The writers of JFtC got together and offered suggestions for the Toronto Blue Jays and how they should spend estimated remaining money
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Fans of the Toronto Blue Jays must be going crazy while the MLB Lockout continues. We all know that big moves are still to come, but not until a new collective bargaining agreement can come to life. Until then, we’ll have to be satisfied with dreaming on what could be. To that end, Darragh McDonald of MLBTR put out an interesting look at spending $30M of the Blue Jays’ money. In short, $30M was decided upon since it would put the club at a total of $170M, which is a conservative guess as to where they could end up.
It is a recommended read based on a fun little exercise. In fact, it sparked some ideas of the writers here at Jays From the Couch and we offer up our own ideas for spending $30M. Of course, this is not an exact science and there could be more that goes into this discussion than in other years. This exercise assumes that all of these players will sign for the amounts listed on MLBTR with no Canadian premium, that they all agree to be fully vaccinated, that there are no visa issues, etc etc. Enjoy and feel free to offer up your own.
Steve Fek: $30 Million fun money options: Sign Seiya Suziki 5 yrs/55mil (11 AAV) Sign Yusei Kikuchi 2 yr/20mil (10 mil AAV) Reports have become more regular that the Jays are the favorite to sign left-handed Kikuchi. While his post-All Star performance might seem troublesome (6.68 ERA and moved to bullpen in September), Kikuchi could be utilized as a once-a-week starter. Atkins has already said Pearson will be used out of the bullpen to start 2022 in a role he called “close to a starter” so a piggy-back option could optimize Kikuchi performance.
Suzuki is most dynamic lineup upgrade left on market. Jays do not need him to duplicate his 38 homer performance for Hiroshima-he displays great plate discipline, will be an extra base machine, and is a superior with the glove and on the base paths. Having another countryman in the clubhouse will benefit both kikuchi and Suzuki as they adjust to a new city and country.
TRADE Julian Merryweather, Adam Kloffenstein, Santiago Espinal and Kevin Smith to MARLINS for 3B Brian Anderson (4.5mil arbitartion estimate) and LHP Jesus Luzardo (575k pre-arb). Kloffenstein is probably the best pitching prospect in Toronto’s organization, but is strong-willed and has criticized analytical approach to pitcher workload. Just as Chris Archer was jettisoned while Atkins oversaw minor league operations in Cleveland, Kloffenstein may be on the block in Toronto. Merryweather would answer bullpen question for Marlins, Espinal could share 3B with Joey Wendle while Smith can back up all 4 infield positions. Brian Anderson had been a +2.0 DRS third basemen prior to his shoulder injury in 2021 and has also played 1B and the outfield corners in the majors. Jesus Luzardo is still only 23, but his horrible 2021 season presents question marks. He has been a rotation anchor and price of acquisition makes him worth a gamble. SUZUKI 11mil + KIKUCHI 10 mil + trade value +$3.25 mil =$24.25 mil. Which leaves $5 mil to add bullpen arms
Jim Scott: My answer to the $30m question: trade Lourdes Gurriel Jr.+ Santiago Espinal + Trent Thornton for Matt Chapman (net cost in 2022 = $3m). Then sign Kikuchi ($10m AAV) + Suzuki ($11m) + Ryan Tepera ($6m).
Rob McNaughton: Putting on the armchair GM hat here, where I can add $30 million in salary while making only one more trade. First, I’m bolstering the bullpen, spending another $10-15 million on one-year deals for 1 to 2 players. There’s a plethora of these pitchers available (Tepera/ Chad Kuhl/ Chris Martin/Adam Ottavino…)
My trade is no blockbuster and is quite tame. I am quite comfortable going into the season with the core of the team as is, and will use the trade deadline to fill in whatever space is lacking. With that said, I’m going to add about another $7.4 million in salary in a trade with the Royals. Brad Keller and Adalberto Mondesi for Anthony Kay (or another high minor starter like Zach Logue or Thomas Hatch) and Otto Lopez.
I bolster the back-end of the rotation with a bounce back candidate in Keller and I add a solid defender that can play semi-regularly. I add some major league experience in case of a long-term injury to Bo Bichette or Cavan Biggio. The Blue Jays seem to have a knack with helping guys reduce their K-rate; adding Mondesi now to work with the staff may pay dividends in 2023.
Depending on the bullpen, I’ve about $7.5-12.5 million left. A reunion with Corey Dickerson would make sense; a LHB who hits the strong side of the platoon. With no contract prediction anywhere, last year’s salary of $7 million plus some of the cushion, should be sufficient, while Josh Palacios is DFA to make room.
Karen Soutar: My $30 plan is to trade for Matt Chapman + one of Sean Manaea/Frankie Montas/Chris Bassitt (the As starting pitchers) + sign Seiya Suzuki. Chapman and those pitchers are all arbitration eligible. Including their projected salaries, that’s about $30 million right there. My proposal on who to trade away to acquire those guys is Jordan Groshans, Alejandro Kirk (which may require a 3 team trade since Oakland already has Sean Murphy) and Randal Grichuk + part of his salary (half?). Whatever they save on Grichuk’s salary they can spend on a bullpen upgrade.
Bob Ritchie: Actually, I endorse Jim’s proposal. Good outfielders (offense and defense) are difficult to find. I thought about switching Dickerson for Suzuki, which would have left space to acquire Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline. However, I am wary of Dickerson’s 2020 and 2021 expected batting stats. With the Gurriel Jr. trade, the Jays can fit Suzuki under the CBT threshold. Even if Suziki’s bat does not quite meet expectations, his corner-outfield defense is projected to be better than average.
Shaun Doyle: I’ve been pounding the Matt Chapman drum for a very long time, so I will stick with that. MLBTR projects Chapman to see $9.5M in arbitration, which is a cost the Blue Jays can handle just fine. I’d love to make the deal and include Grhichuk, but I don’t think Oakland is in need of an outfielder…or THAT particular outfielder. I would offer Groshans, Kloffenstein, Trent Thornton and Kevin Smith for Chapman. I agree with Rob that the offense is just fine as is, so an addition of Suzuki or a Kris Bryant would be superfluous to me.
I would then sign Kikuchi for MLBTR’s 2yrs/$20M. That would set the Blue Jays up with a solid rotation, 5 deep. I would then look to add pitching depth, arms that can provide multiple innings if they have to, but can take a spot in the bullpen. One option that has some intrigue is Ryan Yarbrough of the Rays. His projected $4.4M in arbitration might be enough for Tampa Bay to deal him. Matthew Boyd is another intriguing option. So is Collin McHugh. Regardless, of the remaining ~$10M, I would look to sign some minor league deals to possibly find a bullpen arm there. I would not be looking at the upper tier of relievers. I would also be fine starting the season with that $10M in my pocket and saving it for the summer deals that will come.
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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.