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If the Jays have the budget to sign just one expensive free agent who should it be?

Trevor Bauer 26 (29.89%)
JT Realmuto 12 (13.79%)
DJ LeMahieu 4 (4.60%)
George Springer 45 (51.72%)
If the Jays have the budget to sign just one expensive free agent who should it be? | 28 comments | Create New Account
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greenfrog - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 08:56 AM EST (#392738) #
Thanks for accepting my poll idea.

Here are a few reasons I voted for Realmuto:

- His age (he's 29)

- He's an up-the-middle player with good defensive skills

- He's a premium player (worth roughly 5 WAR a year)

- There is value to having excellent depth at catcher, a position where there is normally a lot of attrition. The Jays could use Jansen as a solid #2 in 2021. The team's depth (Realmuto, Jansen, Kirk, Moreno, Mesia, McGuire) would eventually sort itself out, through trades or otherwise

- In the tough AL East, it's good to have a powerhouse lineup. Realmuto would make a good lineup even better

I like Bauer as well but I think Realmuto would be a better overall addition to the team. Springer has been an excellent player but I expect him to start to decline as he gets further into his 30s (also, how much of his stellar 2019 performance was due to the Astros' cheating that year?).
Mike Green - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 10:00 AM EST (#392739) #
I'm not really excited about any of them at the prices that I think they are going to get.  I think that they're 3-4 WAR players now, with decline and inconsistency likely to follow, and I don't see that the market is as soft as projected earlier. 

When the Yankees signed LeMahieu two years ago, I said "great bargain". The median crowdsource for LeMahieu at fangraphs is 3 X $14 million.  He would be good value at that, but I think he'll do better.  The median crowdsource for Springer and Realmuto is 5-6 X $23M, and I'd pass on both of them at that dollar figure, and again, they might do better than that.
greenfrog - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 10:13 AM EST (#392743) #
Valid point about cost, but focusing on on-field value alone, it's worth noting that in his last few seasons Realmuto has been worth:

2017: 4.4 WAR
2018: 4.9 WAR
2019: 5.7 WAR
2020: 1.7 WAR (5.9 WAR pace)

Average: 5.2 WAR

And that's assuming his value to a team as a catcher is fully captured by WAR.

Even assuming he declines to an average of 4 WAR/season over the next couple of years, that would still make him one of the top few catchers in the game in those seasons.
greenfrog - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 10:20 AM EST (#392744) #
Sorry, that 2020 projected WAR figure is a bit high. Assuming he would have played 140 games in a normal 2020 (as opposed to 162 games), he would have posted about 5.1 WAR. And his average WAR for the last four years would have been 5 WAR, not 5.2 WAR.
Glevin - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 10:31 AM EST (#392745) #
I'd be happy with Springer and OK Realmuto if it's a short contract. Springer is a more direct fit but Realmuto would allow Jays to trade from strength. C decline is tricky and often very fast after 30. Realmuto's most similar hitter on BR is Lucroy who was done at 32. (And Lucroy isn't an outlier. Look at Posey for example as a top catcher, better than Realmuto. 6.5-10 WAR every year and now in decline for years. 2.3 WAR last full season). I'd trust Springer to have some decent value at 36 as say a corner OFer more than I would Realmuto at 34. I actually also think catching is overrrated by WAR because I think in general WAR overrated defense and catcher defense is even harder to define that other defenses. (And replacement excellent defensive catchers aren't really that hard to find. Tyler Flowers is supposedly the #5 defensive player in all of baseball in the past 2 years. I doubt he gets more than a small contract)
greenfrog - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 12:18 PM EST (#392749) #
Another nice thing about Realmuto is that he had a low-mileage year in 2020 (47 games).

It's a good point about rates of decline among catchers. I guess you hope that you get a few excellent years in his early 30s (say, 4.5 WAR, 4 WAR, 3.5 WAR) and then a couple of decline years, a la Russell Martin. And Realmuto is two years younger than Martin was when the Jays signed him.

