dioner navarro seeks trade after martin signing. jays suggest dh-c combo but theres interest. http://t.co/jtHQoK0Eo6
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) November 20, 2014
Are the Blue Jays bidding the price on a guy they think the Red Sox really want?
Are they trying to show the league that they’re serious about continuing to flex their financial muscle?
If so, great! Go nuts being “in the mix” for Pablo Sandoval, as Ken Rosenthal tweeted on Wednesday night that they indeed are.
If the intention is to actually sign Sandoval to a massive, long-term deal, though, let’s maybe think about this for just a second.
Yes, Sandoval is a three-time World Series winner, and the metrics on him suggest he’s a much better defender than looking at the ample amount of material required to make his pants might suggest — he’s posted a positive UZR in three of four years, and done so by DRS in three of five. Though a concern, the stints he’s spent on the DL since graduating to the big leagues in 2008 haven’t necessarily had anything to do with his weight (surgery on both wrists, a left thigh strain, and a left foot problem), and he’s been a very productive hitter, posting a 122 wRC+ in his career by way of a .294/.346/.465 slash.
He’s projected to produce with the bat at that level again, as Steamer has him putting up 3.6 WAR with a .281/.337/.451 line in 2015. And he’ll play next season as a 28-year-old. A five-year deal — which Rosenthal tells us the Jays won’t go beyond, quite likely making this a moot issue regardless (if it wasn’t already by virtue of the fact that they’re the Jays) since Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says Sandoval is seeking six years at $20-million per — would see him through just his age-32 season.
Maybe the weight, then, won’t be as big an issue, given his relative youth. It’s impossible to say, because, as Brian MacPherson notes in an excellent Providence Journal piece on some of the red flags on a player the Red Sox are also known to be pursuing, “we don’t really know exactly what Sandoval weighs,” and “because player weights are hard to pin down, we don’t have enough data to know how the heaviest players age.”
“Common sense says that signing Sandoval into his late 30s seems like a mistake,” he concludes. “Signing Sandoval through age 32 or age 33, however, might not be.”
All massive free agent contracts require risk, so it’s not unreasonable to think a team could get over those issues. If only they were the lone concern.
In addition to offers by San Francisco and Boston, Pablo Sandoval is expected to receive an offer from the Blue Jays in next 24 hours.
— Nick Cafardo (@nickcafardo) November 19, 2014
McCown: I’m told the Blue Jays haven’t said no yet to the seven year term required to get Lester. They’re thinking about it.
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) November 19, 2014
INF Juan Francisco has been claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox.
— Blue Jays-Official (@BlueJays) November 19, 2014
Hotstove season remains in full swing, and should continue to intrigue us at least until its traditional pre-Winter Meetings grinding to a halt for U.S. Thanksgiving, which is a week from Thursday. So let’s put a Jays-related spin on what’s being whispered out there, thanks to the great work of the utterly invaluable MLB Trade Rumors…
Before we get into all the rumblings from around the league, a couple non-MLBTR notes:
The Jays have announced that tomorrow they’ll introduce Russell Martin at a press conference here in Toronto. Fun! And via Soundcloud we have a clip of John Gibbons talking about the deal on MLB Network Radio.
Remember that thing Bob McCown was saying about Jon Lester? Um… about that. Here’s something from Monday afternoon that came to use over the course of a pair of tweets from Peter Gammons: “Anthopolous figures Martin impacts about half his roster, loves the leadership, better contact rates. ‘What we do now will probably be trades. We’ll check in on Lester, but we won’t go to six years, and we know we won’t be in.'” So… there’s that.
Don’t go thinking too ill of Alex Anthopoulos just yet though. At least not until you check out this quote from Dave Cameron on yesterday’s edition of FanGraphs Audio: “I think if you include any kind of positive valuation for framing, it seems to be fairly easy to see Martin as a four-win player. And if you think what four-win players at other positions get — Jacoby Ellsbury got $150-million last year; Shin-Soo Choo’s a three-win player and got $140-million? — you know? Eighty-million dollars for a four win player in today’s day in age is a pretty good deal, even for an aging guy who might not be able to play 120 games behind the plate for that much longer.”
