Jays Secure One Fifth of Rotation Through 2016


Ricky Romero has blossomed into the ace that the Jays knew they were going to need to take a step forward after losing Roy Halladay this off-season. His demeanor and take-no-prisoner attitude have really set the standard for the rotation and he, along with Shaun Marcum, has taken the rotation under his wing as he gains maturity and experience. The Jays and Alex Anthopolous recognize what they have in Romero, moved to secure him long term in order to provide stability in the front of the rotation, and now have one fifth of the rotation secured through 2016. Well done Alex.

If the Jays are really going to bring a new swagger to the team and claim to compete in the AL East, they’re going to need to make Toronto a place where players clamour to come to. What better way to do this than to secure players such as Romero who help the team compete year after year. Also, remember that earlier this year the Jays also secured Adam Lind’s services through 2016, giving the team control over another of its core players through that time.

Romero’s deal breaks down as follows (all salary souces are from Cot’s Baseball Contracts):

  • $1.25 million signing bonus;
  • $0.75 million in 2011, $5 million in 2012, $7.5 million in 2013, 2014, and 2015; and
  • $13.1 million team option in 2016 with a $0.6 million buyout.

Lind’s deal through the same period was as follows:

  • $0.6 million signing bonus;
  • $5 million in 2011, 2012, and 2013;
  • $7 million team option in 2014 with a $2 million buyout;
  • $7.5 million team option in 2015 with a $1 million buyout; and
  • $8 million team option in 2016 with a $0.5 million buyout.

Even with these 2 lucrative signings completed, the Jays still have only the following amounts committed over the next 4 years:

  • $43.24 million in 2011;
  • $37.79 million in 2012;
  • $40.29 million in 2013; and
  • $34.39 million in 2014.

Now, before anyone quickly points out that many Jays players will be getting raises through arbitration ect.. I’d like to add that such raises will only be significant in 4 cases: Jose Bautista, who has 1 more year of arbitration (2011) before smacking FA in the face in 2012, Shaun Marcum who has 2 more years of arbitration (2011-12) before being eligible for FA in 2013, and both Brandon Morrow and Yunel Escobar who have 3 years of arbitration eligibility remaining before becoming FA eligible in 2014.

Therefore, my question of the day is, will any of these players be next in line to be secured by Alex Anthopolous and the Jays? And if so, which one and over what terms? It seems to me that the Jays would love to be able to keep Jose Bautista around if possible, but his price tag after the 2011 season may put him on the brink of becoming a huge trade asset instead. Meanwhile, Shaun Marcum’s health issues in recent years are a concern  – although health always comes into play for pitchers regardless of history. Therefore, I would expect that both Brandon Morrow and Yunel Escobar could be next in line to be extended through the 2015-16 period – if anyone is to be “next in line”.

Having said that, the Jays have already done much of the work in making Toronto an enticing destination for FA players to target. They have a real great core group of players who get along, and more importantly they also have the cash to bring in 2-3 players that could make the Jays real contenders in 2011 and beyond. The comination of winning and money may be too much for some FAs to resist now that so many of the Jays core are under control for a good period of time, so who could be enticed to sign here?

Here are my top 10 FAs available as of now this off season, in no order of priority or talent:

  • Victor Martinez 1B/C
  • Jorge Cantu 1B/2B/3B
  • Adam Dunn 1B/LF
  • Derek Lee 1B/DH
  • Carlos Pena 1B/DH
  • Carl Crawford OF
  • Johnny Damon LF/DH
  • Jayson Werth LF/RF
  • Cliff Lee SP
  • Rafael Soriano RP

My question is as follows, which one of these should the Jays pursue, if any? Or better yet, which one(s) will they pursue, in your opinion?

My best guesses are that the Jays will do all that’s possible to land 1 reliever in the J.J.Putz or Joe Beimel mold, and one of the players above. My favorite (going with my heart here) would be Cliff Lee, but I do expect he will remain in Texas or go to the Yankees. Unlike his predessesor, Alex Anthopolous has yet to voice his opinion as to whether or not Adam Dunn is a “real baseball player”, but I imagine that the stats he has put up since JP Ricciardi made the bold and silly statement have taken that out of the equation. So, the question is, does Adam Dunn fit what the Jays need and how would he alter the lineup – if he would indeed sign with the Jays after that “era” passed.

Well, I can tell you that Adam Dunn fits exactly the mold the Jays have set forth this year, a free swinging hammering team that would only become scarier with Adam on board. He could alternate between LF, 1B, and DH along with Adam Lind and Travis Snider, and would make the lineup a very scary one indeed. Fred Lewis would become a 4th outfielder and a great option off the bench.

1 – Aaron Hill 2B, 2 – Yunel Escobar SS, 3 – Jose Bautista RF, 4 – Adam Dunn DH, 5 – Vernon Wells CF, 6 – Adam Lind 1B, 7 – Travis Snider LF, 8 – JP Arencibia C, 9 – whoever plays 3B for the Jays in 2010.

