will sign with an American team. But I'm hoping the Jays will find a way (perhaps with some behind-the-scenes lobbying by Kikuchi) to acquire him.
Leaside Cowboy - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 01:57 PM EST (#439989) #
It's logical to use $50 M per season on several players instead of just one. Sometimes, though, it's fair to ignore the logic. Splurge! It's nice to have nice things.

Andrew Friedman is said to be obsessed with Shohei Ohtani, so the L.A. Dodgers are likely the front-runners. Certainly, teams like San Francisco or Texas will make a big push. Toronto has plenty of cash to make a strong bid, too.

dalimon5 - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 02:47 PM EST (#439990) #
I predict Texas signs Ohtani as a replacement for DeGrom who will retire shortly after returning.
John Northey - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 06:21 PM EST (#439991) #
I suspect if Texas signs him it'll be A-Rod v2. A few years of 'wow' from Ohtani, the team sucks due to other signings that go bad, the team/fan base blames Ohtani for not making everyone else play better, he gets traded and wins a WS with the Yankees. I really hope not, but easy to see after the WS win that anyone signed this winter will be blamed for the team not repeating.

Nah, the Dodgers have to be the #1 logical destination. But for $$$ the Dodgers don't have as much potential growth by signing him as others do. They already are pushing 4 million a year in attendance and have a TV contract through 2038 so they can't gain there, only via increased ticket prices and concessions pretty much. FYI: Dodger games are lucky to reach 400k viewers for any game vs the Jays averaging more and often getting more than double that - playoff potential is scary (a record was set at 1.3 million for opening day 2013 when hopes were the highest since the 1983-1993 glory days, shattered in 2015 at 2.03 million). 2022 saw an average viewership of 896,000 viewers. Sadly those figures aren't public anymore so no 2023 numbers. Basically the Jays are worth a killing to Rogers and adding a massive name like Ohtani could help push it closer to that 2 million figure. One can only imagine if the Jays ever reach the World Series again. The highest figure ever recorded is the 2010 Olympic Men's Gold Medal Game (NHL'ers with a shot at it all) at 16.67 million viewers. The 2010 Olympics hold most of the top 20 sports records - 20th is 7.43 million (top 20 has 8 events from the 2010 Olympics, 1 women's hockey Gold Medal, 5 men's hockey, opening/closing ceremonies). The Raptors win in 2019 got 17th place with 7.88 million - I see that as a floor for a Jays WS appearance. FYI: those figures came from a Wikipedia article, but generally ones like that are fairly reliable.

Bottom line: The Jays have a lot more to gain by signing Ohtani than the 3 time 100 win Dodgers do. But in the end #1 is what Ohtani wants and if he wants to stay on the west coast of the USA then no one can beat the Dodgers, everyone is just pushing the bid up.

As to the old 'spread the cash around' theory - I HATE that way of thinking. The Jays have done it a few times (see the JPR years near the end, same with the later Ash years after Clemens was traded). Generally all it does is lock in mediocrity. You want 4+ win players wherever possible, or at least guys who could do that (Bo, Vlad, Springer, Varsho have all done it recently, Chapman last year, Kirk just shy in 2022, Biggio on pace in 19 & 20 but not enough ML games for him either year to reach it) Some kids have that potential (Schneider did 1.8 in just 141 PA = pace for 7.7 over 600 PA). Ideally you have 5+ WAR potential (Biggio 19/20 was 5.0 in 159 games, Vlad 6.7 in 2021, Bo 5.8 in 2021, Varsho 4.9 in 2022, Springer was 6.4 in 2019). Guys like that give you a shot. Ohtani, Bellinger, and Chapman are the only hitters on the market with that realistic potential. Pitchers are harder to predict but Yamamoto certainly has shown that in Japan (his 1.16 ERA last year is Bob Gibson 1968 level of insanity). Snell has reached 5 WAR but he just isn't healthy enough to be counted on (I'd take him though even with his only cracking 130 innings twice in his career - maybe the Jays medical team that did such a good job this year could help him).

Or the Jays could sign, say, 4 meh free agents likely to produce about what guys we have would and the Jays might sneak in again like they did this year.
greenfrog - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 07:08 PM EST (#439992) #
I don’t love the “spread the money around” mindset either. That’s how the Jays ended up with players like Kendrys Morales and Randal Grichuk on multiyear contracts. But signing Yamamoto isn’t an example of this. He’s a 25-year-old superstar pitcher in Japan who looks like a strong #2 SP in the majors (he could also be a bust, of course).
John Northey - Saturday, November 25 2023 @ 11:29 PM EST (#439993) #
Agreed Greenfrog - Yamamoto, Ohtani, Bellinger, Snell all land under 'going for it with high quality' imo. Chapman also is in that conversation. Jordan Montgomery I don't put there, nor any of the others. All nice to have guys I'm sure, but for big impact there are just 5 guys. Snell is arguable due to his injury history. Bellinger has done amazing things but, like Vlad, has just the one 'wow' year - way back in 2019 (all others 4.4 and under).

FYI: for those wondering Teoscar's peak is 3.8 WAR in (you got it) 2021. Gurriel hit his peak last season at 3.0. JD Martinez's last year that was great was 2018 at 6.7, peak since is 3.5, in the 1's each of the last 2 years which is what I found for a few other big names - at least 5 years since their last 'wow' year. They could be good role players, placeholders until kids are ready but I wouldn't sign any of them until January or February at the earliest. Jung Hoo Lee is one of the great mystery players out there - he might be a great one, or might be a total flop - this is one where a teams scouts are critical - if he is a gold glove calibre OF then you can live with a poor bat for a year or two as a 4th OF. If his 340 career average there can be a 310 or better here he could be a great 1/2 hitter or a 'wow' later in the lineup but if it drops to 270 or less then his lack of power could be a death blow to his being more than a 4th OF (he takes LOTS of walks, but with no power in the majors and without a high average teams wouldn't nibble). With luck by the time Lee is posted we'll know what the top 3 hitters are doing, or the Jays will have a very good idea if they have a shot at any of them, thus letting them decide on going for Lee hard or just kicking tires.
greenfrog - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 06:40 AM EST (#439995) #
Morosi lists the Blue Jays as one of the dark horse teams in the Ohtani bidding, saying the Jays "are serious about pursuing Ohtani.”

Could be BS, and I doubt Ohtani wants to move to Toronto, but interesting to note.
greenfrog - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:26 AM EST (#439996) #
Also David Laurila on Fangraphs today:

I’m not a big fan of free-agent and trade rumors, as they are all too often floated out there for click-bait reasons. That’s not to say some don’t have a certain amount of validity, and that said speculation won’t actually come to fruition. As much as in-the-know sources tend to be stringently tight-lipped, legitimate interest in certain players, often driven by team need, is sometimes fairly obvious.

Those things said, I’ll offer my own take — this with the caveat that I have zero inside knowledge — on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.

The Toronto Blue Jays would be a perfect fit for the 29-year-old superstar. While many are of the belief that he would far prefer to play on the West Coast (and he very well may), Toronto is a large multi-cultural city that just so happens to have a baseball team that already possesses enough talent to win the World Series in 2024 and in seasons to follow. Moreover, Blue Jays ownership is deep-pocketed and reportedly willing to spend big. (They won’t spend to send their radio team on the road, but that’s because they don’t care about the quality of their broadcasts, not because they can’t afford to.)

Are the Blue Jays a likely destination for baseball’s most exciting and talented player? I have no idea, but Ohtani calling Ontario home makes a lot of sense.
Ducey - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 10:46 AM EST (#439997) #

David grew up in Michigan and went to Northern Michigan University, which is actually north of Toronto. He likely speaks with some authority about Toronto, but, as he states, none about where Ohtani might go.
85bluejay - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 11:35 AM EST (#439998) #
Mark Shapiro often talks about spreading the risk, which leads me to believe that spreading the money around is his preferred approach.
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 01:25 PM EST (#439999) #
I am going to do a study to attempt to provide some evidence whether WAR is linear or not.  The only study I can remember uses projected WAR and average annual value of free agent contracts.  I am going to try and look at it another way by comparing the performance of clubs with one pre-arb superstar (i.e 7 WAR plus) with a matched club with two pre-arb good to very good players (in the 3-5 WAR range) and similar relative payroll size and similar performance in the prior year.  A cohort study, if you will.  It's obviously not perfect- you could add other variables to establish the cohort such as similar average age the year prior.

Does anybody have any thoughts on study design?  Or studies on the point that I should look at? Thanks. 
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 01:28 PM EST (#440000) #
I might use players in the first year of arbitration also because the excess value is so great for almost all these players and the salary is not generally going to materially affect it.  I might set a limit of 3% of club payroll or something. 
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 02:29 PM EST (#440001) #
For the comparable payrolls in the elite division, I chose the Yankees (duh!), the Dodgers and the Red Sox.  From 1975 (when arb began) until 2023, the Yankees had 7 player seasons in pre-arb or first year of arb with 7 bWAR+, most recently Aaron Judge's 8 WAR in 2018.  The Dodgers had 3 such seasons, most recently Walker Buehler's 7.1 WAR in 2021 (Clayton Kershaw didn't surpass 7 WAR until his 2nd year of arb).  The Fenway crew boasted 16 such player seasons, most recently Mookie Betts' 10.7 in 2018.  Betts had two seasons, Clemens had 3, Boggs had 2, Rice had 1, Lynn had 1, Pedroia had 1, Garciaparra had 1.  So, your trivia question for today is: Who had the other 5 seasons (1 player had two of them)? 
scottt - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 03:34 PM EST (#440002) #
It's not really a question of risk.
They need a bat who can can score runs.
They will never be good enough defensively to win if they are just an average club offensively.
They've often relied on guys who can hit homeruns.
I don't actually remember this team ever scoring lots of runs outside of the long ball.

Belt was good, but a patient hitter who takes his walks isn't going to do it.
If they're not going to change their approach at the plate, they need to replace Chapman's 17 HR, Belt's 19 and Kiermaier's 8 and top that with another 20. That's about 65 HR that need to be found.

Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 04:02 PM EST (#440003) #
It was 30 years ago that the Blue Jays won 95 games and a World Series while finishing 6th in the league in home runs and 2nd in the league in scoring.  The hitting stars were Olerud, Alomar, Molitor and White, with the first three having the highest batting averages in the league.  They won despite having pitching that wouldn't scare anyone. 

