5 Free Agents the Toronto Blue Jays Should Avoid at All Costs
With all the acquisitions the Toronto Blue Jays have made this offseason, there is enough optimism amongst fans to keep them occupied until the season kicks off in April.
But are the Blue Jays done?
It would appear that general manager Alex Anthopoulos is going for the AL East jugular this offseason so it’s hard to imagine that he is completely done.
A quick look at the Blue Jays depth chart will show that they could use another pitcher, perhaps a solid designated hitter and a player who may be able to fill in at a corner outfield spot on a moments notice.
There are a number of players on the free-agent market who would be viable options for Anthopoulos to target, but there are also some names out there who would prove to be a mistake for the team.
What was lost amongst the offseason circus that surrounded the Blue Jays-Miami Marlins blockbuster trade was the already-solid bullpen that Anthopoulos had created for his team.
Last year, he brought in Sergio Santos to be the elite closer that the Jays desperately needed, and Santos did a fine job before going on the season-ending DL. In his absence, Casey Janssen stepped in and provided a much-needed stability at the back end of the pitching staff.
It now appears that the Blue Jays have two healthy closers on their roster and are not in the market for another. Soriano is the best closer on the market not named Mariano Rivera, but Toronto should not bite on him, despite Anthopoulos’s apparent love for relief pitchers and Soriano’s talent.
Let’s be clear about one thing: Adam LaRoche is about to get a pay day.
Coming off his best season—with 33 HR and 100 RBI—LaRoche is in line to sign a monster deal and hopefully it’s not with Toronto.
LaRoche will be 33 this year and will be looking to sign a contract somewhere in the three-year, $25 million range. For a Toronto team that has already increased its payroll substantially, there are better places it can spend money than an aging first baseman.
Toronto should let another team take a gamble on Adam LaRoche’s one season of outstanding baseball and look to sign more affordable options. Signing a cheaper player to fill in at DH/1B for Edwin Encarnacion and–gulp–Adam Lind on the off days should not be hard for Anthopoulos.
How many baseball players on the wrong side of 30 are able to keep their speed at the level that made them into All-Star? It happens, but it is definitely the exception, as speed is generally not a skill that ages well.
Bourn’s lack of power would almost surely relegate him to a backup role in the Toronto lineup and his lack of versatility in the outfield—he almost exclusively plays centre field—is not exactly a coveted quality.
For the Blue Jays, there is no sense tying up Michael Bourn on a multi-year contract just to see him sit on the bench. His 42 steals last year were one off his career best, but between Brett Lawrie (13 steals last year), Rajai Davis (46) and Jose Reyes (40), speed is not an issue for this year's edition of the Blue Jays.
If you’re the Blue Jays, best to let this one pass and see if you can sign someone like Cody Ross or Ryan Ludwick to a shorter contract.
I'm willing to bet that most of you may disagree with this one, based on the fact that the Blue Jays rotation would be almost unbelievable on paper with Greinke's name at the top.
But there is too much of a downside to this signing.
Ken Rosenthal reports that the Blue Jays are still in the hunt for a top-of-the-rotation starter, and Zack Greinke could be a name that gains popularity.
The Blue Jays already raised their payroll to over $100,000 with their blockbuster trade with the Miami Marlins, and the two pitchers they acquired, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson, currently account for 23.45 percent of their committed payroll (via baseballprospectus.com)
Greinke would come with a hefty price tag with all the interest he is bound to generate and it would be more beneficial for the Blue Jays to bow out of the Greinke sweepstakes and put that money elsewhere. All-Star players like Greinke are few and far between in this year's free-agent crop, which will only drive his price up even further.
The Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels are likely to enter into a bidding war that the Blue Jays would be well-advised to avoid. My take is that the Angels pay whatever they need to in order to keep Greinke.
The Blue Jays have already addressed their pitching deficiencies and would be better off trying to get themselves a third fifth starter for much cheaper to complement their already-improved starting rotation. Players like Brandon McCarthy, Shaun Marcum or Joe Blanton look to be more affordable options for the Blue Jays if they are in the market for another pitcher.
Another option would be to sign an outfielder/DH now and as the season progresses, look to trade for a rent-a-player near the trade deadline if Anthopoulos feels that this is the team that can win it all.
Kyle Lohse will be the first domino to fall after Greinke signs a contract and is an intriguing name due to his stats last year.
Paired with Buehrle, Johnson, Morrow and Romero, it would be hard to ignore the Blue Jays rotation if they were to acquire Lohse.
Lohse went 16-3 last year with a 2.86 ERA and garnered CY Young consideration for the first time in his career, but that is not a guarantee that he will be able to reproduce those sterling numbers. It is only a guarantee that the Blue Jays will need to pay heavily to acquire him.
The Blue Jays have a competitive rotation, and if they are looking to acquire another starter to really put them over the top, then I believe the best course of action for them would be to make a trade.
Zack Greinke and Lohse headline the free-agent pool this year, but as the only two ace-quality pitchers available, they will come at an absurd price.