Hot Stove 2014: Blue Jays Have Contract Option Choices to Make

Sep 13, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Adam Lind (26) hits a two run homerun in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles at the Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 offseason officially begins Thursday, when players can officially start filing for free agency as of 8:00am Central Time. The first order of business for all clubs, including our beloved Toronto Blue Jays, is whether or not the teams will exercise contract options on players.

For the Blue Jays, there are four such players that have club options for 2014; Mark DeRosa, Casey Janssen, Munerori Kawasaki, and Adam Lind.

The one no-brainer option on that list is closer Casey Janssen. With a $4 million club option for next season, he is the epitome of the bargain closer. The 32-year-old posted a 4-1 record with 34 saves (36 Chances) and a 2.56 ERA. His 2013 was actually oddly similar to his 2012 season, with the obvious exception being that he held the closer’s role the entire year in 2013 and no one thought twice about it.

Whether or not Janssen is moved this offseason in order to address other needs will be one of the more intriguing questions this winter. However, that move will be done via a trade and the Blue Jays will not take a chance with him hitting the open market.

The next closest thing to a sure thing didn’t appear to be when the season started. When Adam Lind began the 2013 season, he was seen as a strict platoon guy and the Blue Jays had no idea of what they would get from him. However, he rewarded them with a a big bounce-back season, hitting .288 with a .854 OPS, 23 home runs, and 67 RBI. Lind exceeded expectations to such a degree that he actually forced his way into the line-up against lefties a lot more often than originally intended. He’ll be 31 in July of next season, but his $7 million option ($2 million buyout) looks a lot move feasible now.

Mark DeRosa is another player the Blue Jays would love to have back. The 38-year-old journeyman was brought in as a veteran presence for a clubhouse that was seen as needing it, and his versatility was going to be important to the club. The only real question was whether or not he could stay healthy enough to matter on the field.

In his 16th year, DeRosa gave the Blue Jays everything they could of hoped for and more. With injuries across the infield, DeRosa saw plenty of action in 2013, playing in 88 games last season, his highest total in four years. He parlayed that playing time into a .235 average, 7 home runs, 36 RBI, and a .733 OPS, while appearing at five different positions. The Blue Jays hold a meager $750K option on his for 2014 and are likely to exercise it. The only real question is whether DeRosa will opt to play next season or retire.

The final option will be the most interesting. The Blue Jays will have to ask themselves how much value can you put on a 32-year-old shortstop whose biggest contribution is that he is a fan favorite. Munenori Kawasaki endeared himself to the Blue Jays faithful through quirky routines, lively interviews, and some scrappy play. With the injury to shortstop Jose Reyes, Kawasaki saw a large amount of playing time, appearing in 96 games and collecting 289 plate appearances in the process. He hit a meager .229 with a .634 OPS, but played solid defense at second and short and provided a little life to a team that otherwise exhibited little. Is that worth $1 million? That’s a question the Blue Jays will need to decide.

So, if you were Alex Anthopoulos, and I assure you that many of us think we are on most days, which choices would you make? Bring them all back or which ones?

Topics: Toronto Blue Jays

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  • revolu888

    Yes to all. They are all no brainers. Kawasaki is actually a good bench player so leave him in bufallo for depth.

  • Andrew van Laar

    I would like to say yes to all but I think we are better served having Goins who excels in all areas over Kawasaki save for quirkiness and is cheaper and if we keep Lind, we need a player who can destroy lefties to platoon with him because he can’t hit a leftie to save his life.

    • revolu888

      Wrong, Kawasaki walks better, strikes out less and is a better baserunner. Goins would be cheaper by half a million, so it shouldnt really be a question of salary in this case.

      • Andrew van Laar

        Those points are true but walks don’t give you RBIs and his arm is so incredibly weak that I have no idea how he is considered a SS and not a 2B. The only thing that Muni is much better at is getting on base. In terms of base running, he had 7 steals and I don’t see him running head over heals better than Goins.

        • revolu888

          You’re stating RBI as a true measure of player value? Seriously?