There are lots of ways to score runs.  Home runs is a good one.  Getting on base more and not making stupid outs on the basepaths is a good one too.  The club was the 4th worst in baseball in baserunning according to Fangraphs, and no one who watched the club last year would disagree with that, although some might doubt that there were 3 worse clubs at it. 

No guesses yet on my trivia question.  One of the 7+ WAR Sox is a Hall of Famer (needless to say, the one who did it twice). 
Gerry - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 06:12 PM EST (#440004) #
The Jays re-signed Rafael Lantigua ten days ago, shortly after he declared free agency. This is per the Bisons transactions page.
Leaside Cowboy - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 06:56 PM EST (#440005) #
Who had the other 5 seasons (1 player had two of them)?

Ted Williams, surely. Carlton Fisk? Maybe even Babe Ruth? Big Papi didn't play defence, so that limits his WAR value. Carl Yastrzemski, definitely.

Leaside Cowboy - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 07:00 PM EST (#440006) #
Oh, we are looking at post-1975.  L-C is confused!
Magpie - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 07:21 PM EST (#440007) #
One of the 7+ WAR Sox is a Hall of Famer (needless to say, the one who did it twice).

That eliminates Mookie and Ratboy. Must be the Chicken Man.
Magpie - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 07:25 PM EST (#440008) #
The Fenway crew boasted 16 such player seasons

Ah-ha. I missed the actual question. Four other Red Sox accounting for five 7 WAR seasons since 1975. Let's see....

Mike Greenwell, surely.
Leaside Cowboy - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 07:55 PM EST (#440009) #
Josh Beckett might be one.
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:23 PM EST (#440010) #
Greenwell is one.  Boggs did it twice but I mentioned him among the 11 of the 16 I gave.

Youkilis didn't do it.
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:24 PM EST (#440011) #
And not Josh Beckett.
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:26 PM EST (#440012) #
The Hall of Famer is more famous for his work for another club. 
ISLAND BOY - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:29 PM EST (#440013) #
Is Big Papi one?
Leaside Cowboy - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:30 PM EST (#440014) #
How could we forget Pedro?
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:33 PM EST (#440015) #
Not Big Papi or Pedro.  Neither had their big years in their first 4. 
ISLAND BOY - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:37 PM EST (#440016) #
Bloody sock Curt Schilling?
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:39 PM EST (#440017) #
Not Curt Schilling.
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:42 PM EST (#440018) #
The Hall of Famer who did it twice was a pitcher. 
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 08:54 PM EST (#440019) #
The other two players were a shortstop and a centerfielder. 
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 09:22 PM EST (#440020) #
The Yankees who did it were Aaron Judge, Don Mattingly, Derek Jeter twice, Brett Gardner, Ron Guidry and Andy Pettitte.  The Dodgers were Walker Buehler, Cody Bellinger and Mike Piazza. 
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 09:32 PM EST (#440021) #
The shortstop's big year was in 1995 at age 28 in his 3rd full season.  He hit .298 with 27 homers, 37 doubles, 81 walks and 67 strikeouts.  He stole 20 bases and was caught 5 times.   He was a fine fielding shortstop at that point in his career.  The centerfielder had a 30-30 season in 2011 and hit .300.  He never had a season remotely like it before or afterwards. 
BlueMonday - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 09:36 PM EST (#440022) #
Fun trivia question. Eck? And was one of the others Nomar?
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 09:37 PM EST (#440023) #
Eckersley was the pitcher.  Nomar was mentioned in the 11 seasons I gave at the beginning. 
Mike Green - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 09:40 PM EST (#440024) #
I have to go.  It's easy to check the answers on BBRef, knowing the year and the position.
John Northey - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 09:57 PM EST (#440025) #
Wow, Pedro had 2 seasons over 9 bWAR in Boston, another 9 in Montreal, an 8 and a 7 season in Boston, and another 7 for the Mets. That is nuts. 6 years of 7+ WAR in his career. Just a shame he couldn't have won a WS with the Expos in '94 - they might then have been able to keep going instead of the sad fate that club fell to. A reminder of how dumb MVP voters used to be - in 2000 Pedro had 11.7 bWAR, A-Rod 10.4 - so you had a crazy good season from a pitcher, a 'wow' year from a SS, but the MVP went to a slow, PED fueled 1B in Oakland (Jason Giambi) instead who had a lower OPS, and played 10 fewer games than Carlos Delgado that year (same position, Jays were in contention that year somewhat finishing just 4 1/2 out of the East lead, in part because their manager was dumb enough to keep Homer Bush in the field for 76 games despite a 33 OPS+ often over Grebeck who had a 94 that year after a 124 the year before). One also has to question how the heck you can be so bad at managing and have such a bad pitching coach that Carpenter could have an ERA+ of 81 and Halladay a 48 (10.64 ERA) in the same year. Talk about wasting assets!

Argh. Anytime I look back at the Ash years I get into a rant. So much potential wasted. And why? Because they kept doing stupid things over and over again. Basically the Jays of the late 90's early 00's were the Angels of the past few years - 2 HOF or near HOF talents wasted on a team that just couldn't put it together.
Eephus - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 10:21 PM EST (#440026) #
My guess if we're talking centerfielders would be Coco Crisp. I remember him having a brief and very good stint in Boston.
Eephus - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 10:23 PM EST (#440027) #
Was Jose Valentin a Red Sox as well in the mid 90s?
Eephus - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 10:29 PM EST (#440028) #
Wrong on both! Disregard anything I say... beyond this article of course.
dalimon5 - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 10:37 PM EST (#440029) #
I guess Jacoby Elsbury.
dalimon5 - Sunday, November 26 2023 @ 10:43 PM EST (#440030) #
I think you're right on Valentine. I had to look up the leader board for SS. Havent looked up the OF yet.
Mike Green - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 07:28 AM EST (#440031) #
Jacoby Ellsbury is correct. John Valentin was the shortstop. And I suppose that he will forever be confused with Jose Valentin, who played shortstop for the Brewers at the same time. It's a similar situation to Wally Schang and Ray Schalk, catchers in 1920, but with names that are even closer.

The 1995 MVP vote is eye-opening for young people who may not realize how far the game has come in some ways. Mo Vaughn was a sluggish slugging first baseman for the Red Sox who had a good year- 4 WAR. John Valentin put up similar offensive numbers for the Sox and was a fine fielding shortstop with decent speed- 8 WAR. Vaughan won the MVP and Valentin finished 9th. There were other players who had plausible MVP cases-Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez from the Mariners, and Albert Belle from Cleveland. But to choose a player as MVP someone who was far from the best player on his own team? Bad.
ISLAND BOY - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 08:20 AM EST (#440032) #
I looked up Curt Schilling's stats and he had 7.8 WAR in his first year with the Red Sox in 2004.
Mike Green - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 08:36 AM EST (#440033) #
That's right, Island Boy. But, he wasn't pre-arb or in the first year of his arbitration.  Schilling had been in the league for 15 years and made $12M that year.  In 2004 terms, that was a very large salary.  I was looking at pre-arb and first year of arb because the mechanics are very different than in the free agency market (for the purpose of the study I was talking about up-thread). 
dalimon5 - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 08:37 AM EST (#440034) #
WAR is a relative stat do you need to make sure you are using the same aggregator that Mike used since WAR from one publication is different from WAR from another.
Gerry - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 09:14 AM EST (#440035) #
Yesterday Kenta Maeda went to the Tigers.

Today, Sonny Grey is going to sign with the Cardinals. Eephus wanted him as a Blue Jay but at least he didn't sign with the Yankees.
Mike Green - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 09:20 AM EST (#440036) #
I used Baseball Reference's WAR. Greenwell, Valentin and Ellsbury would have qualified using Fangraphs WAR. Eckersley would not have- Fangraphs starts with FIP rather than ERA, and Eckersley's FIPs were pedestrian.
greenfrog - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 09:38 AM EST (#440037) #
Ken Rosenthal says Gray's contract is for 3/$75m. Based on what we've seen so far this off-season, the Blue Jays should be ready to spend if they want to land any good free agents.
Mike Green - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 10:10 AM EST (#440038) #
If a win is valued at about $10M, Gray's contract seems to be entirely reasonable.  He's not particularly durable but very effective (he's never had particularly good defences behind him-he's had xERAs under 4 every year since 2018).  For comparison, Berrios has been durable but has had xERAs over 4 every year since 2019. 

Gray's situation is fairly comparable to Bassitt's last year, with Gray being a little better.  Bassitt got 3/63.  Maybe there has been 5-7% price inflation over the year- free-agent ballplayers, lettuce and everything in between. 
greenfrog - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 10:19 AM EST (#440039) #
Good points, but Gray was a bit older than Bassitt when they signed their respective contracts, and it probably would have taken more money to bring him to Canada — perhaps 3/$80m or 3/$85m.

Maybe there was a “character penalty” for Gray in the FA market as well.
greenfrog - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 10:23 AM EST (#440040) #
I seem to recall it took an extra contractual year for Toronto to land Martin and Springer in free agency.
greenfrog - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 10:24 AM EST (#440041) #
Same with Ryu, I think.
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 12:15 PM EST (#440043) #
Leaside Cowboy now enjoys MLB network.  The pundits suggested a fantasy trade with the Mets:  Pete Alonso + Jeff McNeil in exchange for Vlad + Manoah.  No, thanks.  Meanwhile, Jon Morosi says that Toronto is a good fit for free-agent Rhys Hoskins.
85bluejay - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 12:17 PM EST (#440044) #
I will be surprised if the Jays spend any significant money on starting pitching. I expect a depth piece.
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 01:19 PM EST (#440045) #
Looks like Jason Heyward stays with the L.A. Dodgers for 1-year / $ 9 M.
Gerry - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 01:21 PM EST (#440046) #
What is the Jays pitch to a starting pitcher? It's either:

1. You will compete with Manoah in spring

2. We are moving Kikuchi to the bullpen

3. We are trading a starting pitcher, or

4. Here is a huge pile of cash, don't worry about anything other than that
scottt - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 01:26 PM EST (#440047) #
Sonny Gray, with an A , spent 2 years in the Bronx and it wasn't pretty.
Loads of boos.

