Jays From the Couch writers present a chat about whether the Toronto Blue Jays should extending their young stars
We’re back with another chat on The Couch. This time, an interesting discussion about the future of the young core the Toronto Blue Jays boast. With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and Danny Jansen all looking to be the basis for years of possible contention, the decision of whether to lock them up with long term deals has to be discussed.
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This conversation started from a comment from Jon Heyman about the Blue Jays soon becoming one of the Top 10 payrolls in MLB.
Shaun Doyle: That seems to be a thing year after year. It’s tough. The Rays keep winning despite it and the other 2 are not even close to the spending phase. BUT, they could be closer if they tried and it doesn’t seem like they are trying.
Mueller: In that piece it suggested the Pirates were leaning toward extensions for their young talent which would increase their payroll some but not enough. This is why I always laughed when fans s*** on the Blue Jays ownership.
Doyle: There was a time when the Blue Jays just refused to spend. That was frustrating. But, the current front office has earned the right for fans to shut up about spending. They’re building toward something and it is actually quite obvious. The incremental steps are clear and you can see where this is going. This is the first time in a LONG time we can say that.
Mueller: The true test will be if they can lock up one or two pieces of the ‘core’. I don’t expect they will get any of Bo, Vlad or Cavan to extend but they could convince a guy like Danny. If Bo/Vlad/Cavan wanted to borrow a cool million they just go to daddy. Danny doesn’t have that luxury.
Doyle: I’ve thought about that before. And, I think I agree with you. HOWEVER, daddy can’t prevent career ending injuries, or mystery drop offs in performance. We’ve seen those happen before. An extension may not be likely, but it’s possible.
Mueller: Very true. Anything is possible. Sure, Jansen looks good in the spring after a disappointing 2019, but the 2020 season hasn’t even started. What if he hits the same in 2020 than he did in 2019? What if Vlad never gets comfortable with ‘trying’ to generate a better launch angle and remains a poor defender at 3rd who can only hit .270 with 20 hr power. Good, but not great.
Karen Soutar: Everyone is just assuming that Bo, Vlad and Cavan would have no interest in a contract extension simply because their fathers made money playing in MLB. But we don’t really know this. It’s a very different thing making your own money and being able to decide for yourself what to do with that money than it is asking your parents for money. Guerrero Sr, for one, has eight children with five different women, or so I read. He may have made money but he also has lots of other things to spend it on.
Doyle: LOL. Very true. That man’s money is busy.
Mueller: Very true. It’s all speculation. We can look at Lourdes Gurriel Jr.who comes from Cuban baseball royalty. He signed a very team friendly, long term deal. I still think these young men are willing to bet on themselves rather than sign a discounted contract.
Doyle: Bo especially. Biggio could be under rated his whole career. He might consider it. Though, the way the market is going, you’d be leaving lots of money on the table to sign now.
Mueller: Maybe Cavan will look at his dad’s career, one team his entire career, and place a high value of being loved by an entire country… just like his dad did in Houston.
Soutar: We are also assuming an extension that would be offered would be team friendly. What if they offered good money? The Gurriel contract was team friendly in hindsight given what his talent now seems capable of. It was also a lot of money to commit to someone who never played professional baseball in North America at the time.
Doyle: Both good points. Traditionally, those extensions come down to cost control for the team and guaranteed money for the player. I can see why the team would do it. I’m having trouble seeing why these guys would do it. Your team trying to keep costs down tells you that you could make more either from them or another team down the road.
Mueller: Most of the time it comes down to making more money up front. These guys aren’t going to be rolling in dough for another three years so. If they could make more money now for discounted arbitration years, then that could make sense to them.
Doyle: That’s fair. So, do you take more now at the expense of more later? It’s entirely possible Bo, as an example, sees a Mookie Betts type arbitration award one day. Even if it isn’t $27M, it will be much more than what the team offers him now.
Mueller: Jose Altuve (touchy subject right now, I know), Ronald Acuna and Ozzie Ablies all signed long term deals which look like steals in hindsight, but it gave them the ability to make a lot of guaranteed money. The situation we’re talking about goes beyond that. They didn’t come from money. They can now support their families and are still young enough to sign a much higher AAV contract later.
Doyle: Well, Altuve first signed a deal for like $35k. So yeah, his makes sense.
Soutar: Right but again taking or borrowing money from Dad is very different than making your own money. And don’t forget Vlad Jr already has two kids of his own to help support.
Mueller: He also signed for like $5M and with a dad who hopefully knows a thing or two about investing, Jr has gained some financial security from that money. Same thing goes for Bo. Can’t remember what Cavan signed for. So many factors go into this. Does the player like the manager, the city, the front office, his teammates, etc.?
Doyle: That’s why it’s fun to talk about, but difficult to pin down an actual conclusion.
Pete McCombie: Very very interesting chat guys. One example I’ll give is the Yoan Moncada extension (where the ink isn’t dry). His signing bonus was $31.5M, so you could argue he would be the last to consider a team friendly contract. Yet inked a ￼ guaranteed deal with an option covering 1-2 years of FA. With Vlad/ Bo/ Cavan…you just never know if they’d be interested!
Soutar: Cavan Biggio signing bonus was $300,000 FYI.
Mueller: Thanks, Karen. That isn’t chump change but I’m sure he’d love to put a couple mill in the old savings account now rather than wait till 2022-ish. The front office will need to prioritize who gets what. Nate Pearson is going to be a huge target to lock up.
Doyle: I’d actually rather them extend Pearson. That is cost savings.
Mueller: I maybe agree with Pearson being priority…but as a rule isn’t it far more dangerous to extend pitching? I would sleep better with extending position players. As far as injury/ blowing up is concerned.
Doyle: Definitely more risky- we’re talking about a guy with very little professional experience.
Mueller: And a guy with screws holding his elbow together. But that risk has to be apparent to Nate as well. Making him more likely to take the money now than risk never getting paid.
McCombie: Another prime example: Luis Severino. People were ridiculing his decision to accept that extension…but you can see a pitcher’s motivation to accept.
Mueller: We don’t talk about the Yankees here…haha. Very good point. The Jays would surely use him as an example in discussions. All this is to say the front office has their work cut out for them to ensure this group stays together for what will turn into multiple long playoff runs. Hopefully a couple World Series banners being added in the outfield at the Roger’s Centre.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.