          Let’s try to disprove your flawed logic. In 2013 First baseman Player A walked 18.6% of the time and had only 73 RBI’s. Player B walked 10.5% of the time and had 106 RBI’s. Which player would you rather have?
          It’s impossible to truly tell the talent levels of players by just the walk rate. Nonethless player A is Joey Votto and Player B is Prince fielder.

          Btw baserunning includes running the actual bases, ie the mental base running game like advancing to third from first or second to home. Not just stealing

          And why can’t you keep both. Have Kawasaki and Goins in the minors. Both are useful as depth.

          • Andrew van Laar

            I think you just proved me right when you tried to disprove me haha. Higher walks and he had less RBIs. Obviously Fielder plays on a MUCH better team in terms of the guys he’s hitting behind so he has lots of OBP guys in front of him to drive in. All I am saying is that Kawasaki does not have the make up to drive in runs while Goins is built more for that.

            And yes I know that. Hence why I said watching them both run, there isn’t too much of a difference (I will give you that Muni is better but he isn’t all that much better than Goins).

            I would like to keep them both but why have $1 million in the minors? Don’t get me wrong, I love Kawasaki but from a business standpoint to me it doesn’t make sense to have a light hitting, poor defensive SS who should only ever play 2B sitting in the minors adding to our payroll. If the team can keep him and it doesn’t affect them getting inpact players, by all means let’s keep him, if it does in any way (salary wise, roster spot wise etc) get rid of him.

          • revolu888

            I get what you’re saying. Goins is young, has more upside the Kawasaki. If AA has a gun to his head and to pick to keep Kawasaki or Goins, he would pick Goins. But I’m pretty sure AA will keep them both. 1 million in the payroll in the minors is nothing compared to 7 million sinkhole we have in Romero. He’s not even on the 40-man. And Kawasaki has options, so it makes it much more worth to keep him, while you leave Goins to maybe work on his approach a bit more in Buffalo. Because think about it this way as well. What if Izturis sucks again and Goins gets injured. Whose your backup infielder? There is literally no one in our minor leagues as Major league ready depth.

          • Andrew van Laar

            I agree with everything you said :) Just if having Kawasaki gets in the way of doing something bigger, I would not cry that he left the team that is all. I love both those guys and how they play and what each bring to the team.

          • Andrew van Laar

            And by the way I would take Votto over Fielder in a heartbeat. Not because he’s Canadian but because he is a better ball player.

      • david s

        I like Kawasaki too but Goins is a far superior fielder and being strong up the middle is vital on the AstroTurf of Rogers Centre. Kawasaki’s OBP is very good and for that reason keep him, but on the bench or Buffalo where he merits a place. The number of double plays went up considerably when Goins arrived. Wins went up too. I want Kawasaki too but not as a everyday first line player… that would be a big mistake. Heart, drive and the ability to motivate people is not enough. We need Tinker, Evers, Chance, not Ever Tinker with no chance. Kawasaki is not good enough for the permanent 2nd base position. Goins is my man. If Kawasaki was the answer why did Goins take over at second in August. He must stay.

  • david s

    I say yes to all, but I am not sure about Mark DeRosa’s role as glue or as a sage. He is a great guy, and probably good at keeping everyone’s chins up during the dark days. He sure is versatile on the field. However, saying all that, is that worth a place on the 25 man roster. Is it possible to find a younger, just as versatile utility man who can hit at least .250? I like a club house man. I just want a bench player that can hit for better average.

  • Otto_Velez

    Janssen’s a no-brainer to pick up but what now?

    Of the two most obvious options (keep him or trade him) I’d definitely prefer to trade him and move Santos into the closer role. Bullpen is the only area of depth we can trade from on the ML roster and Janssen’s at peak value. I love Janssen but I just don’t know how the Jays win without more rotation depth. With that in mind, I wonder if the Jays would consider a third option – convert him to a starter.

    He certainly wasn’t as dominant as a starter earlier in his career but some key trends (K/9 and H/9 in particular) over the past three years really speak to his incredible command especially with his breaking stuff. He’s got the repertoire but its hard to know how his arm would hold up with the increased work load. There’s lots of examples of success (Sale, Wainwright, Morrow, C.J. Wilson) and almost as many failures – I wonder if its even a consideration within the organization?