In any event, I would be fine with Mike Green's suggestion of adding the trio of JBJ/Sugano/Kim as an arguably better-value alternative to one big expensive splash on the FA market.
hypobole - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 12:52 PM EST (#392750) #
When are robo umps going to installed in major league stadiums? Because once they are, framing will be worthless. Good framing catchers will lose value. Poor framers gain value, maybe quite a bit of value, relative to their peers.
scottt - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 02:17 PM EST (#392753) #
Lemahieu is looking for 5/100M. The Yankees are reported to have offered 4/75M.

Both Springer are in the 4 to 5 year, 100M+ range. I'd be surprised if anyone goes 6 years on any of them.

scottt - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 02:32 PM EST (#392754) #
A good defensive catcher who can't hit is not worth much.
Neither is a good offensive catcher who can't catch. Look at Sanchez.
Stealing strikes is a weird skill to track. To me, it's more on the umps than on the catcher.
However, Realmuto is not just good at framing. He might help pitchers and our rookie catchers as well.

Heck, you can probably sign him on a long contract and trade him after one year if anyone breaks through.
Russell Martin was a huge success even though he was never worth more than 3.2 WAR.
He was still an All-Star at 3.2WAR and managed 2WAR at 33. He was done at 34 because he couldn't stay healthy.
Which will be less an issue with all the prospects. I'd be totally fine with 4 or 5 years ending at 34.

scottt - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 02:37 PM EST (#392755) #
Once you stop framing, it's a lot easier to block balls.
Throwing runners only gets a little easier because you don't have to receive the strike before you throw. 
All in all, it will advantage offensive catchers, but it could be years away.

Michael - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 04:42 PM EST (#392757) #
I voted Bauer because premium pitching is hard to find but I haven't looked deep at the players involved, but really I reject the premise of the questions for a few reasons:

1. The Jays can afford to sign more than one player.

2. The "best" one to sign has to be evaluated in terms of contract. If any of these were to sign for $5M/year for 5 years they'd be a much better choice than the others. If any of these were to sign for $50M/year for 5 years they'd be a much worse choice than the others. You can't really evaluate the quality of the choice without also considering the contract.

3. All of these players would make the team better, and we don't know that all of these players are willing to play for the team (or what their contracts would be to do so). So if the team signs someone we think was not the top choice, and doesn't sign who would have been our top choice, we can't really tell if our top choice was available to be signed (or available to be signed for that price).
scottt - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 06:33 PM EST (#392759) #
1. I hope so, because they already signed Ray. If they sign Bauer that's probably it, though. He's going to cost over 30M.

2. Take EE. He rejected 4/80M to sign for 3/60M plus an option. That's the kind of deal the Jays might find here. Bauer will cost about 35M per year, Realmuto and Springer around 25M and LeMahieu around 20M. Nobody should get more than 5 years. The Jays are not known for these big contracts but they just spent 4/80M on Ryu and struck gold.

3. The Jays are seen as young contenders with a large window in front of them. Apart from Bauer, this is the only shot these guys will have at a big contract. Springer wants to be closer to the East Coast, Realmuto is from Oklahoma, LeMahieu is a California guy, but I don't think it wants back there. Bauer, of course, is taunting all fans on Twitter, including Jays fans.

John Northey - Monday, December 14 2020 @ 07:43 PM EST (#392762) #
To me it is Bauer - #1 starting pitchers are hard to get, even harder to keep.

Springer is a 'nice to have' as he'd improve the team, but mostly with more offense to go with middle of the road defense in CF.
Realmuto lands under the 'nice but' with the but being that we have 3 young catchers more or less ready for prime time already. I'd be on the lookout for a bargain on him as most contenders seem happy with their catching situation.
LeMahieu if he is willing to go to 3B would be a good upgrade from putting Vlad there (ugh), but at 2B he'd force a shift for Biggio which I'd rather not see.