That is one scary lineup in terms of power potential. All players 1 through 8 can feasibly hit 15+ HRs, and 7 of 8 should hit over 20 with 2 of those being 40+ candidates. How could opposing pitchers pitch around anyone in this lineup? I’m not sure they could. The one holdup here is that Adam Dunn seems happy in Washington, is demanding a 3-4 year deal – which may be more than the Jays or the Nats are willing to provide, although I would argue that an AL team that can slide him to DH is a much better option than sticking in the NL if a 3-4 year deal is in fact signed.

As you can see, the 9th spot was left open for a reason. The Jays have some internal options at 3B (Brad Emaus, keeping Edwin Encarnacion around, or Mike McCoy who is tearing up AAA right now), but there is also the option of brining the RBI machine that is Jorge Cantu on board. He can also play 1B or 2B in a bind, and wouldn’t cost as much as some other FAs out there.

Adam Dunn is making $12 million this season, at the end of a 2 year deal with the Nats. If the Jays were to offer him a $38 million deal over 3 years (with $2 million being a signing bonus), I’m almost positive they would be in great contention for his services. I’m not saying it would be enough, but it would be a top 3-4 offer. Dunn would be 33 years old in the final year of this deal and would still have plenty in the tank to provide his prodigious power. He’s on pace to hit 40 HRs or more for the 8th time in the last 9 years, something that is extremely hard – if not impossible – to find elsewhere.

Jorge Cantu, on the other hand, signed a 1 year deal worth $6 million with the Marlins in 2010, therefore his services could be secure with a 1-2 year deal at close to the same amount. Sure, he’s not my favorite guy to slot in at 3B by any means, but when he’s hitting anywhere from 7th to 9th in such a potent lineup, his stuff plays very well and he’d be a great stop gap until the Jays have a better internal option.

With all of that covered, my expectation and gut feeling has me thinking that the Jays will try hard to land both Adam Dunn and Jorge Cantu. If they land them, or one, great! And if not, the Jays will still be able to use their internal options or lesse FA options if need be.

With Dunn and Cantu onboard, the salary increase in 2011 and 2012 would be $18 million per season, with Dunn being a $12 million addition in 2013. That still leaves plenty on the table to spend on arbitration cases line Jose Bautista’s, as the commitments would be: just over $62 million in 2011, just over $55 million in 2012, and just over $52 million in 2013. That, my friends, are 2 very affordable signings for the Jays to complete, if that’s the route they want to take.

There is another option: signing Carl Crawford. As much as I love Carl’s makeup, I just don’t see how the Jays could offer him a better team, salary, and promotional opportunity than the Yankees, Angels, or Red Sox could – therefore I don’t expect the Jays will be able to land the top 2011 FA. Is it possible? Sure it is, but I don’t expect the Jays to want to offer many years and top dollar to another outfielder with so many already on board and the horrible Vernon Wells contract lingering in the air.

Therefore, if the Jays do as I put up above, and do let Scott Downs, Brian Tallet, and Jason Frasor walk as FAs in 2011 as expected, in order to pick up many draft picks for a very talented draft class, I expect they’ll aim to add to the pen as well. That makes Rafael Soriano a very enticing option indeed. Not only is he pitching up to his potential again, but he can fill the closer’s role a little more assuredly than Kevin Gregg can, and the pen would then only require 1-2 guys to be promoted from AAA in order to fill the roles of Brian Tallet and Jason Frasor. Jeremy Accardo and Josh Roenicke are more than ready for the tasks in The Show, and David Purcey is gaining enough confidence to become the long reliever of choice in the pen.

Soriano had signed a 1 year $7.5 million deal with the Rays in 2010, therefore he shouldn’t cost any more than $8-9 million per season at the very most, making him fairly affordable. The Jays would still be well under $80 million with Soriano signed and on board, and would instantly become one of the favorites in the AL East. The only very real problem with signing Rafael Soriano is that he will qualify as a Type A FA, making it hard for the Jays to substantiate giving up one of their high draft picks in 2011 to an AL East opponent.

So, while I would love to get someone of the calibre of Soriano on board to secure the 9th inning in 2011, I fully expect the Jays to decide on acquiring a Joe Beimel type to secure the 7th or 8th inning and remaining with Gregg as the closer in 2011. They will undoubtedly promote Trystan Magunson, Daniel Farquhar to either AAA or the majors depending on the remaining of 2010 and players lost in FA, and both Jeremy Accardo and Josh Roenicke, as well as Jesse Carlson who was just recently called up once again.

Whatever happens, the Jays are well on their way to contending for the long term. The new GM is continuously pluggin holes with high calibre and sought after players, and is quickly becoming known for his shrewd and quick moves. The signings, although not as flashy as trades, are just as important and should be commended for the stability they’ll bring to the franchise. As they approach managers about taking a job with the Jays in 2011 and beyond, I’m certain that their knowing that Ricky Romero will be their ace for the foreseeable future doesn’t hurt in extending the list of candidates who REALLY want the Jays job.