He went 4-7 with a 2.72 ERA in 2017 and followed that up with a 4.90 ERA in 2018.
I never thought a reunion could be in the cards, but at least, he didn't sign with Boston.

scottt - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 01:42 PM EST (#440048) #
A club never wants to start the year with the 5th starter collecting a big paycheck.
It's not as bad as giving a huge contract to a bench player, but it's pretty close.

Mitch White is a tentative long man once again.
Francis could be pushed a bit harder. Tiedemann should start in AAA.

Beyond that, the pen has 2 lefties with Mayza and Cabrera.
Romano closes, Swanson and Green can set up.
Garcia is down to a middle reliever role and can probably be solid if not used back to back too often.
Richards  can be the short to long man if White falters again.

Other depth guys who can go multiple innings:
Pearson, Pop, Zulueta (could be really good in the pen) and Brendon Little.

Last chance for Hagen Danner to earn his spot on the 40.
Let's hope he's healthy.

Mike Green - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 02:56 PM EST (#440049) #
Yamamoto presumably would be told that he would line up behind Gausman. Depth-signing pitcher would be told that he would be competing with Manoah and (hopefully) Bowden Francis for the 5th spot in the rotation. They probably shouldn't be looking for someone between those two-cost too much for the marginal improvement.
Ducey - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 03:32 PM EST (#440050) #
"What is the Jays pitch to a starting pitcher?"

5. We are trading Manoah
bpoz - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 05:16 PM EST (#440051) #
Good FA SPs left are Yamamoto, Stroman, Snell, E Rodriguez and Montgomery. I expect them all to get about $25mil/yr. LAD, NYY and possibly NYM should all be trying to sign 1.

Winter meetings start next Monday.
Mike Green - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 08:33 PM EST (#440052) #
I've spent some time on Yamamoto- watching video, reading prospect reports and stat lines with adjustments.  I think that he's the best pitcher to come out of Japan, and likely to be one of the two or three best pitchers in baseball over the next 7 years.  It's mostly subjective.  He reminds me mostly of Greg Maddux. Not in all ways, of course; Maddux didn't throw 95 and reach 97-98 for one thing. 

He hasn't had the mileage on his arm at a young age that Darvish had, and I love his delivery.   7 years @ 28M was the estimate from Fangraphs for a 25 year old ace starter.  Sign me up. 
greenfrog - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 09:24 PM EST (#440053) #
BA has a detailed writeup on Yamamoto with some interesting content (I mentioned it about a month ago) — worth a read. MLB scouts *really* like him. One interesting observation is that he elevated his game this year — and he was already really good before that. Here’s an excerpt:

“Yamamoto went 16-6, 1.21 in 23 starts for Orix this season, the lowest ERA of his career. He allowed just two home runs the entire season, the fewest of his career, and posted a 6.04 strikeout-to-walk rate, the best mark of his career.

“‘He took a step forward to being great this year,’ said one National League pro scouting director who has made multiple trips to Japan. ‘He’s got so many weapons. Pitchability is so good….This guy has power, feel, aptitude, deception. He makes it work. He’s going to be a No. 2 or No. 3 starter.’”

I don’t think 7 x $28m is going to be enough to land him.

I could see the Jays making it to the short list of bidders. They have some points in their favour (competitive team, respected organization, good pitching staff, Kikuchi, Pete Walker, large national fan base, multicultural city). On the other hand, they’ve never managed to reel in a Japanese star before. Now would be a great time to start.
John Northey - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 09:43 PM EST (#440054) #
Given #6 starters are getting $10 mil now (see Reynaldo Lopez - a solid setup man who is going to be stretched back out to be a long man/6th starter for Atlanta, signed 3 years $30 mil with an $8 mil team option for year 4), I'd think all teams with an eye to the future should be chasing Yamamoto hard for under $30 mil per over 9. The Jays, imo, should chase Yamamoto or Snell hard for a #1b slot after Gausman in the rotation, then figure out what to do about Manoah and Kikuchi - trade one or leave Manoah in AAA as plan A for any injuries (he has 2 options left) - yeah, Manoah would be royally pissed about that, but that is life. Odds are someone would be traded between him and Kikuchi then. Yeah, Stroman, E Rodriguez and Montgomery are all very good but with the starting depth here you want a potential ace or a guy you can stash in AAA. Of course, we also have White hanging around too as a 6th starter option. Not to mention prospects who could get a shot at some point in 2024 like Tiedemann and Francis.
Leaside Cowboy - Monday, November 27 2023 @ 10:13 PM EST (#440055) #
The New York Post predicts a bidding war for Yamamoto between the Mets and Yankees, " with the opening ante expected to be around a cool $200 million. "

Yoshinobu Yamamoto to Toronto? YY to YYZ!

bpoz - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 07:29 AM EST (#440056) #
I am always curious as to what benefits a prospect is entitled to when he makes the ML but is unable to stick for long.

I believe D Schnieder is entitled to benefits based on arrive Aug 4 and stayed till Aug 30 and all of Sept. So not a Sept callup.

Maybe O Lopez is entitled also because he spent a bit of time on the ML bench but his game playing was very little. C Eden was a Sept callup. Sept may not count but in his very short 10 days he scored 1 run and got 1 hit.
scottt - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 08:44 AM EST (#440059) #
Manoah has very little value at this point. Acquiring another starter would be like DFAing him.
Sure way to get nothing for him.
A year ago he was getting the ball for game 1 ahead of Gausman.

Mike Green - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 09:03 AM EST (#440060) #
Yamamoto being a #2 or #3 starter (say the equivalent of Chris Bassitt) is interesting, but not really a high priority for the Blue Jays.  It's the prospect that he may be one of the very best pitchers in baseball for a prolonged period that would be the attraction.  It would not shock me at all if he is indeed the best of his time as Maddux was. Scouts will say that Ricky Tiedemann could be a #1 starter.  And that's true.  But his chances, no disrespect intended, are considerably less than Yamamoto's, in my view.

Wouldn't it be cool if the Blue Jays decided that the money they were going to spend long-term on Bichette and VGJ went to Ohtani and Yamamoto instead, and they decided to take the luxury tax hit for 2024 and 2025? I would venture a guess that if they were able to do that, they would sell out the season.  I have no idea if it would work economically, but when the Jays were at their peak in the early 90s, they ran the highest payroll in baseball.  I have read different numbers for the current capacity for baseball, 41,500 is the seated capacity but there's also the outfield district.  The luxury tax threshold for 2024 is apparently $237 million.   They are, after all, a big-market club.  November dreamin'.

Mike Green - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 09:22 AM EST (#440061) #
Acquiring another starter would not be like DFAing Manoah.  It would simply indicate to him that he is not guaranteed a spot in the rotation at the beginning of the season.  The message is that we are going to have see evidence of your readiness in spring training and (likely) early season minor league starts given how last year went.  Yusei Kikuchi is in the final year of his contract and was sent to the pen when he struggled the year before last.  The issue, of course, is that Kikuchi has a different personality but Manoah isn't going to succeed unless he makes some adjustments and that will take some time.  He needs to be told that quietly and firmly by the organization. 

ZiPS projects Manoah to have a 4.48 ERA, just a little worse than Kikuchi.  That seems about right as of today. 
greenfrog - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 09:55 AM EST (#440062) #
Have the Jays ever won a FA bidding war when there were 10+ teams heavily involved? It seems like they usually land a player when there are only a few serious suitors.
greenfrog - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 10:02 AM EST (#440063) #
I don't think Yamamoto has to be one of the very best pitchers in baseball to be an attractive player in free agency. Because of his age, if he is durable and pitches similarly to (say a bit better than) Stroman or Gray for the next seven or eight years, he'll be well worth the $200m+ investment.
dalimon5 - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 10:30 AM EST (#440064) #
Trevor Bauer had 5 or 6 strong suitors and apparently the Jays were one of them and lost.

I couldn't agree more with the feeling that Yamamoto should be the guy to sign up long term and build out from there.
bpoz - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 10:42 AM EST (#440065) #
Gausman, Bassitt, Berrios and Kikuchi are set for the rotation based on last years performance. Manoah's performance last year has brought uncertainty to the #5-8 SPs. Most teams plan for 8 SPs.

So who are our 4 SPs covering #5-8? You definitely have to count Manoah and M White as the top 2 potential #5 SPs. It is very possible that one of our above mentioned top 4 gets injured or struggles. We can always hope for the unexpected bonus performances similar to Ray/Matz, Stripling and Berrios, Kikuchi, Bassitt we were lucky to get over the last 3 years. Counting/hoping for a bounce back performance from a recent 3rd place Cy Young pitcher like young Manoah is definitely a good bet IMO.
John Northey - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 10:48 AM EST (#440066) #
My 4 after the big 4 are Manoah, White, Francis, Tiedemann. Ideally the Jays sign 2 AAAA types to keep in reserve in Buffalo.
John Northey - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 11:03 AM EST (#440067) #
My perfect world is the Jays signing either Yamamoto or Snell then trading for Soto (Trade Values claims Manoah, Espinal, Zulueta, and Garcia would do it - gives them a starter, 2 relievers, and an infielder). It'd be an interesting deal that I think would help the Jays a lot in 2024 and if they sign Yamamoto too then the rotation is set in stone for 2024 and only needs 1 guy in 2025 (Tiedemann). Sets up LF for this year as a killer position too.
dalimon5 - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 11:37 AM EST (#440068) #
We saw Gausman deal with some soreness last year. The rotation on a whole overpitched last year. I would feel a lot better if there was a strong contingency plan if/when one or more of the top starters go in the IL.

Kikuchi's value is very high now, I would move him before he regresses.
Mike Green - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 11:38 AM EST (#440069) #
Yamamoto doesn't have to be one of the best pitchers in baseball to be worth a $200 million investment, but if you are looking at $250 million or more, that is what you are hoping for.   To give an example, Sonny Gray from aged 26 to 33 has generated 20 WAR.  You might choose to spend the money another way than spending on a pitcher like a young Sonny Gray. 
Glevin - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 11:43 AM EST (#440070) #
I don't expect Jays to go big after any pitcher. Rotation is already solid. I think they'll try to sign one or two guys for the back end though. Guys like Paxton, Severino, Lugo, etc...Then, team can concentrate on adding bats. Tons of goodoptions at DH (Belt, Hoskins, Pederson, Turner, Martinez, Soler, etc...) A few decent ones at LF (Pham, Gurriel, Teoscar, Pederson) and almost nothing for 3B so a trade makes sense there.

