Jon Heyman recently made a comment about the Toronto Blue Jays pursuit of J.D. Martinez and it couldn’t be more of an understatement
The Toronto Blue Jays are in need of a right fielder. J.D. Martinez is one. It is for that reason that you can’t blame some baseball writers for linking the two entities. The theory of supply and demand might even dictate it. But, for fans pinning their hopes on anything coming of this connection a wake up call is in order. Martinez is not signing in Toronto. More to the point, the Blue Jays are not paying him to.
In that vein, Jon Heyman offered up his take on where this pipe dream stands. The Fan Rag Sports scribe brings us the understatement of the winter: “[the Blue Jays] are probably rightly seen as an outsider in this pursuit.”
Hmmm. An outsider in the pursuit of a guy whose agent nicknamed him the “King Kong of Slug”; a guy who is rumoured to be seeking upwards of $200M? An outsider is the only position the Blue Jays could be, really. I mean, sure, the guy would be quite the replacement for the position vacated by the player that used to be Jose Bautista.
Martinez hit 45 home runs last year, 31 of which came in the second half of the season. He hit over .300 with an OBP of over .370 in each of the last two seasons. He’s put up 14.6 fWAR over the last 4 seasons. You can book him for 30 HR and 100 RBI should he play in the AL East. Sure, you’d have to accept the over 25% strike out rate, but that wouldn’t be too hard if he were mashing the Blue Jays through the division. Heck, you could make the argument that in order to keep up with the Yankees, pairing Martinez with Josh Donaldson would be well worth the money.
But, we’re talking about likely $25M per season for at least 5 seasons. That doesn’t sound like something the current front office is going to do…like, at all. Heyman points out that Mark Shapiro is not exactly forthcoming with major contracts: “Mark Shapiro doesn’t like to hand out big deals. When he was in Cleveland, Shapiro was one of the first to have a rule not to give more than 15 percent of the payroll to any one player, and he never signed a free agent there for more than $50 million.” That is not to suggest that Shapiro, as an individual, is the reason for Martinez not coming to Toronto.
The real reason is that it doesn’t make a lot of sense to hand out that kind of money in the context of Toronto’s current situation. They have Troy Tulowitzki‘s money, Russell Martin‘s money and Josh Donaldson‘s money all on the books for 2018. That is to say nothing of the fact that there very well could be a bunch more on the books with a Donaldson extension. There isn’t yet, but one has to think that if the Blue Jays have their druthers, they’d pay Donaldson for 4 more years before they bring in Martinez for 5. Donaldson plus a cheaper RF option might be just as appealing to this front office.
And, none of this is even taking into account the fact that signing a 5 year mega deal does not really fit into the window in which the Blue Jays find themselves. They could very well be one season away from shifting gears and letting youngsters take over. That might be bit dramatic, though. That point could come in a couple years. Regardless, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for the Blue Jays to make the kind of commitment Scott Boras wants if the team could be taking another direction soon.
None of this is to suggest that the Blue Jays won’t so something this winter. They will. It may not be happening at the speed we would like, but the methodology this winter has been to wait things out, as opposed to rushing deals. When you rush, you end up with Kendrys Morales. So, I don’t have a lot of patience for the complaints of this front office sitting on its hands and whatnot. There will be moves made.
But, this is not one of them. So, when Heyman says the Blue Jays are outsiders on this, he is understating things. For whatever reason, Toronto has been connected to Matinez. It is more than likely what the club would call “due diligence”. Ross Atkins probably has spoken to Boras about his client. But, we shouldn’t think the conversation lasted very long. Of course, there exists a very real possibility that the Blue Jays have shown no interest and they are being used to leverage a better deal.
Regardless, fans shouldn’t get too excited about seeing the Blue Jays and J.D. Martinez in the same sentence. Heyman is not whistling Dixie, the Blue Jays are definitely outsiders. They’re so far outside, they’re Greasers.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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