The World Series has begun and soon (at least 3 more games from now) the circus show called the “off season” will begin. Personally, I can’t wait. Whoever hoists the championship trophy at the end will signify the start of what is supposed to be an exciting time for the Toronto Blue Jays.
GM, Alex Anthopoulos has said that he is excited for what this off season will bring. He expects there to be a lot of turnover with the roster. While some of that turnover will not really come as a surprise as Casey Janssen, Colby Rasmus, Sergio Santos and others will be looking for new homes in 2015. What is unknown is the faces that will take their spots. Where will those new faces come from? If they are coming from the open market, there is one thing that will certainly be a hurdle. That is the “5 Year Rule”.
As Blue Jays fans, we’ve heard about this plan. We’ve heard that the Blue Jays DO NOT offer contracts longer than 5 years as a blanket policy. There was a point where AA softened on this policy and called it a ‘guideline’, but we’re pretty sure he’s back to standing firm on this issue. If that is true, then there may be a lot of fans who are left disappointed this winter.
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First and foremost, the negotiations with Mekly Cabrera could be impacted. The Blue Jays are looking to sign him to an extension longer than the one year qualifying offer. And, they’ve been open with Melky and his agent about their “5 Year Plan”. AA doesn’t get the sense that it is an issue. And, it very well may not be. If they can offer enough money to make Melky forget about the years, it may all be moot. But, we also know that AA doesn’t throw around Rogers’ money all willy nilly either.
Obviously, this will also have an impact on the ability to bring in other potential “big fish”. Anthopoulos feels quite confident that Rogers will provide him with the financial backing to pursue someone like, say, Max Scherzer. So, for the sake of argument, let’s use him as the example. The 3o year old (a Scott Boras client, by the way) will be looking for as many years as he can get. This will likely be his last big contract. He probably wouldn’t want to start looking for another contract at age 35. So, he’ll try and milk this one. After earning $15.5M in 2014, we know that this type of contract is going to push the limits of the Blue Jays. If Rogers is indeed prepared to provide the financial support for the kind of deal to land Scherzer, then the only real question comes down to years.
Which begs the question: Is this “5 Year Plan” the right course of action? This is where people are divided. Some say “Yes” while others say “No”. Both sides are equally passionate about their stance.
The argument in favour of this policy reminds us of all of the lengthy contracts and their success rate. And, there are lots of examples (a nice list can be found at BleacherReport): Alex Rodriguez‘ 10yr/$252M with Texas that turned into 10yr/$275M, Ken Griffey Jr. with the Reds for 9yr/$112M, Johan Santana 6yr/$137M with the Mets, Joe Mauer‘s $184M/8yr deal with the Twins, not to mention the Blue Jays own 7yr/$126M deal with Vernon Wells and possibly one of the worst, Mike Hampton‘s $121M/8yr deal with the Rockies.
One could argue that the Albert Pujols deal is not such a good idea. How has taking on Prince Fielder‘s contract worked out for the Rangers? Think the Tigers will be enjoying Miguel Cabrera‘s mega deal in the final years of his 10yr/$292M run? Do we think Buster Posey will still be worth $21M at age 34? Maybe. Perhaps the only contract of any length and value that makes sense is the deal the Angels worked out with Mike Trout. He’ll play the last year of his 6yr/$144.5M at age 28. Even then, they’ll be paying him $33M in the final 3 years. Think they’ll be enjoying that?
Indeed there is lots of evidence pointing to avoiding those lengthy, obscene contracts. But, there is still this nagging feeling that to avoid these deals like the plague is somehow detrimental to improving your team. This “5 Year Policy” was the reason the Blue Jays abandoned the pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka. Once it became apparent he wanted more, they bolted.
What is frustrating is that it seems that this plan, which may have its logic, seems to be a blanket policy that the club announces which ends up taking them out of the running. It takes you out of conversations before you even get to have them. And, they are announcing it to the world. That seems counterproductive when you are trying to entice people to come to Toronto.
Considering the plethora of rumours, etc about how much money ISN’T available to spend, you would think that throwing out there “Oh, we also have a very firm 5 year policy too” might not be the best idea. How many free agents have they already missed out on? How many more will they continue to miss out on?
Perhaps the most irksome part of it is that fans are screaming for signs that this club is committed and “all in” to win. After all, we’ve now been waiting the longest in baseball for post season action. But, there seems to be a nonchalant attitude about this plan and its impact. If a free agent goes elsewhere, it comes across as “Meh, no big deal. We didn’t want to budge on our policy”. And, the line is always that this “policy” is not a hindrance. So then what is? If it’s not years, it is money. But, we’re always being told there will be money if and when AA seeks it. But, then we hear that there is no money and players are offering to defer their salary. What exactly is going on?
I’m not trying to say the Blue Jays should say, “Screw it” and just start dumping truck loads of money and years on anyone and everyone. But, I do feel that taking yourself out of the running and applying this blanket rule is more of a problem than it is worth. This club seems to cling to it so desperately, yet it may actually be hurting them. There is nothing wrong with spending and signing intelligently. But to be so afraid of spending and signing as to institute such a policy does not seem all that intelligent.
What do you think? Is the policy helpful? Is it hurtful? Cast your vote below.