Some 3B options to trade for that could easily be available:
Jorge Polanco is a switch hitter who can play 2B/3B but Twins have Julien and Lewis there who are much cheaper and also better. He's owed 1/$11 or so and team has a $12M option for next year. He would take a prospect or a player but nothing outrageous to acquire. Twins probably want a pitcher.

Nolan Gorman. The Cardinals used to be such a smart organization but last few years, instead of consolidating their prospects and trading for star players, they've mostly been signing middling players and holding on to their prospects. Not sure what the Cardinals want because they are kind of mediocre everywhere. Gorman isn't good defensively anywhere but can play 2B and 3B and can really hit.

Moncada: Owned 1/$30 (with buyout) so big negative contract so would be easy get with White Sox adding players/paying down some contract. Has been terrible and great so hard to know who he is. Last 5 years, 2 seasons with WAR over 4 and 3 seasons with WAR under 1.1.

greenfrog - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 11:51 AM EST (#440071) #
Mike, I qualified my comparison by saying "if [Yamamoto] is durable and pitches similarly to (say a bit better than) Stroman or Gray."

I would pay 8/$250m for a 25-year-old IFA with good attributes who would perform a bit better than Gray and (unlike Gray) be a durable SP in the majors.
bpoz - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 11:51 AM EST (#440072) #
With respect what is a AAAA SP? Not Zach Thompson I presume. 2 of that caliber would be good IMO because they should have an option and could finally figure it out. Or a Hatch, Kay on a minor league deal so they can also give it another try. Casey Lawrence is definitely a AAAA SP because he could not stick when called up. Late signings I expect.

St Louis has signed Lynn for $11mil and Gibson I am guessing for $15mil. The S Gray signing gives them their #1 SP. That is 3 potential reliable SPs. Matz & Mikolas (200IP in 2022 & 23) is 5. Liberatore, Drew Rom and Jack Thompson are young and sort of ready. So not a shallow rotation. But not deep enough IMO. Young pitchers from all over the 2 leagues will surprise IMO. Like they always do.
greenfrog - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 12:03 PM EST (#440073) #
To be clear, I'm not predicting that Yamamoto's ceiling is less than that of an ace or #1 starting pitcher. I'm saying that, in my view, there is a range of outcomes that would justify signing him to a large contract (from Maddux/ace at the high end, to a durable and slightly enhanced version of Gray/Stroman at the low end).
Leaside Cowboy - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 12:07 PM EST (#440074) #
Tons of good options at DH . . . A few decent ones at LF . . . and almost nothing for 3B so a trade makes sense there.

Very sensible outlook.

dalimon5 - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 12:22 PM EST (#440075) #
Pundits on MLBTR had the Jays taking Mahle.
Marc Hulet - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 12:58 PM EST (#440076) #
I'm not sure there is anything beyond entertainment value with MLB Trade Values... There is no way Soto goes for Manoah, Espinal, Garcia, and Zulueta. That's one injured starter (with questionable makeup) plus 3 players with replacement level or worse value. But likely not even then. I doubt the Jays could get Soto without giving up Tiedemann or Bichette... The market for a Top 5 bat - even with one year remaining - is competitive.
Mike Green - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 01:06 PM EST (#440077) #
I don't disagree, greenfrog, about the value break-point.  What makes Yamamoto attractive for the Blue Jays right now is the reasonable possibility that he could be a 5+ WAR pitcher and be a huge significant upgrade right now. If so, you end up generating 3.5- 4 wins beyond what you already have without giving up talent, and there are very few players who can do that for you.  Ohtani, Bellinger and Lee (if healthy) are the others. 
ISLAND BOY - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 01:06 PM EST (#440078) #
More speculation: Tamara Rainey has an article where she predicts the Jays signings: Matt Chapman 5 years/ 110 million, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. 13 million/no years given, Nick Martinez 2 years/10 million and possibly Mitch Garber for DH/C no terms guessed.

Jim Bowden has a free agent prediction for each team. He had the Dodgers signing Ohtani for 10 years/417 million with incentives that could reach 500 million. He also predicts that the Jays will sign Chapman for 6 years/127 million.

Personally I would be leary of signing Chapman to a 5 or 6 year deal. He would be blocking some of the prospects coming up and would surely regress over the course of the deal.
Glevin - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 01:28 PM EST (#440079) #
I get wanting Chapman back as a good option, I just don't think he's the kind of guy you give significant money to. Steamer has him at a 103 WRC+ with pretty good D next year and I think that's accurate and a slight decline every year. I'd expect the next four years to be something like 2.5 WAR, 2 WAR, 1.5 WAR, 1 WAR and declining from there. I just wouldn't be interested in a long-term contract that wasn't a steal.
Ducey - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 02:03 PM EST (#440080) #
Not a fan of signing Chapman for 5 or 6 years.

Its great watching him fire 95 mph fastballs over to first, but his defense will decline. He bat has too many holes in it.

I'd prefer Urshela. Maybe he has a good Gio year (his good years and bad years seem to alternate). At worst, he is a fill in until a prospect or two runs over him.

They may also want to take a look at Nick Senzel. Presumably cheap after being non tendered. Hit lefties well last year can play 3B and OF. He might find his footing with a new team.

A minor point, but still a consideration, is the draft pick they potentially lose if they sign Chapman (qualifying offer).
greenfrog - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 02:18 PM EST (#440081) #
Mike, that is a good point. The only thing I would add is that adding Yamamoto would likely also bolster the team's fortunes beyond 2024-2025. I believe the team wants to be a perennial contender and Yamamoto would be helpful on that front. The Blue Jays front office has not been good at developing its own starting pitching (look at the rotation that was in place at the end of last year--no homegrown pitchers).
John Northey - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 02:36 PM EST (#440082) #
Chapman would be nice to keep if the Jays don't feel any of their kids are ready for prime time yet at 3B (Rafael Lantigua, Orelvis Martinez, Addison Barger). All 3 had lots of time at 3B, SS, 2B, with Barger moving mostly to RF, Martinez to 2B and Lantigua left at 3B (but tons of time in LF/RF/2B/SS, 30+ starts at 3B/LF, 20+ at SS, 12 in RF, 5 in CF). It is an interesting situation. Mix in Biggio, Espinal, and Schneider as options too. But the Jays seem determined to hold onto Chapman which makes me wonder if they have little confidence in any of those guys being solid at 3B.

Seems Chapman's asking price is $150 mil over 5-6 years, which makes me nervous as 3B don't normally age well (thus why so few in the HOF vs other positions). A 5 year covers age 31-35. BR has Carlos Santana as his #1 comparison through age 30 (from 31-35 he had a 108 OPS+, 10.9 bWAR, dragged down by defense which I doubt would happen to Chapman). #2 is Todd Frazier (98 OPS+ over those years, 7.5 bWAR), then comparisons get very weak with #5 being Ed Sprague (a worst case - done at 33 0.7 bWAR from 31 on, but had just one year of 3+ WAR in his career), #6 Jose Bautista (has to be best case, except staying at 3B vs going to RF - 21.2 bWAR ages 31-35, FYI: by 30 Jose had his 50 HR season and just finished his 182 OPS+ season). No HOF'ers on his list which is never a good sign at 30 if you are debating a big deal like this.

If the Jays could get him for 5/$110 then yeah, sign him. But I wouldn't plan on more than 10 bWAR from him going forward if I was betting my own money on it. His core value has always been defense so moving him to 1B/LF/RF/DH isn't a practical option imo (lifetime 117 OPS+ - same as Vlad had in 2023, his off year).
Mike Green - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 02:43 PM EST (#440083) #
I agree about that too, greenfrog.  The pitching outlook from 2025 isn't exactly overwhelming.  Yamamoto is a piece that you can build upon, in my view.  Generally I prefer position players for those roles because they are more likely to sustain performance in a predictable way, but I'd make an exception in his case. 
Marc Hulet - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 03:05 PM EST (#440084) #
Eno Sarris had an interesting tweet about Jung-hoo Lee and his statcast comparisons to Kim:

Ha-Seong Kim, 2020 in KBO for Kiwoom
90.1 average EV
13 Launch Angle
50.4% >95mph
108.9 max EV

Jung-hoo Lee, 2022 (healthy season) in KBO for Kiwoom
88.7 ave EV
12.3 LA
37.7% >95mph
107.0 max EV
greenfrog - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 05:51 PM EST (#440085) #
The idealist in me wants to believe the Jays are going to make a real effort to sign Ohtani or Yamamoto, as those moves make excellent sense for the organization. My inner cynic thinks the Jays are letting it be known that they’re “pursuing” these players, without any real expectation of signing them (for purposes of impression-management with their fans).
Mike Green - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 05:51 PM EST (#440086) #
Lee is more in the Tony Gwynn/Luis Arraez vein. He's not likely to hit 20 homers in MLB. Arraez' avg. exit velo this year was 88.3 and his max was 104. Arraez hit 10 homers this past year. I think will do a little better than that, if healthy. Slightly higher launch angle than Arraez and more pulling the ball in the air. He does not have centerfield power.
uglyone - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 05:53 PM EST (#440087) #

but the renos.
Ducey - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 06:19 PM EST (#440088) #
"The idealist in me wants to believe the Jays are going to make a real effort to sign Ohtani or Yamamoto, as those moves make excellent sense for the organization. My inner cynic thinks the Jays are letting it be known that they’re “pursuing” these players, without any real expectation of signing them (for purposes of impression-management with their fans)."

There is another reality. They could be making a real effort, and offer the most money, but could be shut down at any stage of the process by Ohtani.

The Jays have offered the most before and been turned down.

The guy is going to make half a billion dollars, plus endorsements, plus everything else. Money is not likely to be the issue. It will be all the other stuff. If he wants to be a Hollywood star, likes palm trees, has an estate picked out in Georgia, has always dreamed of wearing pin stripes like Babe Ruth, hates bagged milk or whatever, the Jays are just not going to get very far.

I mean there are a dozen teams that you would say have no chance based on geography or city. Like he is not going to the Rays no matter how much money they offer, despite the fact they are a winning organization.