Nails much? Now on to the MLBTR stuff…
Just in case AA’s bluffing or something’s changed, we’d better keep an eye on Lester rumours anyway, and in the latest we’re told that the Red Sox have made an offer to their former ace. He “is expected to take his time considering the proposal, and still has several other clubs with significant interest to explore,” yet he also “seems to be the top starter whose market is moving fastest at present.” The Jays are still listed among those with interest — and it’s suggested that the Yankees may have some, as well. It sure would be a hell of a thing to snatch him away from one of those clubs, but at this point I wouldn’t hold my breath. And I especially wouldn’t hold my breath on Pablo Sandoval — who the Jays were linked to earlier in the month — as it’s also noted that the Red Sox are being quite aggressive on him, too. Would completely love to see the Massholes strike out and Panda go back to San Francisco, eh?
Very interesting stuff from Tuesday night’s edition of Prime Time Sports on the Fan 590 here in Toronto, as noted in the Presented Without Comment… below this post, in which Bob McCown offered his take on the conversations he says he’s been privy to within the halls at Bloor and Jarvis, and what his understanding is of how new CEO Guy Laurence intends to do business with respect to the Jays.
In short: if true it’s very, very, tremendously good news for Jays fans.
The key points: the club wants to spend — they’ve already budgeted for an increase — and ownership is willing to go over-budget if the right deal comes along. Better still, the club specifically wants Jon Lester, but is concerned about the seven-year term he’s asking for. That would almost seem to be more a Beeston concern, though — i.e. the policy — as Rogers, if we’re to believe it, sees tremendous value in repairing their reputation, and thinks that standing behind a well-funded, successful Blue Jays club could be a great way to help do so.
Don’t just take my word for it, though. Here is the full quote from near the beginning of the segment you can hear here, as McCown lays a bunch of inner-workings stuff on co-host Ken Reid before, just as quickly as our nugget of a tangent began, the conversation slips back into typical Toronto radio hockey talk nonsense.
McCOWN: The Blue Jays’ payroll will go up this year. How much is unclear. But there may not be a real limit to it. There’s a real sense that the new CEO of Rogers Communications — Rogers Rogers… whatever it is (it’s not “Rogers Communications”)… the big company — Guy Laurence, the big enchilada. I’m sort of… I’m making some assumptions here, so I don’t want to say this is a fact, but it seems as if he recognizes the potential importance to the corporation of the Blue Jays — perhaps more than the previous administrator. And also understands that the Blue Jays can be a conduit in improving the image of this company.
Some have suggested that — not I, but… — that Rogers is among the most disliked corporations in the country. And it’s understandable, because we get services from Rogers, and any time something goes wrong with those things, we feel like that’s who we have to blame. Now, if you’re with Bell, for example, and your phone doesn’t work or your cable goes down — well, they don’t have cable or whatever it is they have — or any of their other services — their internet services — you get mad at them. So, let’s face it, Rogers is a big, big company. So it’s understandable. But I think this CEO is trying to address that — understands that one of the ways that you curry favour with your clientele is with a product like the Toronto Blue Jays.
REID: So you produce a winning team and everybody loves the owner. Which we see in pretty much every team that wins. Is that what you’re getting at?
McCOWN: I’m alluding to that. And nobody’s told me that exactly, but the inference has been there that if there’s a deal on the table that would take the Blue Jays beyond the increase they’ve already budgeted for, there’s a confidence level that there’d be no issue whatsoever. Like the Jon Lester deal. And what I’m told about Lester is: money isn’t the issue. The Blue Jays are prepared to pay him market value — what he’s looking for. It’s years. He wants seven years.
REID: That would be going against the five year plan. But would this — I’ll call it a P.R. move — would that be enough to bend it?
McCOWN: I don’t know whether this is the deal you break the egg on.
REID: They’re going to have to break that egg at some point. I don’t know if it’s this year, but at some point you’re going to have to just realize that the price of doing business is as much term as it is money — because term is money. I’ll take $20-million a year, but I want it for eight years, not for five, so… that’s 60-million bucks.
So… weird. It’s like I’m getting deja vu here, and not just because I’ve whined forever about how all the talk we hear about term in these free agent dealings is just a shorthand for more money — as in: Russell Martin didn’t choose the Jays because he really wanted a five year deal more than a four-year one, he did so because the five-year pact was worth $82-million, and the four-year one was topping out around $70-million.
