Rob Ford jokes are already passe. Sorry.
So... rumours are swirling around our Toronto Blue Jays. Some exciting, some troubling.
According to Bob McCown via AndrewStoeten.com (if you haven't figured out that Drunk Jays Fans is now Stoeten's eponymous site, that's the scoop. Go check it out), the top brass at Rogers are looking to repair the company's reputation by
not being liars having a consistent
approach to the team budget building a winner out of the Jays.
Meanwhile, there are other rumours (from Jeff Blair via The Blue Jay Hunter) that suggest that Rah Dickey might not be the best teammate out there. Considering that there were rumours about Rasmus's aloofness, and Adam Lind seemed to complain a lot, and those two are both gone or as good as gone... Dickey might be on the outs as well. It's a little disturbing to think that the guy the Jays built their 2012 renaissance around (and who they traded two top-50 prospects for) might be persona non grata, only 2 years later.
But nevermind that - it's daydreaming time, and there might be money to spend! Put those two points together, and let's look at some deals that would have seemed impossible 2 weeks ago.
1. Jon Lester to Blue Jays.
No, seriously, it could kind of work.
Two weeks ago, "Bahaha" would have been the end of this post. But if there is anything to Bob McCown's image-burnishing rumour, maybe the Jays could be in on Jon Lester and other expensive free agents. Which would be pretty exciting, to say the least.
Jon Lester has a lot of things going for him. He's pitched in the AL East, obviously. He's been durable - 30+ starts for 7 seasons. He's been effective - 33 fWAR in those same 7 seasons. And while his strikeout rate was on a slow decline prior to a resurgence last season, his walk rate has been dropping as well. The downside for Lester is his age, and the years he wants. He'll be 31 next season, and is apparently looking for a 6-year deal, at around $20MM/season (the Red Sox reportedly offered him 5/$100MM to come back, already).
So how could this work for the Jays? Well, they'd have to count on Lester being effective into his mid-30s, the way they're counting on Russell Martin to do the same, and the way Mark Buehrle has. Yes, it's a lot of money, but not that much if you can subtract Dickey's salary after signing Lester.
Trade Dickey? Sure. Dickey and Lester have carried similar workloads over the past 4 years, so Lester could effectively replace Dickey's innings. Lester also looks like a fairly significant upgrade to Dickey, by fWAR. And if you trade Dickey, you free up about $12MM for the next 2 years (assuming Dickey's 2016 option gets picked up) and you also free up a roster spot that won't have to go to Josh Thole. And finally, Dickey has some trade value attached to him - at $12MM/yr, he's a relative bargain for a pitcher who is capable of throwing 200+ above-average innings, and he could bring something half-decent back in trade. So, yeah, swapping Dickey out for Lester could be a big upgrade, at a net salary increase of only $8MM or so (until we get to 2017, but let's pretend not to think about that).
2. Pablo Sandoval to Blue Jays.
No, no, no.
I think Sandoval is a pretty fun player to watch, but he's another guy looking for 5 years and close to 20MM/yr. And consider this:
Sandoval, 2011-2014: 13.4 fWAR, .383/.338/.331/.323 wOBAs
Chase Headley, 2011-2014: 17.9 fWAR, .340/.378/.330/.316 wOBAs... and better defense.
Yes, Headley is 30, and Sandoval is 28. Headley is an injury risk, but I'd argue that when playing on Astroturf, the 5'11, 250-lb Sandoval is too. So if Sandoval wants 5 years, offer 3 years and the same AAV to Headley. I bet he signs.
And for that matter, if you sign Jed Lowrie or Stephen Drew, both of who are expected to go for 3yrs/30MM or so, you can keep Brett Lawrie at his preferred position (and his best defensive position). Best case for everyone? The Panda goes back to San Francisco.
3. Hanley Ramirez to Blue Jays.
Same objections as Sandoval, really, with the added negative of having to ask him to move off shortstop (or ask Reyes to move, which could be just as big of an issue). 12.3 fWAR and .317/.328/.442 (small sample)/.362 wOBAs over the last 4 years. Better bat than either Sandoval or Headley, but a suspect glove, and more injury prone than either one. Seriously, just get one of Lowrie/Drew/Headley.
4. Andrew Miller to Blue Jays.
Well, the performance of relief pitchers is supposed to be volatile (therefore making them risky investments) and the Jays made a point over the last few years of acquiring cheap bullpen arms (Delabar, Santos)… who didn’t work out. And now the Jays, having said goodbye to Casey Janssen and Dustin McGowan, may have come full circle and are apparently in the market to overpay for a reliever.
The first rumour I saw was Francisco Rodriguez to the Blue Jays. Kinda makes sense on the surface - the man once known as K-Rod is a so-called "proven closer", coming off a 44-save season in Milwaukee. Trouble is, his peripherals are lousy: declining strikeout rate, tons of home runs (1.85 per 9 innings), an unsustainably low BABIP (.216) and unsustainably high strand rate (93%). In short, Rodriguez's stats scream "Regression candidate!" So, overpaying for that closer seems like a bad idea.
Andrew Miller, on the other hand, has been pretty awesome. Since being made a full-time reliever in 2012, he's posted huge K rates, unpleasantly high walk rates that he seemed to get under control in 2014, and ERAs that aren't luck driven. He doesn't have significant splits between righties and lefties. He's the best free agent reliever out there who isn't David Robertson. MLBTradeRumors guesses that Miller will get a 4-year, 32MM deal. That's closer money - no, it might actually be starter money. Miller has been worth 3.5 fWAR over the last 4 year (including the 2.3 fWAR he produced last year). 4yrs/$32MM is an overpay at that performance level. In fact, Miller's 4 best years for his career only add up to 5.2 fWAR. Sure, he was great last year, but there's a good chance that he winds up a 1 WAR/yr kind of guy. If that happens, the only way to justify it is with a lot of saves.
So that's 4 dreams, 3 of them bad. But at the end of the day... it's not my money. So go ahead and try to buy our love, Rogers.