We think otherwise as we think Toronto is swell. Surprisingly many in the world don't agree.
greenfrog - Tuesday, November 28 2023 @ 07:14 PM EST (#440089) #
Longenhagen on Fangraphs has this to say about Yamamoto (he's posted a 4-min video of him as well):

A mainstay at or near the very top of this player category since 2021, Yamamoto has been the best pitcher in Japan for the last several seasons and he's a virtual lock to be an impact MLB starter from the second he ties his spikes on our shores. In his walk year with Orix, he produced two more WAR than the next best NPB pitcher (Roki Sasaki) even though Yamamoto threw 30 fewer innings (164) than he had in each of the last two seasons. He produced his third consecutive season with a sub-2.00 ERA, as well as a sterling 26.6% K%, 4.4% BB%, 53% GB%, a microscopic 1% HR/FB% and a career-best 1.74 FIP. A plus-plus on-mound athlete with mid-90s arm strength, Yamamoto locates virtually all of his pitches at will and walked just 28 batters across 164 innings in 2023. His mid-90s fastball (he averaged 95 mph but peaks in the 97-99 mph range) enjoys substantial in-zone whiff utility thanks to his velo, the rise/run shape and shallow angle of his heater, and Yamamoto's feel for locating it in the top third of the zone and above. After several consecutive seasons of decline, Yamamoto showed an uptick in two-seamer usage in 2023, though his groundball rate dropped four percentage points compared to prior years. His four-seamer pairs nicely with a nasty, old school, upper-70s curveball, which Yamamoto uses to both get ahead of and finish hitters. A low-90s splitter is his best pitch and most-deployed secondary weapon. It has exceptional bat-missing drop and doesn't need to be located precisely in order to play. A more pedestrian slider/cutter, which lives off of Yamamoto's consistent glove-side command, rounds out his repertoire.

Inextricably linked to Japanese pitching prospects are questions about how they'll respond to a potential change in routine (a start once every five days instead of once a week) and how their breaking stuff will play upon transition to the lower-seamed MLB baseball. While these apply to Yamamoto, it's plausible an MLB team will parlay his combination of arm strength and feel for spin into a better hard slider, or variant thereof, so there is also some "good variance" around the way I'm projecting Yamamoto's breaking ball(s) here. The entire package is very reminiscent of peak Zack Greinke, as Yamamoto's frame, delivery, stuff quality and command are all of that ilk.
bpoz - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 10:28 AM EST (#440090) #
Atkins spoke to the media yesterday. Much was not clear enough to bank on except he was quite clear that a good option was to deal a SP. Manoah seems safe because he was referred to as being more than the #5.

I had to read that 3 times to understand what it might mean.
Leaside Cowboy - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 10:39 AM EST (#440091) #
Shi Davidi suggests "  it’s best to run his comments through an Atkins-to-English dictionary. "
Gerry - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 12:10 PM EST (#440092) #
BA have published their top 10 prospects. I started a separate thread to discuss.
Ducey - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 12:18 PM EST (#440094) #
I am not one to criticize management, but the GM speak is off putting.

On one hand it is understandable that he is going to be going to be coy when discussing potential transactions.

On the other, the baffle-speak language comes so easy to him, I am concerned that is how he thinks, or that he thinks he sounds smarter for it.

dalimon5 - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 12:52 PM EST (#440095) #
If this wasn't the norm I would be bothered. Have you guys/gals seen other organizations and how they handle conferences, problems, company statements etc? Baffling is the norm and seems to be by design.

Just look at the Chicago Blackhawks. An organization that went through a sexual misconduct controversy in which the organization lied about the whole thing and covered it up. A year or two later and now there is another issue from the same team and nobody knows what the reason is for one player being terminated without explanation. The team says "it's wrong to assume anything," before they give a bunch of things that did not cause the termination and conclude that they can't say more... If that organization doesn't feel compelled to be 100% transparent in the face of what they just went through a few years ago then I think it says everything about how teams and businesses are conducting themselves.

With Atkins he tries to get cute. Instead of just saying he won't address something he instead decides to say everything he can to a) pretend he wants to address it or b) is actually addressing it or c) does neither of a) or b) and just leaves impression to reader/listener that he avoided the question and turned it into a positive about something else in the vicinity of the topic which does not equate to the crux of the question/inquiry. Equation = Atkins is an idiot with big words and enough attention to string together concepts and terms just enough to make tangents appear as "answers."
Mike Green - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 12:59 PM EST (#440097) #
Word, LC. It is possible to speak diplomatically and non-comittally without resorting to bafflegab.
bpoz - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 01:04 PM EST (#440098) #
So I misinterpreted about trading a SP?
greenfrog - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 01:11 PM EST (#440099) #
My concern is about the real-world impacts of the bafflegab. Did it lead to confusion about the chain of command and on-field decision-making in 2023? Does it deter potential staff or free agents from signing with Toronto?
John Northey - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 01:11 PM EST (#440100) #
I suspect he is open, but only to trading Kikuchi or minor leaguers. Manoah has Cy potential so you want to hold him unless someone offers value based on his potential. IMO it means he is chasing top starters hoping for a multi-year commitment so we don't end up short post 2024.
ISLAND BOY - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 01:22 PM EST (#440101) #
Well, Atkins is excited by Mitch White apparently so that makes one of us. Atkin's bafflegab is what politicians do - say a lot without ever answering the question. I've heard Leaf's GM Jim Treliving, and before that, Kyle Dubas, a speak multiple times and, unlike listening to Atkins, I've never thought afterwards," What the hell did he just say?"
Gerry - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 01:25 PM EST (#440102) #
Ben Wagner has been dropped from the radio broadcast. I am not sure why although I always thought he was average in the job.

I would bet that Shulman junior gets the job. He seemed decent when I heard him last season, he is Canadian, and I assume cheaper than Wagner.
Jonny German - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 01:36 PM EST (#440104) #
The weird thing about Atkins being so bad at speaking to the media is that his mentor Shapiro is quite good at it.

Like most roster decisions, I’m sure any thought of trading Kikuchi is on hold until the Ohtani sweepstakes are resolved. It’s possible playing with Kikuchi is a plus for Ohtani (however small it may be), and they’re not going to throw that chip away.
scottt - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 01:58 PM EST (#440105) #
A low-90s splitter is his best pitch and most-deployed secondary weapon.

All Japanese pitchers throw the splitter but they use a smaller ball and not all of them are able to throw it with an MLB ball. Kikuchi's, for example, is not great. Tanaka had 7 great years with the Yankees, pretty much on the strength of his splitter. However, Tanaka is 6'3" and Yamamoto is 5'10", so I see a risk there.
(Kikuchi is an even 6' tall.)
scottt - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 02:11 PM EST (#440106) #
Atkins said that he can't say much about free agents.

He said that Varsho should be in center and I agree. That  should be his position, not left field.

He said that they have enough depth at third base and left field to focus on other positions if they can.
Sure, sign Hichiro and nobody will care who plays at 3rd and LF.

Manoah wants to go back to being an All-Star and seems to be training towards that.
So, not trading Manoah because he's cheap and could be great again, but not closing the door on signing a starter--which would force them to trade a starter. I assume that would come to be if they can trade a starter for a position player who fills a hole. A complicated scenario.

Not trading Bichette.Why would they?

dalimon5 - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 02:51 PM EST (#440109) #
"I've heard Leaf's GM Jim Treliving, and before that, Kyle Dubas, a speak multiple times and, unlike listening to Atkins, I've never thought afterwards," What the hell did he just say?""

Meh. Dubas is clear and articulate but what's the substance of what he says?

Reporter: Do you have any plans on how to address the elephant in the room regarding your top 4 players who have underperformed in every playoff series they have ever participated in and how do you plan to improve for next year?

Kyle Dubas: "It's been a really taxing year on my family and that's really important to me. Now I'll open up the conversation for questions."

If you watch his end of season presser I would argue it's even worse than Atkins.

"The goal is the same but the path has to change."

"From what I've seen from Sheldon, I felt that Sheldon and his staff made adjustments that put our group in positions to capitalize."

"In game 3 we had 5 odd man rushes based on the coaches changes. If those adjustments weren't happening I would be more down on him. To do an analysis on his performance right now would be hasty."

"I need to have a full family discussion before I commit to anything without having a fuller understanding."

The bullshit-meter is still hitting high marks if through a more "genuine" feeling conference. To conclude, my favourite:

On the question of if he wants to remain GM of the Leafs, "I definitely don't have it in me to go anywhere else. So it will either be here or taking time to reflect. You won't see me next week pop up elsewhere. I can't put them (his players) through that after this year."

That was May 15th and less than 2 weeks later he was wining and dining before being hired by Pittsburgh on June 1st. Family was taxing in Toronto so let me uproot my family and move them to a different country....
Petey Baseball - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 03:20 PM EST (#440114) #
Just a comment on the move in the radio booth...

I felt Wagner was too over the top in his delivery, especially after a home run. He also had an annoying habit of describing the action in great detail, except the most important parts of the action (at least if you're listening on radio) which is the count, the inning, and the score.
Spifficus - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 04:31 PM EST (#440116) #
The worst I remember for bafflegab wasn't a GM - it was John Farrell. The way he spoke triggered my inner Inigo Montoya, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." By that standard, Atkins is a clear and concise communicator.
John Northey - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 04:59 PM EST (#440118) #
Seems odd to say 3B/LF are not to worry spots. I guess at 3B you'd have Biggio/Espinal and any kids who can handle it (Martinez & Barger seem not to given they have moved more or less to 2B/RF respectively). LF is probably Schneider as I don't think the Jays liked his defense at 2B for some reason (seemed OK based on stats) mixed with anyone they sign. That would mean all the focus is on DH and 2B (unless they resign Chapman - shifts Biggo/Espinal back to 2B). Beginning to seem like they are putting a lot of eggs into the Ohtani basket, which at best is a 1 in 3 shot, probably more like a 1 in 10 shot right now. Jays have moved up to 2nd in online betting on it but I don't want to keep my hopes up too high.
SK in NJ - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 06:49 PM EST (#440120) #
Seems like the Jays view Orelvis as a 2B now, which does make the interest in bringing Chapman back or signing Candelario a bit more understandable. I don't see a legit 3B option in the minors that is close if Orelvis isn't seen as the answer there. If they sign Ohtani (which I don't think will happen but hypothetically speaking), then that makes it a bit easier to try to cheaply piece together 3B for the short term, but failing that, I do expect them to end up with one of Chapman or (more likely) Candelario. There just aren't many options there.
dalimon5 - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 08:29 PM EST (#440124) #
I think Martinez is more likely to be included in a big trade.
dalimon5 - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 09:25 PM EST (#440125) #
Joey Wendle was available? He would have been perfect for the Jays.
dalimon5 - Wednesday, November 29 2023 @ 09:36 PM EST (#440126) #
Looks like the hottest rumour is Snell signing with the Mariners and one of their young pitchers being shipped out for a bat. That's a good move the Jays should try emulating...if it happens of course.
Jonny German - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 03:36 AM EST (#440128) #
You must be looking at a Joey Wendle card that ends with his 2021 stats. He'd be a second-stringer on the Buffalo Bisons, it's shocking he got a major league deal.
scottt - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 08:26 AM EST (#440130) #
Wendle will probably be a bench player for 2M. They also picked up Severino for 13M.
They look more like a rebuilding club signing bounce back potential guys whom they could trade before August.

scottt - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 08:38 AM EST (#440131) #
The Mariners GM loves making trade.
They're likely to to make some trades no matter what.
It's a team that just missed the playoffs.
They share the division with 2 powerhouses and 2 bad teams.
As they stand, Urias is at 3B, Cade Marlowe isin LF, Josh Rojas is at 2B and the DH is Dominic Canzone.

