Jays FA Targets Next Offseason

For anyone who wants a continuously updated list of 2011 FAs, MLBTR provides the best source of information here. For Jays fans who want to know how much money the Jays have to work with from here on out, Cot’s Baseball Contracts provides excellent tables that show commitments for the next 5 years here. As you can see within their table, the Jays only have $33.17 million committed in 2011, but you have to add in the small raises that arbitration eligible players will get to that amount. In order to get the best estimate of the budget Alex Anthopoulos will have to work with in the 2010-2011 off season, we have no choice but to make some key assumptions in terms of personnel who the Jays will retain and have on board at that time. Here are the assumptions I am ready to make as of today:

  1. Both Jason Frasor and Scott Downs will either be traded or will not be re-signed for 2011.
  2. The Kevin Gregg acquisition will go through and that he’ll be retained at an approximate cost of 4.75 million in 2011.
  3. Jeremy Accardo will take over the set up role and will do well, and will cost the Jays 2.75 million as a result (the same salary that Jason Frasor got in his final year of arbitration due to good performance)
  4. Shaun Marcum and Casey Janssen will be retained without going to arbitration at a cost of 1.15 million and 900K respectively.
  5. The Jays will not exercise the option for Alex Gonzalez.
  6. The Jays will not sign Edwin Encarnacion who already costs them 5.175 million in 2010 and has 1 more arbitration year that could push his salary over 6 million.
  7. The Jays will trade Lyle Overbay or let him go at season’s end.
  8. Jose Bautista will be retained once again as a bench player, and will cost the Jays 3 million to re-sign in his final year of arbitration.
  9. John Buck will do well and will be retained to split time with J. P. Arencibia at a cost of 2.8 million for 1 season.
  10. Brian Tallet will be let go or traded during the season, while Shawn Camp will be re-signed at a cost of 2 million in his final arbitration year.
  11. Dustin McGowan, only in his second arbitration eligible year, will get a 250,000 raise to .75 million.
  12. Brandon Morrow, Jesse Carlson, and Jesse Litsch, in their first year of arbitration, will all be signed for 600,000 each.
  13. Adam Lind, also eligible for arbitration for the first time, will get a raise to 1,500,000.
  14. Merkin Valdez will make the pen and will make approximately 500,000 in 2011.
  15. For the remainder, we’ll make it the minimum at 450,000.

I know that the list above is a lot of assumptions, but they’re approximately accurate enough for us to get a decent idea of what Alex will have to work with during the next off season, which is about $56,890,000 committed to players listed above, as well as for Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill who are the only 2 players set to make more than 5 million in 2011.

The decisions made above leave the Jays with holes at the following positions: 1B, 3B, SS, and RP. The Jays can very easily fill the holes at 1B and RP internally, with Brett Wallace taking over 1B duties full time in 2011 and the Jays have an excellent bunch of RP ready to make the jump in 2011 with Danny Farquhar and Tim Collins.  So that leaves us with glaring holes at 3B and SS.

The 2011 FAs, as listed today on MLBTR, for those positions are as follows:

3B:  Garrett Atkins (31) – $8.5MM club option with a $500K buyout, Adrian Beltre (32) – $5MM player option with a $1MM buyout and option reaches $10MM with 640 PAs in 2010, Wilson Betemit (29), Geoff Blum (38) – $1.65MM mutual option, Jorge Cantu (29), Eric Chavez (33) – $12.5MM club option with a $3MM buyout, Craig Counsell (40), Pedro Feliz (36), Jerry Hairston Jr. (35), Bill Hall (31) – $9.25MM club option with a $500K buyout, Wes Helms (35), Brandon Inge (34), Mike Lowell (37), Melvin Mora (39), Jhonny Peralta (29) – $7MM club option with a $250K buyout, Aramis Ramirez (33) – $14.6MM player option, Miguel Tejada (37), Juan Uribe (31), Ty Wigginton (33).

