The LA Angels have signed free agent reliever Scott Downs to a 3-year $15m contract pending a physical. The deal includes an incentive worth $1m which is based on the amount of games Downs closes.
This is the worst scenario possible for the Toronto Blue Jays in terms of compensation for Scott Downs being a type A FA.
Well, first and foremost, the Jays automatically get a 2nd rd, not a 1st rd, draft pick from the Angels because their 1st rd pick is protected. It’s protected because they were one of the bottom 15 teams last season. This already lowers the pick by quite a large margin – by at least 45 picks (you’ll notice that the Angels actually pick 17th in the 1st rd, but that’s due to compensation to other teams for not signing draft picks, they’ll pick in the 14th position in the 2nd rd). That means that the Jays have to wait through the remaining 16 picks of the 1st rd, the entire sandwich pick rd, and then another 13 picks before making their compensatory selection.
But wait, it gets worst.
The Angels are also rumored to be after both 3B Adrian Beltre (81.633) and Closer Rafael Soriano (91.799). Both are Type A FAs that are ranked ahead of Downs (76.352), meaning that each signing of these 2 players would push the Jays down by a substantial number of picks. If the Angels sign one, the Jays get a 3rd rd pick, which also means they have to sit through the 2nd sandwich rd as well as the end of the 2nd rd and the beginning of the 3rd rd. If they do sign both, then the Jays get a 4th rd pick.
Talk about getting lower value than was expected for a reliever that has the quality of Scott Downs. The Jays may luck out and have the Angels hold back from signing any other FAs. That would leave the Jays with a high pick, but I wouldn’t bet anything on that hope. The Angels have money and lots of holes to fill. Sitting around doesn’t seem to be in their future plans.
At least one thing is guaranteed, the Jays will get a 1st rd sandwich pick in return for Downs.
There are some who believe that Downs will get a chance to close occasionally as Fernando Rodney and Downs are the biggest pieces at the back of the pen. That would point to the reason for the Angels including incentives based on closed games.
The impact or after math of the Downs signing.
Immediately after the Downs signing was announced by Peter Gammons, it was also reported that the Red Sox had made an offer to RP Matt Guerrier. With Downs off the board, Guerrier becomes one of the best back end of the pen options. The Red Sox certainly want to strengthen their pen and it had been rumored that they were aggressively pursuing Downs as a result. Since the Jays are also interested in Guerrier, this means that his price will probably go up slightly, particularly when Downs got such a friendly 3-year deal.
Scott Downs, for those who don’t know, has roots that date back to Montreal when he pitched for the Expos. In fact, Downs has been pitching in Canada since the year 2000. With Canadian weather being what it is in April-May it’s not surprising that Downs chose to head for the warmer Californian coast.
Downs leaves the Jays with the following career line while playing 6 seasons in Toronto:
20 wins – 18 losses/ 16 saves/ 3.13 ERA/ 347 G/ 16 GS/ 407.2 IP/ 360 Hits/ 142 BB/ 341 SO/ 1.231 Whip
To say that he was a very valuable piece of the pen while in Toronto would be a big understatement. It seems that Downs got better as time went on and that his value to the Jays was sometimes overlooked by some. He always did a great job, was the prototypical professional and will be remembered as one of the best LHP the Jays have had the pleasure of using out of the pen.
We wish him the best of luck in Anaheim and hope that he will enjoy the added vitamin D he will inherit while playing in an outdoor park instead of in a Dome.