There are reports that super-agent Scott Boras is trying to speed up the market ahead of the expiring CBA, which is certainly an interesting development. Depending on whether Boras and his crew can succeed in doing such a thing, I’m curious to see if it will have much or any effect on the Blue Jays’ plans this winter.
To explain what’s going on I’ll point you to ESPN’s Jeff Passan who was responsible for the news of Boras’ newest strategy. We don’t know all of the details behind their motivation, but I think we can make some educated guesses. There have been multiple reports that the league is looking to put some sort of spending cap in place, and all kinds of creative solutions to coming up with a “value” for players in modern baseball.
What makes sense to me is that Boras sees that the game is trending younger these days, and that’s not necessarily for the best for his clients when it comes to modern day free agency. For example, a player like Marcus Semien, who just so happened to sign up with Boras recently, is 31 years old. Who knows how a new CBA could affect someone like Semien, but with the player’s association angling to get better pay for younger players, there may be concessions in other areas. If that’s the case, it makes sense that they’d prefer to get the veteran under contract before the current system expires in order to maximize earning potential.
Which brings me back to the Blue Jays and wondering if this will affect their offseason plans much. There is an argument that it could go either way, but in my mind I don’t think it’s going to create a greater sense of urgency.
What we’ve seen from Ross Atkins and his front office team over the last five years has been anything but a hasty approach (with the exception of the ill-fated signing of Kendrys Morales in late 2016). It’s possible that they could make an exception for a player they know and love like Semien, but I’m not betting on that happening, especially now that Boras is involved and the price is sure to be sky-high. Instead, I’d point to the way that Atkins and company have handled things over the last number of years, which has been to leave no stone unturned.
Blue Jays fans have gotten used to hearing rumours like, “The Blue Jays have checked in on _____” with nearly every notable player that becomes available in free agency, and also through the trade market. Naturally agents and other teams will look for feasible options to float in the rumour mill in order to build leverage, but I believe that the Jays are truly checking in on most situations anyway.
With such a busy market ahead this winter, I have a hard time seeing the Jays jumping the gun even if it would give them some certainty in an offseason that looks like it’s headed for chaos. They do have the available payroll space to make impact moves, but they also have an interesting lens to look through as far as balancing the immediate and long-term future. As much as it seems like a no-brainer to spend somewhere in the neighbourhood of 50 million per year to retain Semien and Robbie Ray, they’re not the only stars that will need new contracts over the next few years. Jose Berrios will be a free agent after the 2022 campaign. Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. after 2023, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette after the 2025 seasons, so they can only make so many long-term, big-dollar commitments.
It wouldn’t shock me if Atkins signed someone to a smaller deal before the next CBA is in place, but my money is on the Blue Jays waiting things out to get a better sense of the next market, especially for top of the market players like Semien. That may mean that they could miss out on one or two high-end targets that they’d like to pursue, but the Blue Jays have been very patient over the last few years and I don’t expect that to change at the moment.