Another bench spot opened up with the Jays as Fred Lewis was not tendered a contract by the Jays before last night’s deadline and officially became a FA as a result. It’s still a possibility that the Jays will bring him back on board if he accepts a smaller role and being a 4th oufielder, but it’s more likely that he’ll ask for more playing time than the Jays can assure him and move on to another team. The Jays may look for another bench OF option unless they complete a deal for a 3B from another club which would put Jose Bautista back into the RF position. As it stands today, however, the Jays will be rolling out a Rajai Davis, Vernon Wells, and Travis Snider outfield to begin the 2011 season. There are numerous internal candidates for the bench/4th outfield position including Darin Mastroianni, Eric Thames, and Adam Loewen, all of which played in AA last season.
Not surprisingly, the Jays non-tendered Jeremy Accardo a season after they convinced to sign a 1 year deal worth just over $1 million to avoid arbitration in 2010. He was predictably angry about remaining in the minors for most of 2010 and will almost definitely look to sign a major league only deal elsewhere this off season if he can find one. At only 29 and after a season where he saved 24 games in AAA for Las Vegas, while holding a decent 3.48 ERA but ugly 1.523 whip through 44 innings pitched, it seems like Jeremy may be able to convince a team to take a shot. It may take a while for him to find a home with so many options out there in FA, but I’d be surprised if he winds up in AAA again in 2011.
Jeremy’s best season for the Jays came at the same time as the BJ Ryan implosion in 2007 at 25 years old, when he saved 30 games for the Jays with a miniscule 2.14 ERA and 1.114 whip. I’m not certain what happened from that point on, but it seems like the relegation to a “simple reliever” instead of a closer really dampened his mood and he wound up spending the majority of the years thereafter in the minors. I would not be surprised if he lands a prominent spot and regains that closer’s role elsewhere, as he does have the stuff to do so if he can put it all together between the ears.
The loss of Jeremy in the pen depth department makes it thinner than it already was with recent losses to FA and tells us that the Jays have to be confident about their chances to land FAs or complete trades to strengthen their pen. I certainly hope they do land the big fish, Matt Guerrier, and can add at least one other veteran to solidify the depth.
Other Jays notes:
Arbitration eligible Jays to be sorted out include the following: Jose Bautista, OF; Shawn Camp, RHP; Yunel Escobar, SS; Casey Janssen, RHP; Rajai Davis, OF; Jesse Litsch, RHP; Shaun Marcum, RHP; Brandon Morrow, RHP; Jason Frasor, RHP. All of these are important pieces the Jays need to sort out before too long and it will be interesting to see what kind of aggreements are made with Bautista and Escobar in particular. With the Jays extending Ricky Romero last season, you have to believe that they may be ready to do the same with either Shaun Marcum or Brandon Morrow. My bet is that Morrow will see a multi year offer after having his breakthrough season as a starter in 2010. If he has a huge 2011, as I suspect he might, he could wind up costing the Jays a lot more than an extension may cost them this season.
Gregor Chisolm of MLB.com and North of the Border noted in a recent article that the Jays are one of the few teams that don’t operate with a concrete budget in place. However, I do believe that their track record can be monitored to get a feel for what sort of salaries are feasible options for the squad. I don’t believe the Jays want to exceed 90 million if they can help it, and the result to that aspect of the game is the cheaper “youth movement” alternative that Alex Anthpolous has put in place. Having said that, the fact that the Jays were willing to make moves for players that were close to getting substantial raises – Justin Upton and Dan Uggla – lets us believe that they are in fact on the hunt for high-impact players on teams that can’t – or don’t want to – afford them. This is the reason I see the Jays as major players for the services of Prince Fielder in the near future, something I will reitterate in a post due to go up today.