I see Bauer as the hardest to find an adequate alternative to. I really want the Jays to grab Kim from Korea if their scouts think he is for real (and all reports are that he is) as he could cover 3B and I think the OF situation will clear itself up given time.
scottt - Tuesday, December 15 2020 @ 08:38 AM EST (#392773) #
LeMahieu can play 1B, 2B, 3B and some outfield. He's got 3 gold gloves.
Defensively, it's not ideal.
Kim can play 2B, 3B and SS but how good is the bat at the MLB level?
Offensively, it's more risky.

Sugano is interesting.

SK in NJ - Tuesday, December 15 2020 @ 04:44 PM EST (#392789) #
Out of those four my order of preference would be Bauer, Springer, LeMahieu, and Realmuto. I don't think Bauer would sign here, but a front of the rotation SP is very difficult to find, so he would be a great add to the rotation. Beyond him, I think Springer is the best positional fit, and LeMahieu's versatility is very intriguing. Of the two I'd likely go Springer since he can play CF for a few years and the Jays desperately need that. Realmuto might be the most realistic out of the options since his market will likely shrink with the Mets getting a catcher elsewhere, but not a fan of signing a 30 year old catcher. It made sense with Martin since that was an organizational weakness at the time and the team's window was relatively small (Bautista/Edwin each had two years of control left), but the Jays have essentially a five year window with this group, have a lot of catching depth, and their best seasons as a team are probably coming towards the back end of that window. I don't know if JT ages well enough to justify that long of a contract, while I think Springer may transition into an average or better RF as he ages and LeMahieu's offensive skillset seems like it will age more gracefully.

Ultimately, I think I like the Kim/Sugano/JBJ idea floated around here. It is risky and not the sexiest option from a marketing standpoint, but seems like a perfect mix of realistic + potential value.
greenfrog - Tuesday, December 15 2020 @ 07:48 PM EST (#392791) #
Here is one top 50 free agents list (Fangraphs):

https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2021-top-50-free-agents/

They have Realmuto at #1:

“The Phillies catcher did little to hurt his value in the shortened 2020 season, and with Mookie Betts signing an extension in Los Angeles, he’s clearly the best free agent available. The Phillies could certainly benefit from bringing him back, but he shouldn’t lack for suitors, with a few NL East rivals and maybe the Yankees potentially in the mix with big budgets and a need or want at catcher.

Player Notes
The primary characteristics of Realmuto’s career thus far are that he’s good at everything and that he’s still finding ways to get better. Without lingering too long on his 2020 statline, we’d be remiss not to mention career highs in BB%, ISO, OBP, slugging, and exit velocity. Defensively, there are no holes in his game. He’s a great framer, and if the league suddenly yanks that carpet from beneath his feet, oh well, he’s still a fantastic blocker and a base runner’s worst nightmare. Even at 30, teams should be lining up to sign the cornerstone free agent on the market. He may never fully get his due as one of the game’s premier players; hopefully the nine-figure contract coming his way can ease the sting. – BG”
scottt - Tuesday, December 15 2020 @ 09:18 PM EST (#392793) #
Actually, no. The Jays still had Navarro signed for 2015 and neither him nor Martin was really comfortable catching Dickie and the Jays didn't want to have 3 catchers on the 25.

Navarro was the 6th best Jay by WAR in 2014 with 2.5bWAR.
2B was the real weakness back then. And 3B which they solved with Donaldson.  And 1B since EE was going to be moved to DH because Lind was traded for a long relief guy who became a starter because a starter was traded to fill LF as Melky was up and not coming back.  But Saunders got hurt and LF became a weakness as well.

So, in 2015, the need was second base and first base and left field became a problem later and they got a catcher.
Was Martin the best catcher in baseball in 2015? No, that was Buster Posey, who was ahead of Martin by 3 WAR.
For some reason, Navarro was not traded and only got 192 PAs. He had 520 in 2014 and 334 in 2016 and he was done at 32.

