What I love about reading MLB Trade Rumors is not only their uncanny ability to dig up the latest rumors and whisperings, but also their tremendous insight as baseball writers. Their articles do a great job of not only breaking down a player or team, but also the business of baseball as a whole.
As an example, Jeff Zimmerman published a piece on Thursday that tries to create an accurate estimate for what this year’s crop of free agent starting pitchers will gain on the open market this winter. Admittedly, Zimmerman mentions that these models are far from accurate, and it’ll likely get broken when the first domino falls. However, they are often a fun window into what we can expect this winter. And with the Blue Jays shopping for pitchers, it’s certainly worth a look.
Admittedly, the Toronto Blue Jays will be faced with many difficult decisions this winter. The first of which will be whether or not to offer Josh Johnson a qualifying offer before he hits the free agent market. After looking over Zimmerman’s model, that could be a stupid decision to make.
Zimmerman sees Josh Johnson scoring a 1-year deal in the range of $8 million. That’s a a far cry from the $14.1 million price tag that would be attached to a qualifying offer. If the Blue Jays make the offer, Johnson will no doubt accept such an offer in order to rebuild his value for a multi-year deal next year.
Now, Josh Johnson could feasibly have a home in Toronto again next season, but the $8 million price tag would be a whole lot easier to swallow on a reclamation project than would be the $14.1 million. There is mutual interest between the two parties to possibly explore a 1-year deal as well, so it is a realistic possibility that we see Johnson again in Toronto. Both parties believe that Johnson is better than the 2-8 record, 16 starts, and 6.20 ERA he posted an abbreviated 2013 season.
Adding to that possibility is the fact that the remaining free agent market is less than encouraging. Add in the thought of having to pay some of the salaries below projected by Zimmerman, and Alex Anthopoulos’s already wary attitude toward the free agent market gets marginal at best.
Needless to say, the Blue Jays aren’t likely to take a big bite out of either of those three. There is still the possibility that they put in an offer of Ervin Santana, but he’s likely to come at a significantly higher price tag than the Blue Jays want to pursue. The same will likely be said, unfortunately, for Masahiro Tanaka.
So, Josh Johnson could be the best available option. And at a price of $8 million, maybe I’m not so adverse t that as I once thought.