It Won’t Be Easy To Make Good On Payroll Promises If The Jays Run Out Of Free Agents To Spend On

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The Canadian dollar closed the day on Monday at 85.8 cents US. “CIBC economists, in a new currency outlook,” according to a Globe and Mail piece last week, “forecast that the loonie will sink to about 85.5 cents by early next year, then edge lower in the second quarter and then close in on the 81-cent level by the third quarter.”

Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays continued to sit on their hands as other MLB jump full-on into the free agent market.

Chase Headley signed with the Yankees for four years and $52-million. Jed Lowrie returned to Houston for three years and $23-million. Jason Motte went to the Chicago Cubs on a $4.5-million one-year deal with incentives. Brett Anderson signed an incentive-laden one-year deal with the Dodgers with a base salary of $10-million. Alex Rios has signed with the Royals for one year and $11-million.

And, of course, over the weekend, Melky Cabrera signed with the Chiago White Sox for three years and $42-million.

Taken individually, that the Jays passed on all of these players at these prices — or whatever extra we might think it would have taken to get them to Toronto — is pretty defensible. But taken in concert, all of the above facts, along with ownership’s history of dispassionately slashing or freezing payroll at the expense of their own product, and fans start to worry.

Add it to rumblings from someone like Bob McCown that “the team lost a fair bit of money last year, and Rogers wasn’t thrilled” — for whatever little those are worth, given that less than three weeks before he was saying there may not be a real limit to payroll, and that Rogers’ aim was to use their ownership of the club to help burnish their reviled brand — and machinations behind the possible ouster of Paul Beeston as team president, and you get where the fan vitriol that again seems to be strongly pushing through the surface of the conversation about the club  is coming from.

What role any of this stuff has in the Jays quiet few weeks is hard to pinpoint. The idea that the team is losing money is, of course, preposterous, unless one isn’t factoring in the TV rights fees Rogers doesn’t have to pay to itself. Any time the dollar is mentioned someone will be quick to point out that a big company like Rogers will be hedged against currency fluctuations, but to what extent that will help spare them… nobody seems to have any idea. Alex Anthopoulos could very well be slow-playing the market, especially when it comes to pitching. He could also be be losing out on guys who’d rather be in other situations — Lowrie, if the Jays even wanted him, staying near his Houston home and taking advantage of Texas’s lack of a state income tax and Motte choosing the Cubs — or to teams with less margin for error, as in the Dodgers and Anderson (whose $10-million salary means a whole lot less on their books than it would tied to Alex’s neck).

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Toritani Offered Shortstop Position By Padres Says Japanese Report

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It may be the San Diego Padres who end up winning the mini-sweepstakes to land Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani. That’s just a guess, mind you, but it’s one based on the fact that a report from Sanspo, via Yahoo! Japan, says that the San Diego Padres would be looking to bring Toritani to North America to play his natural position, shortstop.

The Jays, of course, only have interest in him as a second baseman.

Sure, money ultimately could change his mind — and you don’t hire Scott Boras as your agent if you’re not thinking of money first and foremost — but at the moment that doesn’t necessarily bode well for the Jays either. And… well… add that to the fact that the west coast would likely be preferable to a player from San Diego, as well as that… y’know… it’s San Diego, and suddenly you maybe don’t like Alex Anthopoulos’s chances so much.

But again, the fact that he’s with Boras suggests that those peripheral factors may not exactly be paramount, and maybe he’s not as bothered by the idea of a position switch as I’m guessing. We shall see, I suppose — and perhaps soon, as earlier on Monday I passed along reports that a decision on where Toritani will play could come as soon as this week.

Here are some relevant passages from the Sanspo report, awesomely translated by Google, which of course also bring up the damn turf issue:

Padres is I was found to be presenting the “best conditions” for Toritani. I just found that we have been negotiating with Blue Jays, but was revealed comprehensively the story of the US baseball official, it’s the content. Rather than a second baseman, towards the major contract in the shortstop of the professional, and that are discussing.

. . .

Jed Jako infielder of the season from 6-year contract to second base (26), but the third base there are promising strain as Yanherubisu-Sorate infielder (27), hole of guerrilla vacant To gaping. So, I mean Toritani emerged.

Home Petco Park is also the burden to the foot small in natural grass. San Diego’s climate also livable in Japanese also warm and safe urban. Studied to Iguchi (now Lotte) is also a baseball team was a member of the 2008.

So… there’s that.

Crotch grab in the direction of Gideon Turk for passing along the article via Twitter.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The Daily Duce: Monday, December 15th

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Daily??!?