Martin was an amazing marketing move by Rogers, because in Quebec, the sports news did not follow the Jays, they followed Martin which mean you'd hear the results of the Yankees or Pirates games on the French channels.

Realmuto on 4 years would be quite amazing. The Jays would still have prospects to back him off even if they trade 2 catchers. Martin was not interested in mentoring. I don't know about Realmuto. I don't think it matters. You'd have a vet talking to both position players and pitchers.

SK in NJ - Tuesday, December 15 2020 @ 10:01 PM EST (#392794) #
Navarro was an awful defensive catcher and framer. One of the worst in the league if I recall. He was worth a -0.6 WAR in 2014 after framing was factored into fWAR. The backup to Navarro, due to Dickey's presence, was Thole. It goes without saying that catcher was a huge need for the Jays after 2014. Going from Navarro to Martin was basically a 5 win improvement, and there was no prospect depth behind Martin for years at that position.

Realmuto would be an improvement, but it's not a pressing need. If he doesn't improve at all, then Jansen is still probably a 1-2 WAR player (.339 xwOBA in 2020), and he has legit prospects behind him. It's not a need. Now, there could certainly be a price point where signing Realmuto and trading Jansen might make sense, but JT's rumored asking price would have to drop significantly.
scottt - Wednesday, December 16 2020 @ 10:29 AM EST (#392795) #
Navarro was worth 2.5  bWAR in 2014.
Martin was worth 3.2 bwAR in 2015.
That's an improvement of less than 1 win.

Jansen was worth 0.6 bWAR in 2020. That's 1.6 WAR over a full season.
Realmuto was worth 1.4 bWAR in 2020. That's 3.8 WAR over a full season.

So better than a 2 win improvement.

Martin was much better in Pittsburgh, just finishing a 5+ WAR season in 2014.
However, he had to catch Dickie in Toronto which made him look bad. It was literally a painful experience.

Framing is subjective.
Let's look at the pitchers in 2014 and 2015:
Dickie  ERA+ 102 and 105
Buehrle ERA+ 112 and 108
Hutchison ERA+ 85 and 74

Loup ERA+ 121 and 92
Cecil ERA+ 141 and 166

If the framing was better, the pitching became worse to compensate somehow.

Martin was a great marketing deal.
Even my mother who does not speak English started following the Blue Jays.
However, the Jays paid over market to get him and he regressed quickly.
Arguably, the money would have been better spent in real areas of need and on a younger catcher.

This time, the Jays have 5 young catchers so the risk is much lower.
Maybe Jansen will hit, maybe he won't.
Realmuto is a good fit if the Jays don't have to go 5 years.
Part of the that is getting something for Jansen.
The Jays got nothing for Navarro who became the backup and they traded back for him at the deadline the following year.



SK in NJ - Wednesday, December 16 2020 @ 12:52 PM EST (#392796) #
I wouldn't look at bWAR for hitters. Navarro was an ok hitting catcher in 2014 with bottom of the barrel defense. There is no objective way he was a near 3 win player that year, much less only a 1 win drop from Martin's 2015 season (where he had a 115 wRC+ to go along with great defense/framing). Martin was consistently a great framing catcher, so his value was actually undersold by fWAR until they started factoring it into their formula. Martin was needed and a big upgrade at catcher in 2015. He definitely declined by the back end of that contract, as one would have expected, but the front end was very good and luckily Jansen was ready by the time Martin was in the final year of his deal.

If the Jays catching situation today was the equivalent to what it was before Martin signed in 2014, then Realmuto would be #1 on my priority list right now.
johnny was - Wednesday, December 16 2020 @ 09:22 PM EST (#392798) #
I'll grant that 2018 and 2020 Bauer was certainly a $30 mil/year player and he's provided good value in his "off" years in '15, '16, and '19 thanks to a great health track record, but there's so much risk involved with investing everything in one superstar and this move wouldn't really jive with what the front office has said about pursuing a basket of 2-4 good to very good players.