Alex will find it tough to sift through these oldies and get real long-term value. He does have 3 decent options in Jorge Cantu, Johnny Perralta, and Aramis Ramirez, but the latter two are likely to re-sign with their teams, leaving only Jorge Cantu for all of MLB to bid on. That makes Jorge Cantu FA signing candidate priority #1. (if he doesn’t sign an extension before FA opens).

If you thought 3B options were limited, take a peak at this bunch to fill the glaring hole at SS:

SS: Alfredo Amezaga (33), Orlando Cabrera (36) – $3MM option with a $1MM buyout, Juan Castro (39), Alex Cora (35) $2MM option vests with 80 starts, Craig Counsell (40), Bobby Crosby (31),  Adam Everett (34), Alex Gonzalez (33) - $2.5MM club option, Khalil Greene (31), Cristian Guzman (33), Jerry Hairston Jr. (35), Cesar Izturis (31), Derek Jeter (37), Julio Lugo (35), Jhonny Peralta (29) – $7MM club option with a $250K buyout, Nick Punto (33) – $5MM club option with a $500K buyout, Edgar Renteria (35) – $10.5MM club option with a $500K buyout, Jose Reyes (28) – $11MM club option with a $500K buyout, Miguel Tejada (37), Juan Uribe (31), Ramon Vazquez (34), Omar Vizquel (44).

For those of us dreaming of a healthy Jose Reyes in Toronto, we can all shake our heads as neither is likely to happen. Derek Jeter will forever be a Yankee, and even Miguel Tejada, Johnny Perralta, and Nick Punto are likely to re-sign with their present clubs and wouldn’t be long-term options anyhow. This leaves only the guy I stated above should be let go, Alex Gonzalez, and Edgar Renteria as decent options, but neither one is  a long term option or an offensive impact player. The most likely SS of the list above to be signed if Alex doesn’t trade for an MLB ready SS prospect is either Cristian Guzman, or Bobby Crosby if he can turn it around this season with the Pirates. Chances are the Jays would rather keep Alex Gonzalez and his excellent D instead of signing Guzman, so I’ll retract my thinking above and say the Jays will pick up Alex’s $2.5 million option.

What would adding Jorge Cantu (3B) cost in terms of money? Well, he’s set to make $6 million in 2010, so a raise of $2-3 million is likely if he plays as well as is expected, especially when you consider the 3B market. Let’s say he costs the Jays $9 million, or $18 million over 2 years. This, along with adding the $2.5 million to be paid to Gonzalez, would push the committed amount for the Jays in 2011 up to $68,390,000 and would feasibly leave Alex with around $21 million left to spend if the Jays set a budget amount of $90,000,000.

There are some very interesting starting pitchers that will be FAs in 2011, such as: Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Webb. Any of these guys, assuming they are healthy at that time, would solidify the rotation immensely and could help make the Jays into real contenders in 2011. Let’s say the Jays are able to land one of these 3 guys and do call up Kyle Drabek to take a role within the rotation, it would provide them with some real top-notch talent that could push them to a new level. Therefore, I say that Alex will spend his money on finding a 3B like Jorge Cantu in the 2011 FA market, unless he trades for one before then, and also in the SP market. Look for him to find a long term SS option through trade and for a high-end prospect instead of waiting for the FA market at the position to open.

Whatever happens between now and then will definitely impact his analysis and I still believe Alex could wind up trading for a Dan Uggla or other player that would change the 2011 FA focus. But one thing is certain from this point forward, the Jays will have anywhere from $25 million to $35 million to spend on FAs depending on where they set their budget. It should be fun to see how Alex spends that amount – or whether he decides to trade for lesser cost players instead.

