Alex Anthopoulos vs. J.P. Ricciardi Signing Comparisons

We all know that at any point in time, trades can make a huge difference. We also know that Alex Anthopoulos has a very effective trigger finger, and that he won’t shy from a deal if it presents itself while making sense for the franchise. Having said that, with his most recent extension now completed, I thought it would be interesting to see who he has committed to through extension since becoming the Jays GM.

Ricky Romero (26)

  • Signed a 5-year $30.1 million contract in August 2010 with a $1.25m bonus.
  • He makes $750K in ’11, $5m in ’12, $7.5m in ’13-’14-’15, and the Jays have a $13.1m option for 2016 ($.6m buyout).
  • The deal could wind up costing the Jays as much as $43.2m if the Jays pick up the ’16 option, when Ricky will be 31 years old.

Jose Bautista (30)

  • Signed a 5-year $65 million contract in February 2011 which prevented their going through arbitration.
  • He makes $8m in ’11, $14m in ’12-’13-’14-’15, and a Jays option for ’16 at $14m ($1m buyout).
  • The deal could wind up costing the Jays as much as $78 million if they pick up the ’16 option.

Adam Lind (27)

  • Signed a 4-year $18 million contract with 2 club options for ’14-’15-’16 in March 2010 with a 600K bonus.
  • He makes $5m in ’11-’12-’13, could make $7m in ’14 ($2m buyout), could make $7.5m in ’15 ($1m buyout), and could make $8m in ’16 ($.5m buyout).
  • The deal could wind up costing the Jays as much as $37.5m if they pick up all 3 options years.

Yunel Escobar (28)

  • Signed an extension worth $10 million with 2 club options for ’14-’15 in June of 2011.
  • He makes $2.9m in ’11, and has been extended to make $5m in ’12-’13, and the Jays hold options for $5m in ’14-’15.
  • The deal could wind up costing the Jays as much as $20 million if they pick up both options.

Altogether, these 4 signings represent the following investments for the Jays if they decide to pick up all options through 2015:

  • $16.65m in 2011
  • $29m in 2012
  • $31.5m in 2013
  • $33.5m in 2014
  • $34m in 2015

A couple of notes before I go on: I didn’t include Rajai Davis, Edwin Encarnacion and others due to their short-term signings, and I went to 2015 since Escobar’s deal didn’t extend to 2016. However, I will note that the 2016 total for Romero, Bautista, and Lind is $35.1 million if all 3 options are picked up by the Jays.

What does that indicate in terms of budgets for the future?

Well, if we listen to what the Jays brass have been touting, the Jays could very well be in their way to budget expenditures that will go well past the $100 million mark. As some of them would say, that will happen “if and when it makes sense for the organization to do so”. If that’s true, here’s what the Jays would have to work with now that those signings are in the books and assuming that all of them remain with the Jays through this time (using $100m as a minimum investment), with the other commitments already made included in brackets at the beginning of each line:

  • ($7.15m) Budget at $100m = $63.85m in ’12 to work with
  • ($3.65m) Budget at $100m = $68.5m in ’13
  • ($0) Budget at $100m = $66.5m in ’14
  • ($0) Budget at $100m = $66m in ’15

What does this tell us altogether?

  • The Jays are seemingly set at 1B, RF (LF or DH), SS (or 2B), and a spot in the rotation through 2015 if they exercise all options through 2015. This includes filling the #1 (or #2), #3, and #4 spots in the lineup, as well as their #1 starter.
  • They have anywhere from $63.85m to $68.5m to use to round out the remainder of the roster if they set the budget at $100m beginning in 2012. Obviously, if they do go as high as $125-$150 million as hinted could happen during their pre-season address to season ticket holders, they have a lot more to work with.
  • They have not once included either a player option in any of their new contracts.
  • They have not once included a no-trade clause.
  • They have always obtained club options which increase the flexibility the club has to work with.
  • Each player they signed long-term was under 30 years old, has a history of healthy play, and signed what can be viewed as a team friendly contract – even if there is risk involved in any long-term deal.
  • None of the contracts goes past 2016, even with options included.

