A number of top-50 free agents have already signed (sadly, none yet with the Blue Jays). As a thought experiment, how much would you have paid for them?
The Blue Jays have been “linked” to several free agents this off-season who have gone on to sign with other teams (to the chagrin of Toronto fans!).
Some fans have been critical of Team Shapkins, saying that Toronto’s failure to sign these players shows a lack of commitment. Other fans believe that the Jays FO has done their best, but that players simply refuse to consider Toronto (playing in a different country, astroturf instead of grass, the poor 2019 results and the rebuild, sacculacophobia*, etc) Personally, I think that the true answer is somewhere in between – players *would* consider Toronto and the Jays, but would expect a premium to come here.
Toronto Blue Jays
Which leads me to a thought experiment. Say (“for the sake of the argument“) that the premium that a player would demand to come to the Great White North would be an extra year at the same average annual value (AAV) as the existing contract. So, for example, Kyle Gibson signed at 3/$30 million with the Rangers, for an AAV of $10m. Suppose the Jays could have got him, but it would have cost 4/$40m. If you were the Jays, would you have wanted him at that price?
Here are some other examples:
Zack Wheeler signed with the Phillies for five years and $118 million. Would you have offered 6/$142m?
Yasmani Grandal signed with the White Sox for 4/$73m. Would you have gone 5/$91m?
Will Smith signed with the Braves for 3/$40m. Should the Jays have offered 4/$53m?
Jose Abreu re-signed with the White Sox for 3/$50m. Is he worth 4/$67m?
Michael Pineda re-signed with the Twins for 2/$20m. Should the Jays have gone 3/$30m?
Mike Moustakis got 4/$64m from the Reds. Is he worth 5/$80m?
Drew Pomeranz signed with the Padres for 4/$34m. Should the Jays have offered 5/$42m?
Chris Martin got 2/$14m from the Braves. Would you do 3/$21m?
Most of these players are less-than-enticing at these prices (an old Wall Street financier once said “There are no good stocks or bad stocks. Only underpriced and overpriced ones.”). The only one that I might have done is Pineda at 3/$30m, only because his upside is so high, but given the risk I might well have come to regret it.
The bottom line
Clearly, this is a simplified experiment. The Jays could (in theory) have attracted any of these players though other incentives – performance bonuses, opt-outs, no-trades, higher AAVs, you name it. And there are some fans who believe an additional year to be far too high, and say that an extra five million on top of the existing contract would have been sufficient. But if you play my game of +1 year, how many of these players would you have wanted?
* the psychological fear of milk in bags