Jed Lowrie is off the market — not that there appeared to be much interest there from the Jays anyway, apart from speculation (or at least not that we heard of). Brian McTaggart had it first, while Evan Drellich tweets that it’s a $23-million deal for three years, which could go up to $28-million on a fourth. Pretty alright in terms of average annual value, but I don’t know how much I’d have wanted to go that many years with him. Likely a moot point anyway, as the Astros have reportedly signed him to be their shortstop — which he wanted — which may have meant the Jays and their offering of a second base spot wouldn’t have been seriously considered. (He also apparently lives in Houston, and the Astros had the whole no-state-income-tax thing working for them, too).

Lowrie could work out well for Houston and we might regret the Jays’ apparent lack of interest here, but I’m just not so sure: he’s had a tough time staying on the field, didn’t hit much in 2014, had a BABIP-driven good year at the plate in 2013, and without the BABIP was good in 2012, but with an ISO nearly double of what it was this year (though Oakland’s park surely factored into that). You could have talked me into it, too, I suppose, especially on a shorter-term deal. There are things to like there. It’s just… meh.

Gregor Chisholm tweets that his understanding is that the Jays didn’t feel Lowrie was a viable second base solution, so that this really doesn’t change anything.

Dan Johnson, who crushed at Buffalo last year and certainly wouldn’t have been a bad piece of left-hand hitting depth for the Blue Jays, has signed a minor league deal with the Astros, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

Elsewhere at Sportsnet, Jeff Blair looks at Melky Cabrera’s signing with the White Sox, suggesting that it was the Jays’ signing of Russell Martin that signalled the end of Melky’s tenure here, thought the club was still in contact with him at least until they dealt for Michael Saunders.

Speaking of Melky, Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs looks at what to expect from him going forward, and tries to make sense of how to handle his tumour-laden 2013 season — which, if not considered at all (as might entirely be fair, given, y’know, the tumour), makes the projection on him substantially better. There’s really nothing wrong with being upset that the Jays missed here.

The draft pick was surely part of the club’s calculation, and though the Jays and Melky aren’t singled out specifically, there was an interesting discussion on Monday’s Effectively Wild podcast at Baseball Prospectus on how draft picks are valued by clubs, with respect to the compensation process, and how they may actually be overvalued.

Taking a different view on the Melky deal than the bullish-seeming Sullivan is Keith Law, who at ESPN.com writes that Cabrera “has had only two seasons in which he performed at the level this deal seems to assume, the second of which, 2012, was cut short by a 50-game suspension for a positive testosterone test — and both of which featured abnormally high batting averages on balls in play.” There are pluses that he points out, he just thinks it’s too much money.

Back to FanGraphs has published the ZiPS projections for the Oakland A’s, which comes with a list of the number one comp for each player. Brett Lawrie’s? Arquimedez Ponzo.

Laugh at the comp all you want, but Lawrie might actually be awesome. Kaitlyn McGrath of the National Post fills us in on how he surprised a young fan whose emotional reaction to his being traded went viral. Kind of amazing.

Elsewhere in the Post, Erika Gilbert has an excellent rundown of the Jays’ positional needs, while Scott Stinson looks at payroll and asks the age-old question: should the Jays spend more.

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Toritani Decision Soon, Offers Likely One Year Plus Option

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By way of the outstanding NPB resource Yakubaka, we have some additional details beyond what was mentioned in the Presented Without Comment… post from last night on Hanshin Tigers shortstop (who would move to second base in North America) Takashi Toritani.

To wit:

Takashi Toritani is expected to give the Hanshin Tigers his final decision during their next meeting. He is said to be talking to the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres. Both teams might be willing to sign him to an MLB contract, but neither will likely go more than a year with a team option. Source: Sanspo 12/15/2014

Well that’s certainly not the three-year, $10-million deal that earlier reports out of Japan were saying would be required to pry him away from Hanshin — where, as I noted in a post on Saturday, his salary was ¥300-million, which works out to a little over $2.5-million US dollars.

Which isn’t to say that it’s necessarily an unfair offer. As much as I’m intrigued by the unknown and the improved plate discipline seen in his numbers over the past couple of seasons, let’s not go thinking the Jays would be getting a saviour if they add this guy to their second base mix.

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Hear This: Talkin’ Jays On The Radio – 12/15/14

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Melky Cabrera has defected to the Chicago White Sox, and in less than a month since the Blue Jays’ big free agent splash on Russell Martin, and their subsequent acquisition of Josh Donaldson, fans are starting to wonder again just what the hell is going on with payroll.

These topics are what I covered in a segment this morning on TSN Radio 1050 here in Toronto, on Macko And Cauz. Plus heteronyms, and so much more!

Have a listen to the segment here.

Image via Keith Allison/Flickr