They have a good rotation but the bullpen isn't deep.
Also, they need to factor Robbie Ray somewhere.

bpoz - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 09:41 AM EST (#440132) #
Definitely agree with scottt about the Mariners. Their rotation is very, very deep. L Castillo, L Gilbert, G Kirby, Ray & Marco Gonzales both at some point, B Miller, B Woo and E Hancock are young and have already played at the ML level. I don't know if Seattle is a pitcher friendly park.

The Mariners O is the big problem. IMO they had a successful 2023 because they were competing for a playoff spot until the last series of the season. Every team will accept that performance I believe except maybe the NYY in the AL.

Last year they struck early by getting Teo for a reliever and a pitching prospect that was not high on their prospect list. I hear the rumor that Snell may go to the Mariners. The Mariners may be one of the stars of the off season.
ISLAND BOY - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 02:10 PM EST (#440136) #
I've seen reports that the Rays are shopping Randy Arozarena.
uglyone - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 04:48 PM EST (#440139) #
Looking forward to raising the "Ohtani Runners-Up" banner.
greenfrog - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 04:58 PM EST (#440140) #
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Leaside Cowboy - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 06:43 PM EST (#440142) #
Arozarena could be a fit in LF. Atkins likes controllable players. No idea what kind of return Tampa would seek. Re-build the Barrio?
scottt - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 08:16 PM EST (#440145) #
Glasnow is obviously the guy the Rays need to trade to balance their budget.
He's making 25M this year.
However, the free agent market is loaded with pitchers, the Mets are signing discount players and many teams already have set rotation. What people are looking for are young controllable starters.
The Marlins have 2 or 3 of those for grab.

Who knows what they will do. It's the Rays.
Arozarena is projected to make around 9M in arbitration.
Margot is signed for 10M, Brandon Lowe for 8.75M, Yandy Diaz for 8M and Zach Elfin for 11M, but 18M in 25.
And who knows what's the situation with Franco.

dalimon5 - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 11:07 PM EST (#440148) #
Holy sheets, Shohei to Blue Jays is picking up steam!
John Northey - Thursday, November 30 2023 @ 11:59 PM EST (#440149) #
I'd be super careful about trading with the Rays - they are known for steals so Atkins should be very very careful if he does a deal there.
bpoz - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 07:01 AM EST (#440151) #
Without adding any player of significance (spend $15mil) and call it a day can the Jays still be in contention for a playoff spot until the last series of the season? The probable goal I expect. If this is the outcome then everyone is reasonably content.

What does the FO think of this? 1) Without a long term expensive contract then the payroll is not compromised going forward. 2) No big trade means we keep all our good prospects (top 10). 3) We scramble at the deadline (as usual) to slightly Hicks) or significantly (Berrios) improve the team.
Leaside Cowboy - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 07:14 AM EST (#440152) #
Well, the Golden Bachelor is off the market.  Ohtani still available.
hypobole - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 11:15 AM EST (#440156) #
"I'd be super careful about trading with the Rays - they are known for steals"

Yes, and that's why it's good to have trade talks with them.
bpoz - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 11:53 AM EST (#440157) #
Rumors are that the Rays will try to trade T Glasnow. Don't know if he is worth $25 mil for 2024.
scottt - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 11:58 AM EST (#440158) #
I don't see much surplus value for Glasnow.
They could probably get more if they can hold on to him until the deadline.

They have 3 positions players (all infielders) in the top 100 who could get more playing time.
They can always plug one of them in LF.

Mike Green - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 01:57 PM EST (#440167) #
Forget about Ohtani the marketing object for a moment and think about the ballplayer.  He turned 29 in July and just had his second surgery on his throwing elbow 9 weeks ago; the first was Tommy John and the second may not have been full replacement of a ligament but a significant ligament repair.  He came to MLB at age 23 as a two-way player and has continued through age 29 in that role successfully. 

First, one thinks about Ohtani the position player.  He's likely to be a DH and perhaps maybe play some first base later in 2024.  In that role, he has posted a 161 OPS+ over the last 3 years, with the last one being the best- highest walk rate of his career, lowest K rate, highest IsoP.  If he had not been shut down early due to the elbow symptoms, it would have been far and away his best season.  Is there reason to believe that he might be able to sustain that improved level of performance into his early 30s? I think so.  He has adjusted to MLB in a unique role, and this could be expected to delay the full blossoming of his offensive prowess.  The other thing is that his body type- lean and muscled (he's an inch taller and 5 lbs.heavier than Ted Williams) is often associated with better durability of performance.  On the other hand, the elbow injuries (particularly if he continues pitching) pose a significant risk of deterioration in his offensive performance in the next few years.  Next question: could he be an outfielder in 2025 or later.  Good question.  I really don't know, but it may be that his best chance to stay in the lineup and contribute something defensively is at first base.

Second, Ohtani the pitcher.  When he has pitched, he has been great over the last 3 years-5th in ERA among starters throwing 350+ innings behind Woodruff, Fried, Kershaw and Scherzer.  But, he's made 23, 28 and 23 starts over the last 3 years.  He might be great again after his second surgery, but personally I like his chances better if he does something that doesn't stress his arm.  Like hitting.  Which he happens to be exceptional at. 

I did a Stathead search of players who generated 45 WAR+ from age 29.  There were 46 names on the list from Barry Bonds down to David Ortiz (and not all of them were in the PED era).  Names that jumped out at me were Babe Ruth (97 WAR from 1924 on), Ichiro! (48 WAR) and Lou Gehrig (56 WAR despite the premature end of his career due to the illness that bore his name for many decades).  Ohtani is a unique talent, and I think there is a decent chance that if he were made a first baseman, his offensive performance of last year would be sustained for 600-650 PAs per year for the next 5 or so.  

There's obviously a lot of risk with Ohtani, but amazingly some upside as well. 

greenfrog - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 02:51 PM EST (#440168) #
I think I would rather Ohtani DH than attempt to become a first baseman at this stage of his career. The position change is not worth the injury risk.

In any event, the bigger question is, is a player with that upside and those risks worth a $550-600m contract?

Maybe the answer is yes, if you’re the Blue Jays front office and you desperately need to put together winning seasons and expand the revenue base in 2024-25.
greenfrog - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 02:55 PM EST (#440169) #
In addition to the elbow issues, I think he had an oblique injury in 2023.

Of course, we all still want him to come to Toronto. But there are red flags.
Marc Hulet - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 03:09 PM EST (#440170) #
Interestingly, Tyler Heineman has been claimed off waivers by the Mets.
Mike Green - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 03:10 PM EST (#440171) #
I wouldn't spend $600M, and I'd think very hard about $550M and probably say no. At $500M, the economics are much closer to balanced. 

If he's a DH, it's hard to get to value at $550M.  Edgar Martinez was the best DH in his 30s and amassed 56 WAR between age 29 and age 40.    That the top end, or close to it, for a DH, outside the PED era.  The top end for a first baseman would probably be 70-75 WAR, but there is some risk and it might take Ohtani a while to be serviceable or better defensively. 

scottt - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 03:12 PM EST (#440172) #
He played some outfield at 18, (about 56 games) but I wouldn't try that until his arm his completely healed.
Maybe he could still pitch in relief with a couple of days of rest in between outings, even if he can't start again.
That's still a free reliever, which is pretty valuable. 

To lure Othani, I'd go with a massively front loaded contract with opt out every year.
Nothing to lose.
Does anybody regret those 2 years A.J. Burnett pitched in Toronto?

Mike Green - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 03:13 PM EST (#440173) #
That's true.  Ohtani's season ended with the oblique injury.  Definitely you want a discount for that.  The oblique injury could be more damaging to his long-term offensive prospects that the UCL.The caveats are well-taken. 
greenfrog - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 03:15 PM EST (#440174) #
Let’s say the final number is $530m. Does Ohtani genuinely want to come to Toronto, or is his agent using the Jays as a means of extracting that amount from another team like the Dodgers?

Another aspect of the negotiations is whether Ohtani wants to pitch for a few more years. You can’t sign him for $500m+ on that understanding and then prohibit him from getting on the mound.
greenfrog - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 03:22 PM EST (#440175) #
Some other benefits of signing Ohtani could include:

-Future Japanese players (like Darvish, Tanaka, Yamamoto) being more open to coming to Toronto

-Huge increase in interest in the Jays in Canada and globally (along with higher, perhaps significantly higher, revenues for Rogers)

-Significant improvement in the team's chances of making and going deep in the postseason in 2024-25
hypobole - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 03:45 PM EST (#440176) #
One more benefit, for me at least

-No longer having to endure the constant "Always the FA bridesmaids" posts.
Mike Green - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 03:52 PM EST (#440177) #
Upgrading at DH incidentally tends to be cheaper than at other positions, from my recollection (I wonder if there are studies).  There tend to be more Mike Napolis and Brandon Belts which drives the price down a bit at the medium level of ability.
greenfrog - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 04:07 PM EST (#440178) #
Maybe the best plan would be to use Ohtani as a DH through his 30s, and also let him pitch for a few more years (say 2025-27, throwing around 120-160 IP per year), and hope that he stays healthy enough to be productive in both roles. He's a career 146 wRC+ hitter, and much better than that in 2023, so maybe he can be around a 140 wRC+ hitter for at least the next few years.

