We take a look at the predictions MLBTR has for the Blue Jays and their offseason free agent spending. Are they realistic?
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The Toronto Blue Jays are likely to be mentioned in many free agent conversations thanks to the situation they find themselves in: young, talented, competitive with lots of money to spend. Recently, Gregor Chisholm opined that the Blue Jays will have a lot of cash to spend in free agency. In fact, after the extension of Jose Berrios, Chisholm suggests that they could have $50M to spend. Cot’s has them with an Opening Day, 26 man roster payroll of $113.4M and a Competitive Balance Tax total of $133M. With their payroll
rumoured estimated to reach as high as $180M, $50M seems like a good number.
Every year, MLBTR puts out predictions for the free agent class. They have suggested the Blue Jays will be the destination for a few players. I decided to take a look at them and see if they would be a, realistic and/or successful venture. For the purposes of this exercise, I will use any player that was mentioned signing in Toronto even once. I also use the MLBTR estimated deal length and value. Let’s get to it.
1) Robbie Ray– All three MLBTR contributors have Ray re-signing with Toronto for 5yrs/$130M. Obviously, we’ve seen some creative contract creation as evidenced in the Berrios deal, so it is possible that Ray can be signed and money can be manipulated by either front or back loading. With that said, the nature of trying to figure that out here would be a fool’s errand. So, we’ll assume that the AAV is split evenly among the contract. In fact, we’ll do that for every player mentioned here.
So, 5yrs/$130M provides Ray with $26M per season. If Toronto agreed ot that, they would be banking on Ray producing at or near his 2021 3.9 fWAR, or even his 3.3 fWAR from 2016/2017. It should be noted that Fangraphs lists Ray’s 2016/2017 being valued at ~$26M and his 2021 worth $31.5M. The MLBTR prediction isn’t crazy. The question is whether the Blue Jays think he can repeat something close to his Cy Young winning 2021, particularly in the front half of the deal. If they do, they’ll have $24M to spend.
2) Kyle Schwarber– MLBTR’s Steve Adams was the only one who had the Blue Jays signing Schwarber. The others listed the Rockies and the Nationals. If you’re Schwarber, you’d probably lean toward the chance to win in Toronto. They have him signing for 4yrs/$70M. Again, we will assume this is evenly spread over the life of the deal and it breaks down to $17.5M per season.
The 28 year old former catcher found a home in the outfield and enjoyed a rather nice season in Boston last year. He mashed 32 HR, put up a wRC+ of 145 and 3.1 fWAR from the left side of the plate. We know that Toronto could use a lefty bat, so his projected 35 HR in 2022 are certainly enticing. He won’t hit for a high average, but he does get on base and did I mention he mashes?
The real issue with Schwarber is his glove. According to Statcast, he was in the 1st percentile for OAA. In the outfield, he put up -10 OAA, so he is absolutely no upgrade defensively. In an attempt to get more out of his glove, you might be aware that he played some first base as well and someone has to relieve Vladimir Guerrero Jr. from time to time. Well, he put up -4 OAA at first.
Clearly, signing Schwarber would be for his bat and the Blue Jays have to ask themselves if they want to commit to a full time DH because they definitely wouldn’t be signing him for his defense. But, let’s say that things follow a certain path in other moves and an outfielder is required and they do sign him as predicted by Adams. Of the $24M that remains, $17.5M would go to him. That leaves $6.5M and Toronto still hasn’t added an infielder, which is what they’ve said multiple times they’re after.
3) Raisel Iglesias– Anthony Franco of MLBTR has Iglesias beefing up Toronto’s bullpen to the tune of 4yrs/$56M. The 31 yr old closer is coming off a season where he saved 34 games, striking out 37.7% of batters he faced on his way to a 2 fWAR season. There is no doubt that, if he can continue what he’s done over the last 5 or so season, the Blue Jays will have a powerful weapon to pair with Canadian incumbent Jordan Romano.
There is no knock on Iglesias to be brought into this discussion. Bullpen arms can be up and down and unpredictable, but Iglesias has a solid track record and would be an instant upgrade to the Blue Jays’ bullpen. His deal would work out to $14M per season. In an era where relievers are making that kind of money, it really is a deal that Toronto should not balk at. Heck, Aaron Loup just signed with the Angels, Iglesias’ former team, for $17M over two years. Is he really worth $8M a season? Maybe he’s bounced back to prove he is. If that is the case, $14M a season is not outrageous for Iglesias. But, if Toronto agrees, they would blow this proposed budget out of the water: $6.5M remaining – $14M AAV = -$7.5M.
4) Kenley Jansen– But, wait! There’s more. Two of the three MLBTR contributors have Jansen signing with the Blue Jays for 2yrs/$26M. He’s 34 years old and had somewhat of a bounce back season in 2021, saving 38 games and putting up an ERA of 2.22 and a 1.8 fWAR. He definitely has the track record of a great reliever, but would Toronto be willing to spend $13M on a 34 year old closer? Again, for fun, let’s say they decided that their efforts to bolster their rotation didn’t go as planned and they pivot to making up for that by building an uber ‘pen. -$20.5M on the offseason.
5) Kyle Seager– This is a name that has been tossed around a lot as a place holder to play the Hot Corner until someone like Jordan Groshans or Gabriel Moreno take the spot full time. 2 of the 3 MLBTR contributors have Seager signing in Toronto for 2yrs/$24M. An AAV of $12M. Seager is also 34 and coming off a season where he hit 35 HR, but got on base at an abysmal .285 clip. He is a lefty power bat and would look good in Toronto’s lineup. He would be a good defensive option since he put up 4 OAA last year. Looking at hsi career numbers, 2021 very well could have been a down year at the plate for him and he could bounce back to being more consistent. Paying him $12M per year would not be a huge gamble for a guy who will likely put up 2+ fWAR. -$20.5 – $12.5M = -$32.5M
6) Eduardo Escobar– This is another name that has been thrown around to play third. Obviously, if Toronto signs Seager above, then Escobar is no longer an option and vice versa. MLBTR has him getting $20M over 2 yrs, so slightly cheaper than Seager. He has experience all over the infield and put up positive OAA scores at second, but not third (-3 OAA). Escobar is a switch hitter, so there’s that. Overall, he has low on base numbers with slightly less power than Seager. Of the two, the Blue Jays would likely prefer Seager, but they could save (a projected) $2.5M by signing Escobar.
Obviously, not all of these players will be signed by the Blue Jays this offseason. The third base options show that clearly. And, what team spends a lot of money on two top end closers? As well, there is nothing that says Toronto sticks to the names found only in MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents. Finally, there is no reason to even have Kyle Schwarber on this list. The fit doesn’t seem all that natural.
With that in mind, here is an offseason shopping trip that would make sense for them:
These three additions could actually happen, but it might be a tad pricey for the Blue Jays’ front office. Personally, I could not care any less than I do right now about adding $52M in payroll for a chance to play in the playoffs in 2022. However, I will also acknowledge that spending this kind of money will have implications for years to come. But more than that, it may have implications for other possible moves this offseason or at the July Trade Deadline. We should also note that potential trades (Jose Ramirez or Matt Chapman, anyone?) could impact the needs and/or available money for spending on free agency. That said, there is money to spend and there are targets on which it can be spent. Let the good times roll.
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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.