Topics: Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Alex Gonzalez, Brandon Morrow, Brett Wallace, Casey Janssen, Daniel Farquhar, Dustin McGowan, Edwin Encarnacion, Jason Frasor, Jesse Carlson, Jesse Litsch, John Buck, JP Arencibia, Kevin Gregg, Lyle Overbay, Merkin Valdez, Scott Downs, Shaun Marcum, Tim Collins, Vernon Wells

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  • Dee Knee Cola

    Great breakdown – much appreciated!

  • Scotty D

    Hey Matt,

    2 things:

    1. I know that I’m in the minority, but I think Edwin Encarnacion can bounce back next year. He’s a much better career hitter than last season showed, and that can be blamed on injuries. Also, I really noticed an improvement in his defence last season towards the end of the year. His range is good, and Butterfield can work out the kinks in his throwing.

    2. I agree with you that a long term SS has to come from a trade. Since the best FAs after this year are pitchers, and we seem to have a tonne of young guys, I really think we’ll be able to fill that hole. I know we’re all really excited about Castro from the Cubs, but since he’s such a blue-chip and the Cubs likely won’t trade him, where else could be a fit? or do we draft a bunch of SS in this year’s draft and rush them through the system?

  • SPK

    im one who agrees on Encarnacion. i dont think we have seen the best from him yet and i could see him surprising in 2010.

    im sorry to say but if Jorge Cantu is the number one priority this Jays team isnt going to have much of a future. Cantu is a filler, someone you settle on. id rather pay Encarnacion what he is going to get than spend more on Cantu.
    the Jays are going to have plenty of money to spend going forward. if AA sees Lind as the DH of the future LF could be a great spot to put free agent Carl Crawford and have him become the leadoff hitter of the future. its going to cost, but whatever the price is it is going to be well worth it to have him at the top of the lineup.

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  • Jays Daze

    To Scotty D, SPK and I’m sure many others who feel the same way:

    In no way am I discounting the fact that Edwin can bounce back to form, but in no way will he ever be as consistent as Jorge Cantu has been at the plate in driving in runs, getting clutch hits, and in versatility within the infield. I have a feeling that Cantu is just under valued by many people despite 2 VERY strong years in ’08 and ’09 and another one earlier in his 20s.

    To give the best comparison, I’ll compare their 2008 seasons, Edwin’s best by far:
    Edwin: 506 AB/.251 AVG/29 doubles/.340 OPB/.466 SLG/.807 OPS 26 HRs and 68 RBI and a .930 fielding %
    Jorge: 628 AB/.277 AVG/41 doubles/.327 OBP/.481 SLG/.874 OPS 29 HRs and 95 RBI and a .937 fielding %

    They are both very comparable, except for the fact that Jorge hits for better average, has a better slugging % and OPS overall (each season and career wise thus far). I would agree that Edwin has more power potential overall, so I give him the edge there, if he gets the right amount of ABs, that is. but here’s the kicker.

    In 2008, they both hit LHP very well (Jorge = .293 AVg and 8 HRs in 167 AB, Edwin .292 AVG and 7 HRs in 144 ABS) However, Edwin becomes a major liability against RHP (Edwin = .235 AVG, .315 OBP, .450 SLG in 362 AB, Jorge = .272 AVG, .317 OBP, .472 SLG) and that was just ’08, in ’09 vs RHP (Edwin = .219 AVG, .312 OBP, .395 SLG, .707 OPS – which is getting a lot worse, versus Jorge = .278 AVG, .331 OBP, .423 SLG, .754 OPS – which is getting better over time). That’s the major reason I want Jorge over Edwin – he can hit RHP a TON better than Edwin ever will. Edwin, to me, is a platoon player. Put him in versus LHP and off the bench to pinch hit. Jorge, on the other hand, is an every day player that can hit for LHP and RHP pitching and can play 3 positions (1B, 2B, and 3B) if need be. That’s why I’d rather see Alex sign Jorge at 9 million than keep Edwin at 6-7 million.

    Hope that clears it up in terms of my interpretation. It’s just an opinion though, nothing more.

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