Other Impacts from the Vernon Wells Deal


The more obvious issues were stated yesterday in broad form by most analysts, bloggers, and fans across baseball. Here are just some of the links you should follow if looking for alternative views on the deal:

These are just a few of the many views that are out there. The general sentiment is that the Angels are gambling big time, but that it’s a gamble their owner can afford and it’s also one that carries less risk than their prior deal with Gary MatthewsJr did. Meanwhile, everybody, and I mean everybody, has nothing but outstanding remarks about what this means for the Jays going forward. Fans calling in to MLB Radio have gone as far as asking how much it would cost their teams to trade for Alex Anthopoulos. You know you’ve hit a sweet spot when….

So, now that I’ve had some time to digest this deal a little, here are a few “other” impact areas of the deal that I came up with:

1 – The 2012 Free Agent Class is now 100% in play for the Jays, nobody is unattainable. The most prominent players I could foresee the Jays chasing are as follows:

  • Albert Pujols– Unlikely, but we can dream. He will only be available if St-Louis fails to offer enough money and years. While some think it’s a foregone conclusion he’ll remain in St-Louis, I could see a day where they simply say – we can’t afford this deal! If that happens, expect Alex Anthopoulos to charter the next flight right to St-Louis with his team of executives, as I’m positive they’d be camping out there until a deal got done.
  • Prince Fielder – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if Kendry Morales is healthy in 2011, there is no other team that can afford Prince Fielder more than the Jays can. If they want to bring him on board, they will. Their competition here will likely be the Texas Rangers, but I do believe Prince has a good chance of becoming a Jay if he has a productive 2011.
  • Grady Sizemore – I actually believe the Jays may target him before the trade deadline of 2011 and sign him to an extension. He’s the perfect buy low candidate and is still young at only 29 years old. The Jays have the goods to deal for him and the Indians are all for cutting costs now as they know they’re not challenging for a playoff spot any time soon. The club option to retain him for 2012 is only $8,500,000, a more tolerable contract than most out there for someone that has Grady’s skills. Health is a big issue here, but for 1 or 2 seasons, the risk is minimal.
  • Jose Reyes – This acquisition would depend solely on his 2011 performance and the performance of Adeiny Hechavarriain AA-AAA (and possibly MLB at year’s end). IF the Jays feel that Adeiny is far from what they believed he would be, look for them to make a move for Reyes, so long as he is healthy and productive in 2011.
  • The Jonathans, Jonathan Broxton or Jonathan Papelbon– There is little doubt in my mind that Papelbon will be pursued by the Jays for a few good reasons. First, he’ll want a shot at getting back at the Red Sox for not handling him the right way (so he believes). Second, he can’t do that anywhere else in the AL East because the Yankees have Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera, the Rays have little cash, and the Orioles won’t be a winning team. Add the fact that he is familiar with John Farrell, and you’ve got the perfect situation for him to land with the Jays. If the Jays can’t land him – or don’t want to because he continues to struggle some in 2011 after a lackluster 2010 – they could aim for Jonathan Broxton, who has the same upside in terms of becoming a real force at the back of any pen.
  • Other possibilities if options are not picked up by the player or the team (or the player opts out of the contract): C.C. Sabathia, Adam Wainright, Chris Carpenter, and Brandon Phillips. The Wainright and Carpenter scenario is an interesting one, because if Albert is somehow traded out of St-Louis due to the contractual issues, both of those veterans could immediately put their hands up and say “I want out”.

I won’t give a flat out prediction yet in terms of which of the players listed above will become a Jay in 2012 (or 2011), but my intuition tells me that the Jays will actively pursue nothing but the cream of the crop. This off season, they wanted to add some speed, they  went out and got one of the top 3 speed threats in the league in Rajai Davis. Each prospect they’ve targeted is either at or near the top of the talent at his position. With that thought in mind, and with a grain of salt since this is a far-reaching projection, I expect Prince Fielder, Grady Sizemore, and Jonathan Papelbon to be in a Jays uniform before the 2012 season begins unless the Jays feel that they have better options elsewhere (something that could develop in 2011).

