10 Offseason Moves the Toronto Blue Jays Should Avoid at All Costs
The Toronto Blue Jays will return to the drawing board this offseason and look to address their shortcomings after failing to live up to the high expectations generated from their MLB best 24-7 spring record.
General Manager Alex Anthopoulos will look to reshape a roster that was inconsistent and later ravaged by the injury bug.
He has done a terrific job rebuilding the organization since taking over for former GM J.P Ricciardi in October 2009.
In no particular order, the organization has acquired Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek, Anthony Gose, Yunel Escobar, Colby Rasmus and highly touted prospect Travis D'Arnaud under his watch.
He has also stock piled the Blue Jays’ farm system with young talent. Last season, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (Toronto's Double-A affiliate) won the Eastern League title.
In addition, he was able to dupe the Los Angeles Angels into trading for Vernon Wells and his colossal contract.
The Blue Jays haven't made the playoffs since winning the World Series in '92 and '93, and the city is starving for a competitive team.
Perhaps Anthopoulos' biggest challenge as GM awaits him this offseason: Pressure to win.
Here's a list of 10 players that the Jays could be pressured to pursue.
A quick glance at the 2012 free agent market and Kevin Youkilis' name stands out.
He can be a productive player when he’s in the lineup, but durability has never been his thing.
His history with injuries is lengthy, and the Blue Jays certainly had their share in a disappointing 2012 season.
His career numbers at the Rogers Centre are also mediocre as he’s accumulated a .258 average with seven homers and 22 RBI through 61 games (229 at-bats).
The Chicago White Sox are unlikely to exercise a $13 million team option for 2013—making the 33-year old a free agent.
Francisco Liriano was supposed to be a superstar.
In 2006, as a 22-year-old, he went 12-3 with a 2.16 ERA and registered 144 strikeouts in 121 innings.
However, outside his 2010 season (14-10, 3.62 ERA, 201 strikeouts), he hasn’t been the same pitcher.
He had posted a 3-10 record and a 5.31 ERA with the Minnesota Twins before he was traded to the Chicago White Sox on July 28 for infielder Eduardo Escobar and left-hander Pedro Hernandez.
He is currently earning $5.5 million and can become a free agent following the season.
At this point, he’s more of a reclamation project than a sure thing.
Nick Swisher would be a great fit for just about any organization and what’s not to like?
He’s a proven on-base machine (.358 career OBP) with power from both sides of the plate.
The 31-year old is having another quality year, and is looking to cash in when he hits the open market following this season. According to Jon Heyman, he's looking for Jayson Werth-type money ($126 million over seven years).
Swisher is a very good player, but that’s superstar money.
The Jays would be wise to pass.
The Blue Jays haven’t had much luck with relievers named Francisco over the last couple seasons.
Frank Francisco’s 2011 campaign with the Jays could be defined as shaky, while Francisco Cordero’s half season in Toronto was an utter disaster.
Francisco Rodriguez has amassed 294 saves and would bring a ton of experience to the Blue Jays’ bullpen, but his days as a dominant closer appear to be over.
He was terrific down the stretch for the Brewers last season, but hasn’t been as reliable this year, as he’s gone 2-7 with a 4.71 ERA and 1.44 WHIP (all career-highs).
He is earning $8 million this season and is set to become a free agent in 2013.
Given his track record, he could command a multi-year deal.
It's still strange to see Ichiro Suzuki in a Yankees' uniform.
The former Mariner and future Hall of Famer has had an incredible career, which includes 10 straight seasons of 200 hits. His run ended last season when he finished with 184. He’s on pace to finish with fewer hits in 2012.
While still a threat on the base paths, it appears that father time is beginning to catch up with him. He stole 42 and 40 bases in ’10 and ’11, respectively, but is on pace to swipe a career-low 23 bags.
He was never known for his power (career-high 15 homers in 2005), and does not exhibit enough patience at the plate, as he is on pace for just 22 free passes.
The 38-year old is earning $17 million in the final season of a five-year $90 million contract he signed in 2008.
Ryan Dempster will hit free agency this offseason and could be a potential target for the Blue Jays.
He hails from Sechelt, B.C, which will likely generate a stir among the fans and media—or in other words encourage the “Canadian factor”, which could leverage Dempster into a lucrative position.
He would help the Blue Jays’ rotation, but at what cost?
The 35-year old is in the final year of a four-year $52 million contract and is earning $14 million this season. He will likely be looking for another multi-year deal as well as a raise.
The truth is that he’s not much more than .500 pitcher.
Justin Morneau hasn’t been the same since suffering a concussion July 7, 2010, which forced him to miss the remainder of that season.
He took a knee to the head by then Blue Jays’ second baseman John McDonald as he tried to break up a double play. He had been having a tremendous season up to that point as he was batting .345 with 18 home runs and 56 RBI through 81 games.
He returned for 69 games the following season, but was only a shadow of himself (.227, four homers, 30 RBI) as he battled through post-concussion symptoms and other ailments.
The New Westminster, British Columbia native has had a nice bounce back season for the Minnesota Twins, but is still not the player he was a few seasons ago.
He was believed to be on the Blue Jays’ radar earlier in the season and is signed through 2013 for $14 million.
When it comes to the Blue Jays, it’s always a bonus when you can add some Canadian content to the roster, but in this case it would be a mistake.
David Ortiz was having another banner season with the Boston Red Sox before being sidelined with a strained right Achilles tendon.
He was held out of action from July 17 to August 23, and re-aggravated the injury in his first game back. It’s expected that he will miss the remainder of the season.
Prior to the setback, he had been hitting .316 with 23 homers and 58 RBI through 90 games.
Just how long can Big Papi play at an elite level?
He would certainly look good in a Jays’ uniform, but he will also turn 37 in November.
He is set to become a free agent this offseason and is expected to be looking for a multi-year contract, which will likely be his final opportunity to cash in.
The Jays could be asking for trouble by signing Ortiz to such a deal.
In 2006, the Jays signed Frank Thomas, then 38 years old, to a two-year deal, which worked out well the first year (.277, 26 HR, 95 RBI), but turned into a disaster the following season (.167, 3 HR, 11 RBI) before releasing him after just 16 games.
Be careful what you wish for Jays’ fans.
According to MLB.com, Zach Greinke turned down a contract offer of more than $100 million over five years from the Milwaukee Brewers before he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels for shortstop Jean Segura and two minor leaguers.
Josh Hamilton will be the biggest fish in the free agency pool this offseason.
The 2010 MVP and four-time All-Star has been one of the AL’s top sluggers since joining the Texas Rangers in a one-sided 2007 trade that sent pitchers Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrera to the Cincinnati Reds.
When he’s on, he’s amongst MLB’s best, but he comes with many distractions.
By comparison, the Detroit Tigers landed Prince Fielder, last season’s biggest free agent, for $214 million over nine years, while the Cincinnati Reds signed Joey Votto to a massive contract extension at the beginning of this season that will see him earn $263 million over 13 years.
Someone's going to give him a truck load of money and whoever does will likely regret it.