Another interesting note is that 3 of the 4 players signed long-term were inherited from the J.P. Ricciardi era, showing that Alex Anthopoulos isn’t “overhauling” the core of the team. However, the contracts that Anthopoulos has put in place since his arrival do not compare to those completed by J.P. Ricciardi during his tenure as Jays GM, and that’s a VERY good thing. In comparison, Ricciardi had signed players to the following contracts:

Vernon Wells

  • Signed to a 7-year $126 million contract with a full no-trade clause.
  • Got a $25.5m signing bonus to be paid in 3 yearly installments.
  • Wells had an opt out clause post 2011.
  • Set to receive bonuses for MVP, most all-star votes ect…

Alexis Rios

  • Signed to a 7-year $69.835 million contract with ability to block trades to 6 teams.
  • Got a $3.5m signing bonus.
  • Had a trade clause included that if he was traded  between beginning of ’11 and Spring Training ’14, all of his salaries would increase by $0.5 million and that if traded in ’14, his salary in ’15 would increase to $14m with a $2m buyout vice $13.5m with a $1m buyout.

Talk about a difference in approaches. Another clear example would be his signing of A.J. Burnett for $55 million over 5 years, armed with a $6 million bonus, an opt out clause for A.J. in ’08 - which he used, an ability to block trades to 15 clubs, and a ludicrous clause that stated that the “deal includes 8 round-trip limousine trips per season between Toronto & Burnett’s Maryland home for his wife.” WOW!

Here are the most noted differences between Anthopoulos and Ricciardi signings:

  • Ricciardi seemed to approach each deal with a “we have to lure this player to Toronto” approach that sought to give players all sorts of incentives to stay put. Anthopoulos is only signing players who have already indicated that they are both proud and happy to be Toronto Blue Jays players.
  • Each time, he signed his “star” players to contracts, Ricciardi made them way too lucrative and long in duration. Anthopoulos has instead used the “team option” approach to ensure that the club has both access to the player should it want it, or the ability to select a different – and hopefully better – option if it presents itself.
  • The bonuses are almost non-existent under Anthopoulos but were very prominent under Ricciardi.
  • The incentives, including the no trade clauses, gave the players all of the power and took away the flexibility of the Jays to make moves if and when deemed appropriate when Ricciardi was at the helm. Anthopoulos has yet to include an incentive to any player, include Bautista who broke their all time HR record!!!
  • The total of the deals, worth nearly $200 million for only 2 playersVernon Wells and Alexis Rios, works out to an average of $27.97 million per season, nearly the same yearly amount the Jays will be paying for Ricky Romero, Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, and Yunel Escobar if they use all of their options through 2015.

The difference in approach is not only refreshing to Jays fans because they make more sense, but also because they allow the Jays the flexibility they need to make significant moves in the future. I, as with many other Jays fans, will believe that the Jays will move towards a $100 million plus budget when I see it. But, when you look at the moves and signings that Alex Anthopoulos has made since he has taken the helm, you realize that he can make $70 million go about as far as J.P. Ricciardi could make $90 million go, so it may not be necessary – or prudent – to surpass that mark too quickly.

As Jays fans begin to wonder whether the Jays will make a move for Jose Reyes, Prince Fielder, or other soon-to-be big name free agents, I have to caution that it will take what I call a “J.P. Special Edition Contract” to get that stature of a free agent in a Jays uniform. Can, or should, the Jays make that kind of investment once again? Or, should they continue to make smart and sound signing that continue to add pieces to their core?

I think the answer lies only between the ears of Alex Anthopoulos and will only be answered when he assesses whether or not that signing would push the Jays to their ultimate goal of being a perennial contender. Anything less would not be worthwhile and would be contrary to anything he has done, or said, thus far. He has stated over and over again that the Jays are not going to take any short cuts. In my mind, that means that the Jays may be more willing to extend players they helped build into the players they are than to reach out to a high named free agent that may not be worth the investment in the end and would definitely be asking for bonuses, incentives, and power that would restrict the flexibility of the franchise as a whole.