2 – Extensions may be signed now that cash has been freed up. I’m not saying that the Jays will throw money around like it’s growing on trees, but some players may be extended sooner than usual to provide some certainty for the Jays, particularly now that those remaining behind have seen the Jays deal Roy Halladay, Shaun Marcum, and Vernon Wells in the span of 1 year. Players likely to be extended:

  • Brandon Morrow – I suspect that the Jays saw enough potential in his arm last season to get him under contract long-term. He has 2 years of arbitration eligibility remaining (2012-2013) and would be bought out of those and extended through 2014 or 2015 (possibly club options). Something similar to Ricky Romero‘s 5 year contract for just over $30 million seems reasonable and would allow the Jays to have some certainty in the future of the rotation through 2014 or 2015.
  • Aaron Hill – This wouldn’t really be an extension as much as it would be their picking up their options for his contract between 2012 and 2014. The decision has to be made before the 2011 season starts and I really can’t see the Jays turning away from it now that the Vernon Wells contract is off the books.
  • Jose Bautista – Yes, I do believe the Jays will sign Jose to a “long-term” contract. In his case, I believe a long-term deal means a 3-year extension at Adam Dunntype money – somewhere between 8 and 12 million per season for a $30-36 million total value. Unless they really want to blow up the squad and start over, Jose has to remain a Blue Jay in 2011 and beyond.

3 – Darin Mastroianni will get a very long look in 2011 and could earn a 4th OF spot.

  • His speed would be a huge asset to the Jays off the bench and he can man all 3 OF spots.
  • He’d be a cheaper option than acquiring Scott Podsednik, and he could allow the Jays to spend that money elsewhere as a result.
  • His 2010 AA season line of .301/.390/.398 was bettered by Darin this winter while playing in Venezuela when he hit .365/.449/.460.
  • Unless they allow him to prove his skills soon, they could wind up losing him in the same way they lost Brad Emaus – for nothing!
  • His great OBP and ability to hit LHP very well should be enough to get him on the bench in 2011. In my humblest of opinions, his bat is much more ready for The Show than the bat of Adam Loewen or Eric Thames, and he would be a tremendous asset to the Jays off-the-bench. He should make the squad if he has a strong spring in the same way that Mike McCoy did for himself in 2010. Let’s hope the results are different!

4 – The one thing NOBODY is talking about is the following: Alex Anthopoulos has saved Rogers a TON of money.

  • He dealt Roy Halladay who was owed over $15.75 million at the time (for 2010) in return for cheaper prospects of what is considered fair value (as close as one can get anyways). He then acquired Brandon Morrow to replace Roy in the rotation, so the savings were approximately $15 million total.
  • He signed cheaper than average free agents (Alex Gonzalez, Kevin Gregg, and John Buck for example) who all became integral parts of what was a winning team in 2010.
  • He turned Alex Gonzalez into the very affordable and controllable Yunel Escobar;
  • Letting John Buck walk allowed the Jays to nab a sandwich pick for the 2011 draft (42nd overall), which should result in higher ceiling talent being brought on board at an affordable rate.
  • He let Kevin Greggwalk instead of picking up his options which would have cost the Jays $8.75 million in salaries for 2011 and 2012. Instead of keeping him, and Scott Downswho would have cost the Jays $5 million each season for the next 3 years to retain for a total combined cost of $23.75 million, he let them walk and signed both Jon Rauch($3.5 million) and Octavio Dotel($2.75 million) for a total cost of $6.25 million in 2011, and possibly a club option being picked up in Dotel’s case for 2012. That’s over $3 million in savings for 2011 alone and it provides flexibility for the Jays in the pen for 2012 onwards.
  • He dealt Shaun Marcum, who although he had a great 2010, was an injury risk and would have cost the Jays more than $3 million in 2011 and beyond. Instead, the Jays get a prospect rated within the top 30 in all of MLB who can play everyday and is cheaper and controllable long term in Brett Lawrie.
  • He replaced the $23 million that was owed this season to Vernon Wells with a meager $2.5 million contract to Rajai Davis. Add in the second year of those contracts, $21 million for Wells and $2.75 million for Davis, and the Jays are saving $43,999,994 in center field over the next 2 seasons. Add in the two years at $21 million a piece the Jays would have owed Wells, and it’s $85,999,994 in saved salaries. Subtract the $11 million or so owed to Juan Riveraand Mike Napoli (although the Jays could have easily spent this much or more on the FA market for guys that have similar talents), and you still have a net savings of over$74 million.
  • The only real expenditures Alex Anthopoulos has added to the Jays thus far in his tenure include expansion of the scouting staff, the international signings ($13.8 million total), and his aggressive over-slot draft signings. All things that should result in a cheaper and more productive roster in the long-term and thus lower the player costs to Rogers in the future.
  • Finally, Alex has added many potential Canadian stars to the minors in recent months. The short list includes INF Brett Lawrie, SP Nicholas Purdy, and OF Marcus Knecht. While you may not think this lowers costs to Rogers, their ability to market these players as hometown heroes and sell tickets or get higher ratings once these guys develop sure goes a long way to making Rogers more money. Making more money is just as good as saving it, isn’t it?