No, I’m getting deja vu because it’s like so much of what’s being talked about here is lifted straight from Kelly Pullen’s October Toronto Life cover story on Edward Rogers III, as well as — if I do say so myself — my own thoughts pivoting off Pollen’s work (which you can see by way of last night’s Presented Without Comment…, in the bottom post at this link).
Bob McCown just said that their is a sense that new CEO Guy Lawrence wants to improve the image of Rogers and he wants to do that by (1/2)
— Angelo (@TdotsFinest11) November 18, 2014
Improving the Jays and putting a winning team on the field. Also mentioned money is not an issue at all (1/2)
— Angelo (@TdotsFinest11) November 18, 2014
OK, one comment: Sounds like stuff I was writing about Laurence last month. See the post at the bottom here (sorry I don’t have a better link right now).
You ain’t gonna diiiiieeeeee, say the freakin’ woooooorrrrrds!
Still plenty of Jussell Martin stuff coming in, and we’ll start with the man who — inadvertently? — broke the story of the Jays signing, Peter Gammons, who quite interestingly looks at the historic difficulty the Jays have had in enticing free agents. “It’s hard to get players to come here by choice,” said the Jays’ GM, “and Toronto is one of the greatest cities in the world.” That GM? Pat Gillick.
Elsewhere at Gammons Daily, David Golebiewski looks at the premium the Jays just paid for pitch framing, and shows an interesting chart demonstrating the difference between the percentage of strikes called on in-zone pitches caught by Martin last year, and by Dioner Navarro. For the three squares in the low part of the zone Navarro’s percentages were 56%, 66%, and 70%. And for Martin? 74%, 85%, and 83%. Think a guy like Aaron Sanchez, who is going to be relying on low strikes, isn’t going to be helped by a thing like that?
Tyler Kepner of the New York Times writes that “if Martin helps the Blue Jays to the playoffs, he could be hailed as a hero in Canada, his native country. Toronto has the longest active playoff drought in the majors, stretching to its World Series title in 1993, but signing Martin is not a move for public relations, or for the short term.”
Martin was the subject of a segment of last night’s Effectively Wild podcast at Baseball Prospectus, where it was noted that he is already the tenth best catcher of all time according to the Baseball Reference version of WAR. Nails much?
Jonah Keri also reacted to the trade over at Grantland, offering these words of caution: “The Pirates, one of the most analytically inclined teams in baseball, likely thought long and hard about catcher age curves in deciding how aggressively they wanted to pursue Martin, a vital player for Pittsburgh in 2014 who deserved serious consideration as a down-ballot MVP candidate. As excellent Pittsburgh Tribune-Review scribe Travis Sawchik recently wrote: Once you strip out anomalous results from the PED era, few players age well once they reach their mid-thirties, and that’s particularly true for catchers.” Hmmm.
WHYGAVS — aka Pirates blog Where Have You Gone Andy van Slyke? — writes a farewell and thank you to Russell Martin. Read it.
That one came my way by way of a tweet from GROF, who himself gives us a must-read take on the Martin signing over at Ghostrunner On First. Read it, too.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports was the first to get the dirt on the salary structure of Russell Martin’s new five-year, $82-million contract, tweeting on Tuesday morning that the yearly breakdown is as follows: $7-million, $15-million, $20-million, $20-million, $20-million.
Make no mistake about it, this is a very, very good thing.
Yes, yes, the natural reaction of the garbage clown, of course, will be to insist that Alex Anthopoulos is leaving a mess for his successor, and that Martin will be that much more difficult to trade. These are not even necessarily untrue points, especially if the 2015 season and the contract both ultimately turn sour.
But please. The positive far outweighs the negative here. Like really, really obviously.
First of all, the average annual value of Martin’s deal is $16.4-million, so by paying him $20-million in the final three years of the deal they’re not actually adding that much to his salary. Sure, they’re his decline years, where the gap between his value and his cost is widening, and that might make it more difficult to move him, or might require the Jays to spend more money to do so. But by the simple fact that they’ve given him this deal the Jays are betting on Martin as an athlete and a guy able to stay healthy and productive, so shying away from big outlays at the back end doesn’t really make sense.
Sure, in an ideal world you’d be paying him less money in the years when he’s expected to provide less value, but this is hardly an ideal world, and the Martin contract has actually been structured to fit the Jays’ salary commitments quite perfectly.