Finally, I’d like to point out one last detail: After signing their massively lucrative deals, both Wells and Rios failed to live up to expectations. Meanwhile, the 3 of those signed by Anthopoulos with playing time to look at after signing their deals have done better post-deal. What does that tell us? If you sign an “honest” contract that you know you can live up to and that doesn’t place undue expectations on you, it may be the better long-term option for you and can benefit your results on the field. You don’t need to look any further than Lind and Bautista having career years simultaneously than to know that some of this has to be true. Not every player will respond in the same way, but there are so many examples similar to that of Wells and Rios (Werth and others) that I don’t feel I have to go any deeper than offering their examples.

However you cut, slice, or dice it, you have to agree that all 4 major extensions misted above and completed while Alex Anthopoulos has been at the helm are all team friendly, predictable, and great value contracts that will work towards making the franchise stronger as a whole. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next for the Jays in terms of extensions. Will Brandon Morrow be next since he has 2 more arbitration years before becoming a FA after the 2013 season? He definitely fits the mold and would be a great “sign low” candidate.

The comparison completed above was done to provide Jays fans with a clearer picture of what has gone on of late and how the faces of the franchise have been secured without making any silly or too-risky investments. Even if you deem one or another too risky, you have to at least agree that they are better than the major deals agreed to during the J.P. Ricciardi era. And, when you consider that Alex Anthopoulos was able to get 2 players in return for the worst of the two, you are forced to tip your cap to the Jays GM for a job well done.

Alex Anthopoulos wins on all counts. No doubt about it. If you can criticize any of his long-term signings, please state your case below, because I can’t find fault in any of them. I’m only waiting to see if his signings are accompanied by more of the same, or whether they are accompanied by one or two big signings. Time will tell….

(all figures included above were courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts)

- MG

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  • mudpie

    I definitely criticize the edwin and rajai signings. 1 year was way too long for edwin and why the 500k buyout? and what had rajai done to deserve a 2 year deal? melky cabrera signed for about 1 mil. how does rajai justify 3 mil?

    • Mat Germain

      Really? Come on mudpie, I really think you’re being too harsh here.

      First, you have to realize that AA saves the Jays over $80 million by coming up with a way to deal Wells. I’m pretty sure that covers Edwin, as well as Rajai who they essentially needed to man CF respectively with Wells gone.

      Second, for a measly $2.5 million in 2011, AA got the 2nd fastest man in all of MLB. Only Juan Pierre had more SBs in 2010. Know how much he’s making? $8.5 million.

      Third, the Jays needed a lead off guy as well and they really thought they could get Rajai to shorten his swing and become that guy. What they didn’t see coming was that he wouldn’t, and that injuries (particularly to Lind) would force him to the bottom of the lineup because having him at the top only meant that every single time he got on base, he couldn’t use his speed since it meant all other teams would walk Jose Bautista. So, he has hit 7th or so most of the season and hasn’t had the greatest of people hitting behind him as a result. There’s a big difference between hitting 1st with Yunel behind you and 8th with Nix behind you.

      I don’t think there’s 1 baseball person out there who would have predicted Melky Cabrera would figure things out in 2011. AA is a GM, not a voyant!

      As for Edwin, the only other option out there for the Jays was Valddy Guerrero and he obviously wanted way too much to sign with the Jays (he signed for $8 million with the O’s). Edwin was already well liked in the club house and had just hit 21 HRs in 332 ABs. Again, I don’t think anyone would have predicted such a huge power drop off from Edwin, particularly at only 28 years old.

      Finally, after all of that you’re going to criticize him over a $500,000 buyout? Really? What should a buyout be? $50K? $1K? 20 bucks?

      AA’s deals are all sound. The day there’s an argument to be made as to otherwise, let me know!

      • mudpie

        I’m sorry matt, this is not the teachers pension plan, the goal isn’t to save money, it’s to win games. rajai was making 1.3 mil and suddenly alex more than doubles his salary for no reason after a bad year. for the record, melky’s career ops is higher than rajai’s. and melky is a lot younger than rajai. all I’m saying is that they are similar players but alex gave rajai 3 times the salary!

        as for edwin, there was russel martin available but alex is a cheapskate now and refuses to sign anyone for over 5mil. but the fact remains that nobody wanted edwin and he had no offers so why offer him 2.5 mil? he should have offered him a non guaranteed deal or else put a bonus based on PA so if he struggled which he is now, then alex could simply have waived him.

        the point you are missing is that by overpaying these guys alex is now aghast to waive them. he knows that the easiest way to piss off rogers is to pay player to stay at home. just ask JP. this is exactly why accardo was not let go, because he was making 1 mil. even that low amount was too high to stomach.

        why was a 500k buyout even necessary? what leverage did edwin have to command that?

        of course all deals look good when you are running a shoestring budget and only spending 2-3 mil here and there. but that money could easily have been used to sign guys like russell martin or johnny damon, guys with proven track records. now we are stuck with rajai for another year instead of being waived because alex overpaid.