The point I’m trying to make here is that only three times has Alex Anthopoulos gone to Rogers asking for a substantial amount of money in order to be aggressive on the market. The first 2 were in the chases for Aroldis Chapman and Adeiny Hechavarria.  He managed to win 1 and was runner up for the other. He stated after losing out on Aroldis that he was supported 100% in the chase for him and that they were simply outbid. The third time was in order to sign Ricky Romero to an extension worth $30 million over 5 years, well worth the money.

I firmly believe that with the amount of money Alex Anthopoulos has saved Jays ownership over the last year and a bit, he will get 100% support to spend money when that becomes an issue. Whether it’s chasing a free agent, taking on somebody’s big contract, or chasing another international free agent, the money will be there. How can it not be with what’s transpired over the last year?

5 – Finally, I would not be surprised to see Aaron Hillbecome the next player to be traded by the Jays. So many teams could use a power hitting 2B that his trade value is fairly high despite a lackluster 2010. I could easily be wrong on this one, but it’s my gut feeling that Aaron’s days with the Jays may be coming to an end.

  • With Brett Lawriepresumably ready to take over 3B some time soon, and Yunel Escobar being a good fit as a 2B to pair up with fellow Cuban Adeiny Hechavarria, Aaron may soon find his way onto another team. He’ll be 29 in 2011 and is still in his prime hitting years.
  • The Jays drafted infielders very aggressively in the 2010 draft, a possible indication that they will not pick up Aaron’s options past 2011. With Dickie Thon, Kellen Sweeney, Shane Opitz, and Christopher Hawkins all projecting as very highly skilled infielders, the competition for a future 2B seems strong in the Jays minors. Add the 2 rule 5 pickups the Jays made in 2010, Ivan Contreras(AAA) and Roan Salas (AA) – both infielders who can play 2B – it seems like a ton of Alex’s focus is on 2B and 3B, and for good reason.
  • Aaron just saw some of his great friends, Roy HalladayVernon Wells– and Shaun Marcum get traded to other teams, while others have left via free agency (Scott DownsBrian TalletKevin GreggJohn Buck) so leaving the squad now may be easier than ever.
  • There are so many teams who need a 2B with power that it would be useless to list possible trading partners, but the Jays have always found trading partners with much “harder to deal” players, so I don’t think that would be an issue under Alex Anthopoulos.
  • If the Jays deal Hill and play Lawrie at 2B, they still end up with a potent offensive lineup – assuming Lawrie can hit well enough. So, anything added is really a bonus and cost-saving measure.
  • My best bet would be that the Jays may deal him before spring training in order to get the best return for him and to allow the acquiring club an opportunity to pick up his options if they want to.

That’s what I have for now! I’ll continue to post some other thoughts and possibilities as I think of them!

– MG

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