Around the Table: Free Agency Begins


Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE

Q: What do you think the Jays need to target in Free Agency? What would you be happy with them coming away with?

Kyle Franzoni:
The Jays need pitching, pitching, and more pitching. However, I’m not satisfied with the talks surrounding Scott Baker and Shawn Marcum as targets. I want to hear how Toronto is chasing Dan Haren or how they are going to be seriously in the bidding competition for Zack Greinke. They may be a pipe dream, but Anthopoulos needs to make a concerted effort to try and land at least one of them. That said, it isn’t going to happen if next year’s salary budget is $90 million. There just isn’t enough room there.

 Kyle Matte:
I don’t think anyone would argue that, while Greinke would be a simply amazing acquisition, it’s just not going to happen for the Blue Jays. He pitched well with Los Angeles in the second half, and with their lack of interest in retaining Haren or Santana, they appear focused on getting Greinke locked up long term. Furthermore, the Rangers and Red Sox are rumored to be interested as well, so you can quickly see how out of hand the bidding may get. Toronto is going to need to target the second tier of free agent starting pitchers, and to me that comes down to trying to land one of Edwin Jackson or Anibal Sanchez.

Both pitchers are exactly what this team needs; a reliable, high-end number three starter. Jackson has made 31 or more starts in each of the last six years, which is truly amazing with the way arms seem to be falling apart these days. Over the last four seasons, he’s totaled 14.1 fWar. The top Blue Jays pitchers over that time frame? Ricky Romero at 10.4 and Brandon Morrow at 9.6. He has a pitch arsenal very similar to that of Brandon Morrow, so the two of them would likely work well together and perhaps even improve their games by looking at one another’s strengths and weaknesses. He’ll be 29 years old on Opening Day, and I’d be very willing to offer a four year contract, with an annual salary somewhere between 12 and 15 million.

Sanchez’ history of success and reliability is a bit shorter, but he’s still recorded at least 195 innings in each of the past three seasons, totaling 12 fWar over that span. Much of that success came in the National League, but Sanchez proved himself capable of handling the American League with a late season surge and a very strong postseason. His fastball is a notch lower than Jackson’s, but Sanchez makes up for it with a much more diverse repertoire, featuring a four seamer, cutter, slider, changeup, curveball, and sinker. My offer to Sanchez would be much the same, as I feel he and Jackson are on a level field talent wise.

Regardless, here’s hoping Toronto can accomplish something big, and that the big something isn’t named Kyle Lohse.

Jeff Morten:
The whole Greinke pipe dream is just a tease.  I wish there was a Roger Clemens-type of acquisition NOW when I think it would floor the fans.  What AA needs to be doing is jumping into trade markets and free agency with the same gusto and do it early.  If he hits the ground running with say Sanchez or Jackson it would lend some credence to what AA has been saying all along:  this is the year to make a big splash.

It is also a big deal for Rogers to lose the misconstrued idea that they are not willing to spend.  There is nothing wrong with a little overspending…seemed to do our World Champs teams some good.  I think it is more than possible to deal for Dan Haren AND sign Anibal Sanchez.  Allows the kids to develop and if a kid needs to come up and is bashing on the Major League door then we have decent trade chips. It is imperative we have some consistency next year in the rotation.  If we even had three pitchers put up numbers this year we would have been right there in the wild card hunt.  We need leaders.  We need gamers. A pitchers John MacDonald.  Sanchez proved to himself and to a lot of baseball folk that he has what it takes. The playoffs were his showcase and he came through very well.

Trade-wise I would keep an eye on the Padres and perhaps the Royals giving up on some of their young starters. I am not a stat head but I believe in character an hard play.  Hopefully we get a manager in place along with Haren and Sanchez and perhaps a Keppinger at 2nd.  Throw them to the media 2 days after free agency opens and that is how you build the anticipation needed to sell more tickets.

Kyle Matte:
I’m on board for Melky on a one year deal. It would be a boost to the present roster and would give Gose another season in Triple-A (in a significantly more neutral environment) to continue refining his offensive game for a long term role.

If all it took was a relief pitcher to land Haren, and the Blue Jays were interested, you have to imagine the Angels were asking for Janssen. Casey doesn’t have a single dominant pitch like Marmol’s slider, but he’s a much, much better pitcher overall and his contract is significantly more team-friendly. Obviously the team balked at the asking price, and likely countered with Steve Delabar or Brad Lincoln, which didn’t interestLos Angeles. That, or the ownership was simply too cheap to absorb upwards of 15 million in salary, which would be a bad sign for the remainder of the off-season.

Kyle Franzoni:
I said earlier this fall how I’d like to see Melky. He’s got a lot to atone for, which gives him incentive to play in a market like Toronto and rebuild a reputation.

Here’s another name to throw out there in left field. What about Ichiro. Jays don’t need power and could use someone to market and Ichiro comes with his chase to 3000 if he gets two years.

Kyle Matte:
I’m not sure I could be further off the Ichiro bandwagon. He had a good two months in New York, but that doesn’t make me forget about the previous year and a half in Seattle where he was a borderline replacement level player. He also has the “allure” of a future Hall of Famer, and I’m not interested in seeing the team pay for milestones. For the price he’ll command, for a team like Toronto, there are far better options.

Kyle Franzoni:
In the end, I think left field is going to be one of those positions left alone. This team has far greater needs in the pitching staff and signing just one of the names mentioned above relegates Toronto to another year of Rajai Davis and whatever platoon mate the team chooses for him.

Jeff Morten:
Rajai is perfect for a fourth outfielder. I would love to see if we could get Sin Shoo Choose….he would be nice in left and I could see him being available. Team player…good all around guy.

David Schecter
Did anyone else notice that Cody Ross wasn’t given a qualifying offer from the Red Sox? He could be a cheap option who is worth a sniff? Thoughts?

Charlie C:
I’ve been drinking again, so am going to do away logic and just go with my heart.  I want Mike Napoli.  That trade for Frank f’n Francisco still gives me nightmares.  We had a rookie catcher, Adam Lind coming off of a terrible year, and questions at DH, so after dealing the worst contract in the world for a guy that could fill in at all those positions AA decides to flip him for a pseudo ex-closer (who admittedly had a pretty nice season the year before).

Next season the Jays may, once again, have a rookie starting catcher and Adam Lind still sucks.  Napoli could provide roster flexibility by filling in all 3 positions mentioned above and allow AA to deal JPA alone or both he and Mathis.  Napoli’s 2012 was nothing like his 2011 but his .343 OBP would have put him third on the Jays team and his 2 WAR fourth.  He’ll be expensive, but as was mentioned earlier, AA is almost guaranteed to have to overpay in the FA market, Napoli can still hit and is ‘only’ 31.  A 2 year plus option deal may work.

On the pitching side of things, again, no numbers based logic here.  I’m from B.C., I graduated from same high school as Brett Lawrie, so that’s one BC kid down.  I say go and get Ryan Dempster to make two.  Gibsons is a nice place, filmed Beachcombers there.  Will give Buck and Tabby plenty of stuff to talk about.  He just needs to remember his passport.

Kyle Matte:
It would probably take 3 years for Napoli, but I’m with you on the value he could add as a 1B/DH/C, particularly if we trade Arencibia and go with d’Arnaud. I think I’d be comfortable offering him a deal similar to what we gave Encarnacion; 3/27-30.

I’d be perfectly happy to go three years.  Gives flexibility behind the plate and would allow D’Arnaud to be eased in.  And a power bat, can’t really go wrong.