For anyone who wants a continuously updated list of 2011 FAs, MLBTR provides the best source of information here. For Jays fans who want to know how much money the Jays have to work with from here on out, Cot’s Baseball Contracts provides excellent tables that show commitments for the next 5 years here. As you can see within their table, the Jays only have $33.17 million committed in 2011, but you have to add in the small raises that arbitration eligible players will get to that amount. In order to get the best estimate of the budget Alex Anthopoulos will have to work with in the 2010-2011 off season, we have no choice but to make some key assumptions in terms of personnel who the Jays will retain and have on board at that time. Here are the assumptions I am ready to make as of today:
- Both Jason Frasor and Scott Downs will either be traded or will not be re-signed for 2011.
- The Kevin Gregg acquisition will go through and that he’ll be retained at an approximate cost of 4.75 million in 2011.
- Jeremy Accardo will take over the set up role and will do well, and will cost the Jays 2.75 million as a result (the same salary that Jason Frasor got in his final year of arbitration due to good performance)
- Shaun Marcum and Casey Janssen will be retained without going to arbitration at a cost of 1.15 million and 900K respectively.
- The Jays will not exercise the option for Alex Gonzalez.
- The Jays will not sign Edwin Encarnacion who already costs them 5.175 million in 2010 and has 1 more arbitration year that could push his salary over 6 million.
- The Jays will trade Lyle Overbay or let him go at season’s end.
- Jose Bautista will be retained once again as a bench player, and will cost the Jays 3 million to re-sign in his final year of arbitration.
- John Buck will do well and will be retained to split time with J. P. Arencibia at a cost of 2.8 million for 1 season.
- Brian Tallet will be let go or traded during the season, while Shawn Camp will be re-signed at a cost of 2 million in his final arbitration year.
- Dustin McGowan, only in his second arbitration eligible year, will get a 250,000 raise to .75 million.
- Brandon Morrow, Jesse Carlson, and Jesse Litsch, in their first year of arbitration, will all be signed for 600,000 each.
- Adam Lind, also eligible for arbitration for the first time, will get a raise to 1,500,000.
- Merkin Valdez will make the pen and will make approximately 500,000 in 2011.
- For the remainder, we’ll make it the minimum at 450,000.
I know that the list above is a lot of assumptions, but they’re approximately accurate enough for us to get a decent idea of what Alex will have to work with during the next off season, which is about $56,890,000 committed to players listed above, as well as for Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill who are the only 2 players set to make more than 5 million in 2011.
The decisions made above leave the Jays with holes at the following positions: 1B, 3B, SS, and RP. The Jays can very easily fill the holes at 1B and RP internally, with Brett Wallace taking over 1B duties full time in 2011 and the Jays have an excellent bunch of RP ready to make the jump in 2011 with Danny Farquhar and Tim Collins. So that leaves us with glaring holes at 3B and SS.
The 2011 FAs, as listed today on MLBTR, for those positions are as follows:
3B: Garrett Atkins (31) – $8.5MM club option with a $500K buyout, Adrian Beltre (32) – $5MM player option with a $1MM buyout and option reaches $10MM with 640 PAs in 2010, Wilson Betemit (29), Geoff Blum (38) – $1.65MM mutual option, Jorge Cantu (29), Eric Chavez (33) – $12.5MM club option with a $3MM buyout, Craig Counsell (40), Pedro Feliz (36), Jerry Hairston Jr. (35), Bill Hall (31) – $9.25MM club option with a $500K buyout, Wes Helms (35), Brandon Inge (34), Mike Lowell (37), Melvin Mora (39), Jhonny Peralta (29) – $7MM club option with a $250K buyout, Aramis Ramirez (33) – $14.6MM player option, Miguel Tejada (37), Juan Uribe (31), Ty Wigginton (33).
Alex will find it tough to sift through these oldies and get real long-term value. He does have 3 decent options in Jorge Cantu, Johnny Perralta, and Aramis Ramirez, but the latter two are likely to re-sign with their teams, leaving only Jorge Cantu for all of MLB to bid on. That makes Jorge Cantu FA signing candidate priority #1. (if he doesn’t sign an extension before FA opens).
If you thought 3B options were limited, take a peak at this bunch to fill the glaring hole at SS:
SS: Alfredo Amezaga (33), Orlando Cabrera (36) – $3MM option with a $1MM buyout, Juan Castro (39), Alex Cora (35) $2MM option vests with 80 starts, Craig Counsell (40), Bobby Crosby (31), Adam Everett (34), Alex Gonzalez (33) – $2.5MM club option, Khalil Greene (31), Cristian Guzman (33), Jerry Hairston Jr. (35), Cesar Izturis (31), Derek Jeter (37), Julio Lugo (35), Jhonny Peralta (29) – $7MM club option with a $250K buyout, Nick Punto (33) – $5MM club option with a $500K buyout, Edgar Renteria (35) – $10.5MM club option with a $500K buyout, Jose Reyes (28) – $11MM club option with a $500K buyout, Miguel Tejada (37), Juan Uribe (31), Ramon Vazquez (34), Omar Vizquel (44).
For those of us dreaming of a healthy Jose Reyes in Toronto, we can all shake our heads as neither is likely to happen. Derek Jeter will forever be a Yankee, and even Miguel Tejada, Johnny Perralta, and Nick Punto are likely to re-sign with their present clubs and wouldn’t be long-term options anyhow. This leaves only the guy I stated above should be let go, Alex Gonzalez, and Edgar Renteria as decent options, but neither one is a long term option or an offensive impact player. The most likely SS of the list above to be signed if Alex doesn’t trade for an MLB ready SS prospect is either Cristian Guzman, or Bobby Crosby if he can turn it around this season with the Pirates. Chances are the Jays would rather keep Alex Gonzalez and his excellent D instead of signing Guzman, so I’ll retract my thinking above and say the Jays will pick up Alex’s $2.5 million option.
What would adding Jorge Cantu (3B) cost in terms of money? Well, he’s set to make $6 million in 2010, so a raise of $2-3 million is likely if he plays as well as is expected, especially when you consider the 3B market. Let’s say he costs the Jays $9 million, or $18 million over 2 years. This, along with adding the $2.5 million to be paid to Gonzalez, would push the committed amount for the Jays in 2011 up to $68,390,000 and would feasibly leave Alex with around $21 million left to spend if the Jays set a budget amount of $90,000,000.
There are some very interesting starting pitchers that will be FAs in 2011, such as: Josh Beckett, Cliff Lee, and Brandon Webb. Any of these guys, assuming they are healthy at that time, would solidify the rotation immensely and could help make the Jays into real contenders in 2011. Let’s say the Jays are able to land one of these 3 guys and do call up Kyle Drabek to take a role within the rotation, it would provide them with some real top-notch talent that could push them to a new level. Therefore, I say that Alex will spend his money on finding a 3B like Jorge Cantu in the 2011 FA market, unless he trades for one before then, and also in the SP market. Look for him to find a long term SS option through trade and for a high-end prospect instead of waiting for the FA market at the position to open.
Whatever happens between now and then will definitely impact his analysis and I still believe Alex could wind up trading for a Dan Uggla or other player that would change the 2011 FA focus. But one thing is certain from this point forward, the Jays will have anywhere from $25 million to $35 million to spend on FAs depending on where they set their budget. It should be fun to see how Alex spends that amount – or whether he decides to trade for lesser cost players instead.