This just might be the most intriguing time of the year for baseball. There are so many rumors flying around. Recent comments about roster turnover and being aggressive have Blue Jays fans at full attention for potential deals and moves. Perhaps because of this, the rumours around the Toronto Blue Jays are running rampant. From the club meeting with Russel Martin to the potential interest in Howie Kendrick to possibly using J.A. Happ as trade bait, there seems to be no shortage of rumoring.
Perhaps one of the more exciting rumors is that surrounding Pablo Sandoval. According to Nick Cafardo, the Blue Jays are among teams who are very interested in his services. Though, as Cafardo points out, the Red Sox and Giants appear to be aggressive in hunting down the Panda. And, at the end of the day, the team that lands him will be the team that is able to fork over the most bamboo (Get it? Bamboo is green, cash is green…sigh…never mind) The Giants have more sentimental reasons for keeping him. The Red Sox may have more financial bravery. The Blue Jays? They could get scared off easily.
Here’s what we know:
– Recently, we heard Sandoval was looking for at least 6 years.
– Then, his agent clarified: Sandoval will not limit his choices based on a minimum contract length. (h/t Chris Cotillo at SB Nation)
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All of this seems to put the Blue Jays in an interesting position. Firstly, Alex Anthopoulos has said that the club’s 5 year policy is firm. But, he has also said in the past that the policy can be seen as a guideline that can be stepped outside of for the right player. Is Pablo Sandoval THAT player? At 28, it would appear that the switch hitter just might be. But, then we have to remember that his 5′ 11″, 245 lbs body is not exactly going to get MORE athletic. Oh, then there’s the turf…
Do the Blue Jays want to deal with that issue in 6 years? Or, does it even matter? If the club is prioritizing winning NOW, it may be willing to deal with possibly moving him to first or DH at that point.
If Sandoval’s agent is saying that the length of the contract is not the most important aspect of where he signs, the Blue Jays may be in luck. AA has also said in the past that he may be willing to pay more per year for a shorter term. The Panda rejected the $15.3M qualifying offer from the Giants, so whatever the AAV (average annual value) is, it’ll have to be more than that. Some expect it could approach $20M per season. Would the Blue Jays be willing to do 5yrs/$100M? Should they?
Add to that the fact that signing him will also cost a draft pick because of the qualifying offer rejection. Is that going to scare off the Blue Jays? Or, do they feel comfortable enough where their farm system is that they don’t need to stock pile young players. This may follow along with the “win now” idea. Of course, right now, it looks like the Jays are going to be +1 in draft picks if Melky Cabrera walks. Which, may actually be a solid plan for the club.
It is well known that if they Blue Jays pursue Pablo Sandoval, they would solve a couple problems. It would allow Brett Lawrie to move over to second, thus filling that abysmal void. 2 birds, one stone. The argument can be made that the cost of filling both of those spots (via trade and free agency) is more than signing the Panda. In a trade, the club would be forced to give up players, most likely those that are a big part of the future of this club.
The Blue Jays are at a cross roads. They have some financial wiggle room with several areas of need. While their lineup is one of the better ones in baseball and their starting rotation was a source of relative stability, they are far from World Series contenders. This off season will likely be the litmus test for the club’s commitment to making the playoffs in even ONE of those years that Paul Beeston threw out there oh so long ago.
Their pursuit of a player like Pablo Sandoval will tell us a lot. This might be a good time for AA to live up to his ‘Ninja GM’ moniker. Maybe he can sweep in and blow everyone away. But, we have to remember that they will be competing with the Red Sox (who’ve already had contact and have a meeting set up at the upcoming GM Meetings) and Giants (among other teams) to land the Panda. They may not be successful in this pursuit no matter how hard they try (if the rumours even have truth to them), but the fact that they are part of the conversation is cause for optimism for a fan base that has been given little for a long time.