The Toronto Blue Jays have some easy decisions regarding player arbitration coming and some a little more difficult ones
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The Toronto Blue Jays have a total of 12 players that will be heading for arbitration this winter. While the prospective CBA negotiations may have an impact on any contracts, the fact remains that some decisions will need to be made regarding who to keep and who to…not keep. Some of those decisions will be very easy. Others may result in some guys being removed from the 40 man roster.
Here is the total list and projected salaries for the 12 headed to arbitration via MLBTR:
When you look at the list, some very easy decisions pop out at you. It is no surprise to see Vladimir Guerrero Jr.getting a big raise, not after the 2021 season he had. And, it’s not like Toronto is about to non-tender him. Easy decision. So, too, is the decision to pay Teoscar Hernandez. A $10M salary in 2022 (assuming an extension is not worked out before then) should be a no brainer. The Blue Jays are playing Randal Grichuk that much and he produces much less than Teo. Of course, Grichuk has better defense, but if they’re willing to pay him $10M, then Teoscar can plan for a new house or car.
Considering the need for pitching, Stripling should also be an easy decision. Sure, on paper, his season didn’t end up well and his ‘back of the baseball card’ numbers are not appealing, but the Blue Jays are sure to believe in his in season adjustments and pay him $4M. Jose Berrios presents an easy decision as well. Obviously, they didn’t give up Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson to end up non-tendering him. He’ll be back and will get paid whatever he wants. The real discussion around Berrios is whether the club can convince him to avoid free agency and sign an extension.
Names like Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards and Tim Mayza should also be easy decisions. The bullpen issues Toronto suffered through this season show just how important it is to have quality arms in the bullpen. They’ve shown they are that and are very cheap in a world where top relievers are getting $15M a season.
However, some might look at names like Cavan Biggio and Danny Jansen and wonder if those are easy decisions. Firstly, in the world of baseball, $1.5M is nothing. So, deciding if a guy who put up an OBP of .299 (Jansen) or -0.1 fWAR (Biggio) really isn’t that difficult. We know Biggio was hurt for most of the season and had to deal with learning a position that is called The Hot Corner. No easy task. And, Jansen may have been a little light with the bat, but his Def rating at Fangraphs is 6.4, which is why the Blue Jays will pay him.
JFtC’s Karen Soutar has expressed what we all are thinking: keep the 2021 team together as much as possible. However, there are two names on that list that may not be back. Firstly, Jacob Barnes. The 31 year old Barnes is projected by MLBTR to see $1.2M, which is not very much, but when you consider how effective his 2021 was, there should be hesitation. In 28.2 innings, he managed a 6.28 ERA, allowed 20 runs, a WHIP of 1.47. He did collect his share of strike outs, but also managed a HR/9 of 2.2 thanks to 7 long balls. The Blue Jays could use $1.7M elsewhere. Barnes’ 2021 season has ‘non-tender’ written on it. He could see a minor league deal this winter.
The more painful (but easy) decision is regarding Ryan Borucki. He is the longest serving Blue Jay and has seen his share of injuries, which have caused inconsistency. In fact, after tossing 97.2 innings in 2018, Borucki has only seen 6.2 IP, 16.2 IP and 23.2 IP in each of the next three season respectively. In 2021, he saw 11 walks and 13 earned runs. One might say that it was very telling when, at the end of the season, the club sent him back down to AAA. They didn’t see a spot for him in a late season push and didn’t let him finish the season with the big league club, even after plunking Kevin Kiermaier. Maybe even more so than Barnes, Borucki is an easy non-tender decision.
Now, that does not mean that Borucki or Barnes are done as Blue Jays. In the case of Borucki, for whom we’ve all been rooting for years, it would be great if Toronto could bring him back on a minor league deal, keeping the 40 man roster spot open for an offseason addition. Ideally, Borucki would agree to a MiLB deal and work his way back to the big leagues in a Blue Jays uniform. Writing it here is much easier than it playing out that way, but it makes sense since it seems that, even at $800k, the roster spot could be better used. That said, Toronto had better jump at the chance to bring him back on a minors deal.
Having 12 players heading to arbitration looks like a lot and could result in some busy times for the Blue Jays’ front office. However, despite the process of agreeing to terms, it should be a rather easy period for them. There are a lot of easy decisions to be made and at least 10 of the 12 who are likely to return. The other two, while not likely to return, look to be easy decisions at least.
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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.