Kim and Sugano seems more appealing to me than any other combo for cost and upside. Realmuto is my favourite available player and I'd love to add him, but it just doesn't make the most sense given the team's depth at catcher.

Nice bounce back for him in 2020, but would JBJ provide really much more value than Jonathan Davis given equal playing time in 2021? Not really seeing a good solution in CF. I'm all for an unpredictable move here like trading something shiny for Ramon Laureano.


Mike Green - Thursday, December 17 2020 @ 08:45 AM EST (#392802) #
Nice bounce back for him in 2020, but would JBJ provide really much more value than Jonathan Davis given equal playing time in 2021?

Two points. First. I like Jonathan Davis a lot, but even the most optimistic projection for him is as less than a 1.5 WAR player in full-time use and the less optimistic projection is a .5 WAR player.  This is the kind of player you want as a 4th outfielder.  Second.  It's not really an either/or proposition.  JBJ bats left and while he only has a modest platoon split, he hasn't had 600 PAs in a year for many years.  He would project as a 2.5 WAR player in full-time use. 

To sum up, it's valuable to have two players who can handle centerfield effectively and particularly good on a club that lists right to have one of them bat left. 

By the way, Statcast says that JBJ was severely unlucky in 2019 and extremely lucky in 2020.  You can safely project him to be just under league average as a hitter, to be an above-average baserunner and to be a very good defensive centerfielder.  That's a fine player. 
John Northey - Thursday, December 17 2020 @ 04:00 PM EST (#392809) #
The more I read the more I like the idea of the Jays going for Kim and Sugano and JBJ. Trade an outfielder currently on the team for more pitching, put Kim at 3B, platoon JBJ and Davis in CF more or less. You'd have a more flexible team, mostly young thanks to Kim, and no one player eating $30 mil a year yet. Those 3 should be gettable for $40 mil a year or less.
greenfrog - Friday, December 18 2020 @ 04:06 PM EST (#392817) #
Came across this in today’s Keith Law chat:

“Canadian person
2:49 Would signing Realmuto, and then trading from their catching depth to address other areas be a good plan a for the Jays?

Keith Law
2:49 Yes, absolutely. I know a lot of fans would be bummed to see Kirk go, and there's a chance he ends up some kind of outlier star, but there's a lot of risk there given his build.”
rpriske - Monday, December 21 2020 @ 08:53 AM EST (#392845) #
1st choice - Bauer

2nd choice - Springer

3rd choice - LeMahieu

No way - Realmuto
Lylemcr - Thursday, January 07 2021 @ 02:41 PM EST (#393153) #
Bauer. Assuming it is a 5 year deal. You don't win in this league without pitching. The Jays need more pitching and you can never have too much pitching IMO.

That being said, 5 year max. Lately, pitchers seem to burn out fast nowadays.

Second, is Springer. The Jays OF is so... average...

electric carrot - Friday, January 08 2021 @ 10:28 PM EST (#393198) #
I voted Bauer. I think pitching is our biggest need. Also, while I think Springer and Realmuto and even LeMahieu make us better -- the difference between who Bauer replaces (#5 starter) and the differential there vs the differential between who Springer/Realmuto/LeMahieu replace just doesn't excite me as much. Bauer is the biggest difference-maker.
damos - Friday, January 15 2021 @ 01:12 PM EST (#393343) #
I'm just hoping that plugged in writers that cover the Mets are right. Guys like Dicomo & Martino keep saying the Mets won't exceed the luxury tax this year...that they want to keep 5-10 million set aside for in season improvements. They've got an awful lot to consider - are they extending Lindor? What are they going to do with home grown talent like Conforto? Then there's Thor & Stroman....Cano's big money comes back on the books next year. Are they going to win the bidding for Brad Hand? Lindor could be their face of the franchise if they lock him up, so are they going to dole out another massive contract when they've got so many other roster questions? Guess we'll soon see.
If the Jays have the budget to sign just one expensive free agent who should it be? | 28 comments | Create New Account
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