  • David Robson

    I agree with the deals, but think some of the current players shouldn’t be here next year like Edwin and Nix.

    • Mat Germain

      I don’t think we have to worry about that with Brett Lawrie manning 3B in July and beyond. I am really hoping his glove holds up. If it does, the Jays will have a terrific infield in 2012!

    • aaforpm

      Jays apparently offered Russell Martin the same money as the Yankees but he went to NY because he figured he had a better chance of winning.

      I don’t like the EE signing but AA said he believed there was upside there…and it’s tough to argue that there is any with Damon.

      I would have preferred Melky’s OBP over Rajal’s but I can see why they liked his speed and hoped that he’d get on base more.

      I don’t care if they Jays don’t sign any big names because those guys are usually overpaid aging veterans (see Jason Bay, Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Carl Crawford), I also don’t want to give up draft picks.

      I think patience is key, until then hope that Kelly Johnson has a good year in 2012 when the Jays get him to take over for Hill at second base (educated guess)

  • Yoda

    Ricciardi did not like Toronto, he only came to Toronto because it was a huge promotion to GM. A stepping stone to something bigger and better like a GM post in the US. Notice how much he loves talking to the US networks and paper. How could he sell the good quality of Toronto to the players when he didn’t see any. His only weapon was money and player friendly clauses. Anthopoulous is a Canadian, he makes Toronto his home. He is proud of Toronto and sees its finer qualities, so he is able to convince the players to play here.

    On the subject of Encarnacion, 2.5 mill wasn’t bad. What made it bad was seeing him play defense. The alternative was seeing Juan “a two year old can beat me on a foot race” Riveria manning Right Field. It was the lesser of two evil (maybe?). I think the poor defensive play, messed with his head. I don’t think Edwin would have done so poorly had he stayed at DH, which was AA’s original design. No one could anticipate getting Juan as part of the Wells deal. In fact, after the Wells deal, AA should get a free pass on all bad deals, at least until the end of the decade.

  • Matt

    All of AA’s moves so far have been fantastic. I didn’t agree with all of them immediately but proved he knows more than I do!

    His next one will be the final test IMHO, does he commit ig dollars and long term to Prince Fielder or another premium DH type bat?

    I guess he doens’t commit any significant money to the bullpen via a Papelbon type player.

  • Brad Hardeman

    Riccardi did make a pretty solid deal when he signed Aaron Hill to a long term contract. He was easily underpaid during his pre-free agent years and we are about to see how helpful those options are now that he is no longer playing at the same level as he used to.

  • Tim

    I’m pretty sure that JP let AA handle the Aaron Hill deal. It’s remarkably similar to the contracts signed once AA was the GM

  • Tom


    The Aaron Hill contract was done by AA. It was the original model for young players being locked up to team friendly deals, copied by the Rays (Evan Longoria).

    • Mat Germain

      Completely agree Tom. Well said.

  • G Man

    Mat, is the this the point/counter-point on Ricciardi’s tenure. I always felt like he overvalued certain guys when it came to contracts, surprising for a guy who’s rep was as a talent evaluator?

    • Mat Germain

      Somewhat. Like I said, J.P.’s a good talent evaluator, he’s just a horrible business man. I think he’s in the best position he could be in with the Mets. Not everyone’s equipped for the GM job, and from what I’ve seen from AA thus far, he was born to do this. I can’t see him going anywhere for a very very long time and do expect that he’ll bring a few championships to Toronto.

      I doubt J.P. will ever be a GM again. If he is, it better be with the Yankees or Red Sox, because he needs tons of cash to do what he wants to do!