His next contract will likely be a significant overpay in terms of on-field value, but the signing could still make sense in the larger context of generating additional revenue and fan interest.
John Northey - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 05:10 PM EST (#440180) #
The bridesmaids posts are annoying. Us geezers remember when the Jays were no-mans land for free agents in the 80's. One guy in particular (Storm Davis) said he was thinking of signing until the Montreal Massacre when his wife saw it on TV and said something to the effect of not wanting to live with all those French people. Sigh. I felt it should've ended with the signing of Jack Morris (seen as the top free agent in 1991-1992), then Dave Winfield, then the next winter Dave Stewart and Paul Molitor. Then during the dark years Roger Clemens signed here with the hidden 'trade me if asked' clause. Mix in other signings like the past few offseasons (Ryu, Gausman, Springer, Bassitt) and it is clear the Jays no longer are the team of last resort for free agents, if they ever were. Places like Pittsburgh, KC, and the like are lower on the list for most free agents I'd think (poorly run teams, low budgets, low hope of anything but a paycheque).
scottt - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 05:15 PM EST (#440181) #
Yeah, the Heineman news came out of the blue. Nobody noticed he was even put on waivers.

That's an interesting timing. The 40 roster is now at 37 with the rule 5 draft coming up next week.

He could be back on waivers before the season starts but the Jays are picking pretty late, so they will probably have to sign a vet to a minor contract.

2024 could be the year Jansen stays off the IL but I wouldn't bank on that.

scottt - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 05:18 PM EST (#440182) #
I can't see Othani wanting to play 10 years in Toronto, but being on a contending team with the ability to jump ship whenever he feels like it could be appealing.
greenfrog - Friday, December 01 2023 @ 07:02 PM EST (#440185) #
The Jays have certainly landed some significant free agents in recent years, with most of those contracts (like Bassitt, Ryu, Gausman) landing in the $63m-$110m range, with Springer the outlier at 6/$150m.

Are any of those contracts in the Seager / Semien / Cole / Turner / Judge range? No.

Have the Jays ever landed any significant Japanese free agents (like Ichiro, Darvish, Tanaka)? No.

But it's an improvement and that should be acknowledged. And it's extremely encouraging that the Jays seem to be a real bidder for Ohtani this off-season.

Probably the main reason why they haven't been to the World Series in over three decades is because the farm system has fallen off in recent years. And possibly because some of the coaching has been substandard over the last few years (just a hypothesis).
dalimon5 - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 07:57 AM EST (#440189) #
The city of Toronto is probably the most attractive city in Canada if you're a free agent athlete. In Canada and the US Toronto might crack the top 10. I'd rather be in SF, Miami, NYC, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orange County or San Diego. Considering NY, LA, CHI have two teams...Toronto barely cracks the top 10 and I'm not including BOS.

The reality is the Jays have done sell signing free agents since Beeston was replaced by Shapiro. They have also been in on bigger free agents like Seager, Verlander, Bauer and Freeman who all chose one of 20 other teams that are bigger, nicer to live in and is where they all are accustomed to living (including Freeman who moved to the US a long time ago.)

I prefer to see the signings they have done and the "aftermath" comments by athletes and agents describing them as consistent finalists or #2's for top free agents. This is a good indicator compared to simply seeing who they actually ended up signing since it's the player who gets final say.

It's not fair to grade this FO on their signed free agents without at least acknowledging the barrier and handicap that they have compared to the other top 10 cities and teams in the league.
ayjackson - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 08:55 AM EST (#440191) #
Back in the day, I'd be lying in bed awake until 2 or 3am waiting for news to drop this time of year. Did I get old or did Boras kill some of the excitement of the winter meetings by holding up the market on key dominos?
Mike Green - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 09:05 AM EST (#440192) #

But I did too, so what can you do? Better than the alternative.
dalimon5 - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 09:44 AM EST (#440193) #
Gonna shift gears a minute. I heard David Ortiz talking about Vlad. Call me gullible but I'm back on board the Vladdy band wagon. He's 24 and if they can extend him and he can reach his potential, oh boy.

What do we know, maybe management wants to sign Ohtani, resign Vlad (and develop him) and then trade Bo for a haul next year. Here's where I'm at:

Vlad has gone on record to say he wants to sign long term.

Bo appears to be going straight to free agency.

Ownership and Shapiro clearly have interest to add another big bat.

If they can sign a big bat, go for it in '24 then trade Bo for prospects ot would serve their states intentions from beginning to contend while having "waves" of prospects.

If this is all true then they're basically all in on Shohei and Plan B would presumably be a Soto trade which isnt ideal since you lose prospects instead of $$$. Plan C is signing 5-6 WAR via 2-3 player signings. Similar to last year.

SK in NJ - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 11:31 AM EST (#440194) #
The more I think about it, the more I am open to a Bichette trade regardless of who they sign/trade for. He wants to test free agency and he’s going to want a $250-300M contract. There’s just too much risk in his profile for that type of money/term. If there is a way to turn him into 2-3 pieces that can help in 2024-25 and beyond, then it would be smart to at least pursue it. Hypothetically they could trade Bo for the best package they can get, and then pursue someone like Kim or Adames in a trade to fill SS in 2024. If you want to build something sustainable beyond 2025 then you either have to extend or trade Bo/Vlad, and Bo clearly has the higher value and is the least likely of the two to re-sign. If they actually succeed in signing Ohtani then trading Bo might be more advantageous as there would be a greater need for cost effective players on the roster if one player is making $50M plus.
Leaside Cowboy - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 12:14 PM EST (#440195) #
L-C believes in Vlad, too.  As both a hitter and 1st baseman.
Mike Green - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 12:41 PM EST (#440196) #
I'm agvlastic.
Marc Hulet - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 04:56 PM EST (#440197) #
With Ohtani being Japanese as opposed to American, it's possible the allure of US cities is not necessarily there. And he's a private guy. You couldn't pay me to live in the US... heck he could get a really nice place in Vancouver on the west coast and also maintain a home in Toronto.
Gerry - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 05:04 PM EST (#440198) #
Atkins said during the week that the Jays could trade for rentals. I don't think that is a surprise. As I have said a couple of times, Atkins is on thin ice and he doesn't care about prospects who are not useful in 2024.

Now there is a report that the Jays are the favourites to land Juan Soto after the Yankees didn't want to give the Padres the prospect package they were looking for.

I know flags fly forever but this is a high risk, short term, strategy.
uglyone - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 05:27 PM EST (#440200) #
Hector Gomez says jays are favorites to get Soto
greenfrog - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 05:30 PM EST (#440201) #
Boras seems to respect the Jays organization. Would he broker discussions about a long-term deal to facilitate a trade, a la Mookie Betts and LAD?
Gerry - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 05:33 PM EST (#440202) #
A Soto potential contract was discussed on the MLBTR podcast this week. Given Soto's age, 25, and how he will hit free agency at 26, as far as I remember they were talking of a 15 year, $500M contract.

Would you go for that?
uglyone - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 05:37 PM EST (#440203) #
Without hesitation.
Marc Hulet - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 05:42 PM EST (#440204) #
I'd do a deal for something like Manoah, Pearson, Barger and Horwitz - 4 near MLB ready players, which the Padres want. Maybe throw Espinal in too. Assuming everyone can pass physicals.

And maybe the Jays can get Homer Bush Jr. also :)

But keep Tiedemann and Martinez.

Getting more aggressive on Soto might suggest the Jays are getting less confident in Ohtani.
85bluejay - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 05:46 PM EST (#440205) #
The irony of the Jays willing to trade for rentals because Atkins is on thin ice ala AA in 2015 when he was on thin ice and Shapiro reportedly blasted him for trading away prospects.
scottt - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 06:03 PM EST (#440206) #
Not really the same thing.
Soto would be for one year, not 2 months.
The Jays had no rotation to start 2016, except Stroman and Dickie.
Heck, their best reliever after Osuna was Biagini whom they picked up on the Rule 5, followed by Jason Grilli whom they ditched out of nowhere.

Carrera, Darwin Barney, Ryan Goins, B.J. Upton, Josh Thole, Junior Lake, Darrell Ceciliani. (Chris Colabello before he hit the fan). So little depth.

Imagine the antics of Vladdy and Soto hitting back to back!

dalimon5 - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 06:25 PM EST (#440207) #
I'd sign him to that contract no hesitation. I'm more confident of Soto than Ohtani.

This is nothing like AA, nice try. First, they already have a contending team that's really good, not an average team like Beeston and AA assembled. Second, for the hundredth time, AA made the moves AFTER being notified he was not retaining his position due to lack of confidence from the ownership group. Finally, do you really think Atkins calls these shots? No? So it's Shapiro...does he strike you as a guy on the hot seat? When you're on the hot seat you don't get ownership to sign off on half a billion dollar player acquisitions...

I rest my case....
uglyone - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 06:29 PM EST (#440208) #
The idea that they would let AA trade away all their prospects after letting him go always struck me as funny
Leaside Cowboy - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 06:42 PM EST (#440211) #
Juan Soto was frozen in carbonite and taken by the bounty-hunter Bo Bichette.
dalimon5 - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 06:48 PM EST (#440212) #
Ugly, AA's boss was also not being renewed so who was going to stop them? Do you really think Edward Rogers would get involved and prevent them from trading two big prospects for David Price and Tulo while also getting Reyes off the books?
uglyone - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 06:55 PM EST (#440213) #
"prevent them from trading two big prospects for David Price and Tulo while also getting Reyes off the books?"

So you're saying those were goos trades. Especially given those prospects were busts.
dalimon5 - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 07:28 PM EST (#440214) #
Has anybody anywhere ever said otherwise? They were amazing trades that seriously lowered the strength of the farm but transformed the organization. Its the reason AA is so beloved. Nobody's ever said they were bad trades. People have said that it gutted the farm.
bpoz - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 07:44 PM EST (#440215) #
I am hoping to hear AA talk at the winter meetings. I like hearing him.
ayjackson - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 10:03 PM EST (#440216) #
Well, I'm going to sleep. Happy Winter Meetings!
dalimon5 - Saturday, December 02 2023 @ 11:52 PM EST (#440217) #
Will this be one of the most important Blue Jays weekends in an offseason, ever? Will this weekend see the biggest free agent signing ever happen (in all sports)?

