Blue Jays and the Other Way To Spend

ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MAY 02: Wil Myers #4 of the San Diego Padres reacts after hitting a two-run homer in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on May 02, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GEORGIA - MAY 02: Wil Myers #4 of the San Diego Padres reacts after hitting a two-run homer in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on May 02, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Rather than spending on free agents, the Blue Jays might want to assume bad contracts to acquire young talent. Here is one scenario where that could happen.

The Jays are in a favourable payroll situation. Their 2019 payroll is estimated at $116 million, of which $49 million is retained salaries.  This total is unlikely to rise significantly in the near term from the existing player base, as so many of the current players are still early in their careers.

This payroll room could be used to sign free agents or to pursue expensive international players.  But it could also be used to take on “bad” contracts to acquire good young talent.

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

In an ideal scenario, the player acquired under the bad contract would meet several criteria.  First, they would fill a need, even if they are overpriced.  Second, they would have some upside – the Jays would be “buying low”.  And finally, they would bring something of situational value to the table, rather than just being poor at everything.

That said, let’s talk about Wil Myers.

The Padres signed Myers to a six-year, $83 million contract going into the 2017 season.  The contract was back-loaded, with the result that he is owed $68.5 million for 2020-2023 (including buyout).  Unfortunately for the Pads, Myers has not been producing at the expected level.  His underperformance, combined with the Eric Hosmer signing and the emergence of the Padres’ young outfielders, has left Myers largely without a position.

The Padres have long been rumoured to be interested in acquiring Marcus Stroman.  What if the Jays expanded the deal to include Myers, with the Pads contributing some amount of cash and adding prospects?

Why would the Jays consider Myers?

Myers can play roughly league-average 1B, LF and RF.  He also has 300+ innings at 3B, with a cumulative DRS of +1 (albeit a UZR/150 of -24.7).  If the Jays were working with a 3-man bench, he could therefore potentially fill the roles of both the 4th outfielder and the backup corner infielder.  He has above-average speed and baserunning, and so could pinch-run off the bench.  His 104 wRC+ from 2017-19 is made up of a 116 against LHP and a 100 against RHP, making him attractive as a platoon bat and pinch-hitter against lefties.  And finally, on the question of upside, Myers has batted .270/.364/.595 for a 147 tOPS+ in 88 career PAs in the Rogers Centre.  So Myers could be an intriguing option as a bench bat.

What would a Myers add-on deal look like?

Myers is currently averaging about 1 WAR in a part-time role.  So if we assume 3 WAR over the next 3 years, he would generate roughly $27 million of value at a salary of $68.5 million, for a negative surplus value of roughly $42 million.

Per fangraphs, a 55-rated top-100 pitching prospect is worth roughly $34 million.  A 50-rated top-100 pitcher is worth $21 million.  So the Jays could agree to absorb Myers’ full salary in exchange for two 50-grade prospects (like a Logan Allen and Michael Baez), or the Pads could offer one 55-grade prospect (like a Luis Patino) and add $8 million of cash.

The aggregate deal would look something like Stroman + pieces (some combination of Drury/Sogard/Galvis/Phelps/Hudson/low prospects/etc) for Myers + Patino + Allen + Baez + Quantrill.

Next. Stroman's injury scare could create a sense of urgency. dark

The bottom line

It is unlikely that the Jays could make a major free agent signing for the $42 million they would be “investing” in Myer’s contract.  If they could get two top-100 highly regarded prospects for that sum, they would be getting a bargain.  And on a more general note, getting good young starting pitching is very difficult.  If leveraging the Jays’ payroll flexibility can achieve that end, they should give it very serious consideration.

facebooktwitterreddit