  • mudpie

    another point on rajai, he’s been a backup of for his entire career, melky has been a starter. BIG difference. and their sb perc is basically the same. and as far as rajai’s 50 sb, they were on a bad team so was he stealing when they were down by 5 when it didn’t really matter? and with all those stolen bases, he only scored 66 times.

    and melky having played for the yankees, knows how to walk. rajai never has.

    the jays really need to adapt the philosophy of the yanks and sox, only sign players that take lots of pitches and know how to walk. it’s easy to fall in love with home runs and sb’s but we’ve seen that doesn’t work.

    • Fan

      So what you’re saying is to make the playoffs – that’s fair. But you think a Melky Davis switch in addition to a stronger DH via free agency last summer would push us into the playoffs? And if so, would we stand any sort of chance then?
      Maybe you should get your head out from under the covers and revel in the masterpiece that is AA.
      I dont need to outline his great moves – the Marcum deal is STILL pretty risky. Notwithstanding that risk, we are starting the most proper and correct ways of building a Major League Baseball championship caliber teams. Not with gat dang Melky Cabrera’s and Guerrero’s hitting 5th. We’re way thinner on pitching at the Major Leagues than we thought, ut who’s going to argue that we have keepers in Romero, Morrow and Drabek to represent the #2 #3 #4 in no particular order. Then, as the Yankees so often have done, we buy ourselves (or trade for, easily, given AA’s masterful work in prospect development) a #1 ace. We can also easily add one if not two veteran arms for playoff depth.

      • Matt

        I think that Romero is turning into an ace personally. Compare the season he’s having this year against David Price 2010 and it’s remarkably similar – Ricky’s numbers first

        ERA – 2.98 vs. 2.72
        WHIP – 1.198 vs. 1.193
        BB/9 – 3.2 vs. 3.4
        K/9 – 8.0 vs. 8.1

        David Price was 2 years younger in 2010 than Ricky is now but he finished 2nd in Cy Young voting so was pitching at an elite level. Ricky is doing that this year so you have to at least consider him in the ace conversation.

        The rest of the pitching (after Morrow) is less settled but has so many options for 2012 it’s scary. Romero and Morrow as 1 & 2 then for 3, 4 & 5 you have Cecil, Reyes, Litsch, Villaneuva, Drabek, Stewart, Mills & McGowan battling.

        Looking further away there are to many names to mention with high ceilings that make the future look rosy.

  • David Robson

    Things could have gone different, before Wells and Rois signed long term deals they looked like the corner stones of the organization. And I remember as a fan wanting the Jays to lock up Wells before he became a free agent and he would have been the top free agent that year. I think the thing that made these deals bad was they were long and the production dropped off quite a bit after the signings. But if I could have Wells and Rois on a team playing the way they did before they signed the contrats I’d take that too two great defensive outfeilders hitting .300 with 30+HR and 100-130 RBI’s. I mean we seem to be getting that from Lind and Jose this year at a much better long term cost so AA does set out better contracts.

    • Fan

      Make no mistake, the point of that post was not to single out our lack of a POTENTIAL ace. Which is essentially what you’re saying – that Romero has ace potential. There are only 8-10 elite pitchers in the league, and i can almost assure you Romero will not be one of them. I’m not dumping on him, just that i’m saying the Jays will go out and spend the 15-20 million on that ace when the time comes, which has been my point. So either Romero becomes that guy (unlikely, and i dont count Price as elite), or we buy one.

      • hgjrklfsel

        Your standards for “elite” pitchers seems quite high. I think Romero is a pretty good #1 guy seeing as only a handful of teams ahve the luxury of a “true ace”…

        Josh Johnson
        Greinke? (2011: FIP – 2.31, 11.9K/9, 1.3BB/9)

        Thats about it i think?

        I’d definitely put Romero in the “A1″ tier with guys like Price, Lester, Kershaw, Hanson, Sabathia…

  • James

    It is easy to pile up on JPR now, but he did twice sign Doc Halladay to very club friendly contract extensions. Wells mega mistake is more of JP’s boss fault rather than him.

    How about signing Frank Catalanotto, enjoy a couple of offensively productive seasons and let him go as a type B FA? They drafted Lind using that sandwich pick. How about trading for JoBau?

    I am not defending JPR and will agree with every nasty word anyone wants to say about him. But give credit where credit is due