Your Blue Jays are front and center.
Ducey - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 12:31 AM EST (#440218) #
Man, some you people need to get back to reality. Ohtani + Soto + some other big name is simply an impossibility.

Atkins said Rogers would allow them to be "nimble". The choice of that word implies being careful.

They are not going into $300 million territory.

They MIGHT get one big name. If its Ohtani, you can expect it will guaranteed for a year, as his contract will have an opt out every year.
John Northey - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 01:03 AM EST (#440219) #
I've been having fun dreaming of the impossible lineup (Springer-Ohtani-Bo-Soto-Vlad) which would slaughter WAMCO but really, I suspect the Jays are setting up a 'if we don't get Ohtani, we get Soto instead' situation. They NEED that big LH hitter who'll be between Bo & Vlad. Ohtani costs cash only (a truckload), Soto will be prospects & cash if you want multiple years.

What prospects will it be? I suspect Tiedemann is the core. Risky, but he only has 140 2/3 IP between regular season and Fall League over 3 years, 37 starts = 3.8 IP per start (4.5 in the fall league this year, under 3 IP per game during the regular season). I'm beginning to fear he might be a reliever only. But he has the potential to be an ace too which is why he would be the centerpiece of a deal. Of course the last guy everyone was super-high on was Austin Martin and we all thought the Jays grossly overpaid for Berrios by using him (and Simeon Woods Richardson) in a trade. Ends up they didn't overpay unless something big changes for one of those 2 guys soon. SWR has -0.2 bWAR so far (2 ML games) and had a 4.81 ERA last year in AAA with horrid stats (4.8 BB/9 7.6 K/9) for that league. Under a K per inning and you are below average and this kid was way over that as a Jay (13 range). Martin has yet to get an 800 OPS at any level and is entering his age 25 season so the clock is ticking loudly.

Prospects are great to have, but the Jays are in a win NOW time (2 years of Bo & Vlad left) so it is time for crazy big risks. Trade anything you got for Soto and sign him long term and you're set with a HOF'er in LF for his prime years, fail to sign him long term and you get one dice roll at a title with him. We'll see what the Jays do. San Diego was key to the 2 WS in the 90's with THE TRADE, maybe they can be again.
uglyone - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 02:11 AM EST (#440220) #

* LF Soto
* SS Bichette
* DH Ohtani
* 1B Guerrero
* RF Springer
* C Kirk/Jansen
* 3B Biggio/Espinal
* 2B Schneider/Espinal/Biggio
* CF Varsho

looks sold. let's go.
uglyone - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 02:13 AM EST (#440221) #
"Nobody's ever said they were bad trades."

wait a sec...what now?
dalimon5 - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 08:19 AM EST (#440222) #

Two posters have said "can you imagine if..."

We're all excited at the prospect lf this FO getting one of either player not both.
bpoz - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 08:25 AM EST (#440223) #
NYY have to get 1 of Ohtani, Soto or Bellinger IMO. That is the big bat they need . They need a good SP as well. This will help them improve enough to simply compete for a playoff spot.

Ohtani will get a long and expensive contract as everyone knows. Stanton got a long and expensive contract. Cashman said Stanton will get injured as usual at some time in 2024. Then had to retract his words. IMO that was frustration and possibly fear speaking. Does Cashman feel secure? An ageing player declining is expected by everyone.

I would like to see Seattle get Soto which would mean that the 2 biggest traders did business. Finally.

Ohtani to LAD has always been mostly expected. Any where elso would be very interesting.

bpoz - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 09:05 AM EST (#440226) #
Hardly any talk about Teo. He just turned 31 in Oct. 3-5 year contract is reasonably possible. OF/DH and possibly 1B. His power bat will cover a hole in the lineup. This will allow time to sort out our power prospects for breaking into the lineup.

Remaining O holes in the lineup are CF Varsho who should play full time, 2B & 3B which will be a contest at some time in 2024. Our 3rd C is a problem.
Leaside Cowboy - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 10:42 AM EST (#440228) #
" Somewhere, over the rainbow, blue-birds fly . . . "
Petey Baseball - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 02:35 PM EST (#440233) #
I, like others, see a potential Soto trade as a quick pivot if Ohtani signs elsewhere. Either scenario is an expensive risk (in Soto's case, prospects and money and in Shohei's case, a whole wack of money).

I can't help but wonder why this route wasn't taken last season. If people can recall, I pounded the drum for the Jays to be as aggressive after the big fish as they appear to be this hotstove, reasoning that the core as constituted was not championship caliber, nor would it be if simple marginal moves (which ended up being the case) were made. Now, would opening the vault to sign DeGrom, Turner, Correa, or a few of the other potential elite players led to 97 wins and a deep playoff run last year? Hard to guess. But it sure is nice to see that desperation has apparently focused the mind of the Jays front office. This team was never a Kevin Kiermaier, a Brandon Belt or even a Chris Bassitt away from being considered a championship contender, and we should have never been led to believe otherwise. It was never about discipline or home run jackets or bad baserunning. It was a lack of proven talent and production, period.

Hopefully the coming days bring us the positive result of the Jays braintrust pulling out all the stops to bring star players in their prime to Toronto, once again.
greenfrog - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 03:20 PM EST (#440234) #
It sounds as if the crop of FAs was much better the last couple of off-seasons than it is this off-season. There is going to be intense competition for the small group of elite FAs this off-season.
John Northey - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 03:37 PM EST (#440235) #
I'm seeing the current Jays goals (via rumor mill) as...
  1. Sign Ohtani (then cheap spare parts for anything else)
  2. Trade for Soto (then try to sign him long term)
  3. Resign Chapman (then see if other solid players can be signed for LF/DH)
  4. Sign Bellinger (thought he was higher but no rumors around him in a long time so pushed down)
  5. Jeimer Candelario for 3B/DH (cheaper option)
  6. Jung Hoo Lee for LF (seems low on their list right now)
  7. Bring back Teoscar if he'd play LF/DH, if not then maybe Gurriel (yeah, free agent options are limited this winter)
Not a lot of great options after the first 4. All downgrades from 2023 imo after the big 4 (Lee has potential but being from Korea is a big crapshoot). The great pitchers out there (Yamamoto, Snell, Stroman) are expensive and I suspect the Jays will be in touch but more on a 'just in case break glass' situation. I suspect for pitching they'll keep an eye on the higher end starters and if one has trouble signing (ala Semien a few years ago) the Jays would jump in and figure out how to fit it together (probably a trade of Kikuchi or Manoah).

I agree with the Jays 1/2 options, I get wanting Chapman back, and Bellinger could be nice in LF but the rest of the options drop quickly and might not be better than just using Biggio/Espinal at 3B, Schneider at 2B, and hunting down bargain bin guys for LF, DH being a rotation of whoever needs a semi day off. Ideally they get someone for 3B so Biggio/Espinal/Schneider can fight over 2B/LF with the kids in AAA and a cheap free agent or two.

So my ideal is signing Ohtani, sign Gio Urshela or Justin Turner for 3B, and find a decent player with some holes for LF (ie: bad fielder or can't hit RHP or can't hit LHP but does something really well - ala signing Kiermaier last winter, maybe Joc Pederson, Michael Brantley) or trading for someone who isn't a massive star but solid and too expensive for his team (IE: someone in arbitration years with KC, Oakland, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Colorado or who signed a too big contract with one of them) thus cheap to acquire. Then if any kids earn LF or 2B they can take it over, same for 3B. Part of why I like Urshela - he can be moved anywhere depending on who is doing well/not doing well without being an embarrassment with the bat or glove. Then if Manoah is making them nervous (poor offseason routine) they can sign whichever decent starter is still on the market, if Manoah is doing well though we could have a killer rotation in 2024.
John Northey - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 07:12 PM EST (#440241) #
The HOF vote will be out soon. Like most here I'd love Cito to get in but bet against it.

Lets do a comparison...

Cito Gaston - 894-837 4 playoff appearances, 2 WS title - 18-16 playoff record
Lou Pinella - 1835-1713 7 playoff appearances, 1 WS title - 23-27 playoff record
Jim Leyland - 1769-1728 8 playoff appearances, 1 WS title - 44-40 playoff record
Davey Johnson - 1372-1071 6 playoff appearances, 1 WS title - 25-26 playoff record

The other 3 all had much longer careers but were they much better? W-L record in the extra games
LP vs CG: 941-876 (84 win season equivalent) 3 extra playoff appearances, 5-11 playoffs
JL vs CG: 875-891 (80 win equivalent) 4 extra playoff appearances, 26-24 playoffs
DJ vs CG: 478-234 (109 win equivalent) 2 extra playoff appearances, 7-10 playoffs

Looking at the stats the only one I would be OK with getting in over Cito is Davey Johnson. His #1 problem was pissing off ownership quickly. He nearly ran the Jays in 1998 but Ash picked a different Johnson and the rest is ugly history. Gillick famously wanted Pinella over Cito in 1989 but the Yankees wouldn't let the Jays negotiate with him despite Pinella being on a personal services contract only at the time (basically kept around as a backup manager).

Many said anyone could've won with the 92/93 Jays but Pinella had future HOF'ers Griffey Jr, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Ichiro (not all at the same time) in their primes (plus in 2001 ex-Jays Olerud, Borders, Sprague) and won only two playoff rounds over a 10 year stretch, never getting to the World Series. Basically he was like Schneider - great talent to work with but couldn't get them to do anything in the post-season. Heck, with Griffey, Martinez, and Johnson he finished sub 500 twice.

Leyland couldn't win a playoff round with Barry Bonds, Johnson somehow only made the playoffs twice with a killer NYM team in the 80's (trust me, at the time everyone thought they'd win it all every year - that seemed like a monster team at the time).

Winning with a talented team isn't as easy as some think. Gaston deserves a TON of credit for knowing how to manager personalities and to make it work. Once Gillick left Ash destroyed the team on him with tons of horrid choices. For some bizarre reason no one else would hire him and he only got one more shot with the Jays and nearly pushed them to the playoffs again, but no luck. Manager of the Year voters were not fans of his (they love managers of overachieving teams vs pre-season predictions).
bpoz - Sunday, December 03 2023 @ 07:39 PM EST (#440243) #
Thanks for the history John N.
Reviewing MLBTR's Top 50 2023 MLB Free Agents | 213 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.