Adam Lind Rumors
There were more than a few Blue Jays fans disappointed that Adam Lind was still the club's first baseman on Opening Day, given the (mostly unfounded) belief in Toronto that the team would make a push to sign Prince Fielder last winter. Playoff-starved Jays supporters were no doubt tired of having to wait at least one more year for the team to fully go "all-in" for a postseason run, but given the cost of acquiring a big first base bat, it's no surprise that the Jays are giving Lind another season to pull himself together.
Lind enjoyed a big breakout campaign in 2009, hitting .305/.370/.562 with 35 homers. That performance earned him a multiyear contract extension worth a guaranteed $18MM from 2010-13, plus club options for each of the 2014 ($7MM), 2015 ($7.5MM) and 2016 ($8MM) seasons, which would have been Lind's first three free agent years.
The extension was so team-friendly that it could still prove to be a bargain for Toronto, despite the fact that Lind has struggled mightily since signing the deal. Lind posted a combined .243/.291/.432 line, 49 homers and 48 doubles in 2010 and 2011 --- just 14 homers and two doubles more than he hit in 2009 alone. This poor performance didn't occur in a vacuum, however, as Lind has battled wrist and back injuries, gone through a position shift to first base that he admitted he was physically unprepared to handle and also possibly distracted by off-the-field events like getting married and having his first child.
Now, Lind is healthy and entirely focused on baseball. Even if he doesn't hit as he did in 2009, I think the Blue Jays would simply be satisfied with Lind proving he can be a productive Major League hitter rather than posting another sub-.300 OBP. The Jays' plan is to have Lind play every day against right-handers and he'll be occasionally spelled at first by Edwin Encarnacion when Toronto faces a tough left-handed starter.
The Jays have given themselves flexibility at the 1B/DH spots, between Lind, Encarnacion (the team holds a $3.5MM option on him for 2013), the loser of the long-term left field battle between Eric Thames and Travis Snider, or even Jose Bautista, who the Jays probably have slated to move out of right field within a couple of years' time. Toronto's deep minor league system also provides depth; it's easy to see a scenario where Bautista moves to first to make room for Jake Marisnick or Anthony Gose in the outfield, with Gose could bumping current center fielder Colby Rasmus to right.
As noted, Lind's contract is not a great burden on the Jays' payroll. Even if he does again underachieve, he'll be likely brought back in 2013 as a platoon candidate. A third straight poor season, however, would be the third strike for Lind's place in Toronto's long-term plans. Lind would be facing a $2MM buyout from the club rather than a pickup of his $7MM option for 2014. As we saw last winter, 1B/DH types with much more proven track records than Lind had trouble finding Major League contracts, so it's not a stretch to say that Lind's career could be riding on how he hits in 2012.
It's hard to avoid the parallels to the ignominious end of Aaron Hill's tenure as a Blue Jay. Hill also enjoyed a big 2009 campaign and had a team-friendly contract extension that included a number of option years. Hill's productivity after 2009, however, fell off so sharply that the Jays dealt him to Arizona last summer and moved on with Kelly Johnson at second base. Hill's defensive skill and his premium position made him a more attractive trade candidate than Lind, but his departure confirms that the Jays will only give so much rope to an underperforming player, even one who has a good contract and was very recently thought of as a key part of the club's core.
There are a multitude of reasons why the Jays didn't feel the timing was right to make a play for a big-name first baseman last winter, be it signing Fielder or making a franchise-altering trade (i.e. selling the farm to the Reds for Joey Votto). If all goes well for the Jays in 2012, however, the team will surely be looking to contend for the postseason in 2013, and they know they won't be able to achieve that goal without at least steady production from the first base spot. Toronto has already prepared itself for the post-Lind era, so the pressure is on the 28-year-old to show that he deserves to not just keep his job now, but also that he deserves to play for the contender that the Jays fancy themselves to be in the near future.
Photo courtesy of Michael L. Stein/US Presswire
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says the organization can afford to be more patient than last offseason, since his team's needs are less pressing than they were a year ago. Here's the latest on the Blue Jays, from MLB.com beat reporter Gregor Chisholm:
- Anthopoulos doesn’t know whether Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg and Miguel Olivo will accept arbitration, but he hopes to have the players back in Toronto for the 2011 season. Asked to predict the players’ decisions, Anthopoulos guessed they will decline the team’s offers.
- The club thought Adam Lind played respectably good defense at first base, but has yet to determine the 27-year-old’s position for 2011.
- The Blue Jays are open to acquiring a player with “baggage” under the right circumstances. "It depends, how significant is it? Would it affect other players?” Anthopoulos asked. “If it's the right player, and the right fit, the right talent, at the right price, then you have to be open to it."
- That's good news for fans hoping to see Manny Ramirez in Toronto. ESPN.com's Buster Olney can't envision any team guaranteeing Ramirez $5MM and expects the slugger to sign an incentive-laden deal.
Why isn't there more baseball today? Links for Tuesday...
- BoSox manager Terry Francona is glad that the organization hammered out Josh Beckett's extension before it became a media circus, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal.
- I'll be joining Jeff & Jeff on KFNS St. Louis today at 1:25pm CST. Click here to listen live.
- SI's Jon Heyman wonders if the Diamondbacks and Rockies will get in on free agent lefty Jarrod Washburn.
- Josh Beckett initially wanted to top Carlos Zambrano's five-year, $91.5MM deal, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford. The market has changed since that deal was signed in August of '07, and the Red Sox secured Beckett for four years and $68MM.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says rival agents are exasperated by Adam Lind's four-year, $18MM extension, given the three club options. Frustrated agents - always a good sign for the team.
- Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch analyzes changes in the Cardinals' Opening Day payroll compared to '09.
- Steve Sommer of FanGraphs finds the best one-year deals at $2MM guaranteed or less for 2009, with Carl Pavano's Indians contract leading the way.
- The Twins look at seven factors when considering signing a young player to a long-term extension, learned Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
- Baseball America's Will Lingo puts together a list of lesser-known future GM candidates in the latest Ask BA.
Sunday night links..
- While other clubs did some last minute tinkering today, Brewers GM Doug Melvin decided to stand pat with his lineup, writes Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
- For the first time in three years, the Marlins won't have the lowest payroll in baseball on Opening Day, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Florida's payroll of $46MM ranks ahead of the Padres and Pirates.
- Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com (via Twitter) didn't expect Scott Schoeneweis to make the BoSox roster after being released by the Brewers. Edes adds that he expects Alan Embree to make his way to the big league squad after he puts in more work in the minors.
- The Mets have demoted reliever Kiko Calero to their Triple-A affiliate, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (via Twitter). Calero's deal - which he signed in early March - does not allow Calero to opt-out upon being assigned to the minors.
- Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun write that O's outfielder Nolan Reimold took ground balls at first base yesterday. Orioles GM Andy MacPhail told the Sun not to read too much into it, as they were only seeking to increase the 26-year-old's versatility. However, an item on ESPN's rumor page wonders aloud if the fielding practice could be about the club's future plans at the position without Luke Scott and Garrett Atkins.
- A major league insider told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that the extension given to Adam Lind is a good deal for both parties. The Blue Jays signed Lind to a four-year, $18MM pact yesterday morning.
- Ken Gurnick of MLB.com points out that Carlos Monasterios is just the fourth Rule 5 draftee to make a Dodgers Opening Day roster.
The Blue Jays have signed Adam Lind to a four year deal worth $18MM, writes MLB.com's Jordan Bastian. Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com tweets that the deal also includes club options for 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Bastian says that Lind will earn $400K in 2010 with a $600K bonus, then $5MM each year from 2011-2013. The 2014 option is worth $7MM with a $2MM buyout, the 2015 option is worth $7.5MM with a $1MM buyout, and the 2016 option is worth $8MM with a $500K buyout (Twitter link). If all of the options are picked up, Lind will earn $38.5MM over seven years.
Lind was entering his final pre-arbitration season in 2010, and wasn't scheduled to become a free agent until after the 2013 season. The deal buys out all three years of arbitration eligibility, and gives the team options for three free agent years.
The 26-year-old Lind broke out in a big way last season, hitting .305/.370/.562 with 46 doubles and 35 homeruns. Even though he's mostly a leftfielder and designated hitter, Toronto appears to get a tremendous bargain here. For comparison's sake, Nick Markakis will earn $62.455MM for the same seven year chunk of his career.
WEDNESDAY, 1:54pm: MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes that a Major League source told him Delgado "doesn't fit into the Blue Jays' plans." But if you're concerned about Delgado's health, his agent told Bastian the slugger "would have no problems playing first base on an everyday basis."
MONDAY, 6:59pm: AOL Fanhouse's Ed Price tweets, the Mets have seen Carlos Delgado in Puerto Rico twice, and plan to see him once more. Price adds that Delgado "is not moving well". Price adds that the Blue Jays, Delgado's first team, might be a "more likely landing spot."
One would figure Price mentions this because Toronto plays in the American League, giving Delgado a chance to DH, but it isn't so clear where Delgado fits in there. Adam Lind is Toronto's best hitter, and fields like a DH. Lyle Overbay is left-handed, just as Delgado is. Just how much of a role Toronto can offer Delgado is not at all clear.
Where Delgado fits with the Mets is much more obvious- he stands as far likelier to excel as a hitter while playing first base than Daniel Murphy in 2010. If he can't move well enough to play the position, of course, he becomes a glorified pinch hitter for New York.
For his part, Delgado has been hitting in his time with Carolina, putting a .353 average up in 19 plate appearances, including a home run. He only began playing the field on Sunday night, however.
9:01pm: The Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan is reporting that Toronto "wants no part of Milton Bradley." Meanwhile, Cubs GM Jim Hendry said that Chicago hasn't given up on Bradley, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin. Of course, Hendry has to say that until the moment Bradley is traded.
5:55pm: A very interesting idea is being reported by Ken Rosenthal: a three-way deal, with Milton Bradley going to the Blue Jays, Luis Castillo to the Cubs, and Lyle Overbay to the Mets. Rosenthal said "The teams indeed have discussed the framework of such a deal, though not in direct fashion, according to major-league sources."
Breaking it down, the trade makes the most sense for the Mets, who would clear second base for long-coveted Orlando Hudson, a free agent. Overbay has also mashed righties for his entire career - .847 OPS career, .905 in 2009 - and could be paired with Daniel Murphy or Nick Evans for a high-reward platoon.
Castillo does block the movement of Ryan Theriot to second base when Starlin Castro arrives, but adding Castillo's on-base percentage would be a boon to the top of Chicago's lineup.
As for the Blue Jays, the deal would open up first base for Adam Lind, with Bradley slotting in as designated hitter. The question is: Overbay slugged .466 in 2009, while Bradley slugged just .397 - so is this an upgrade?
6:10pm: Just to wrap up Toronto's brief venture into the Bay sweepstakes (since it was first reported in this post)...the Jays backed out when the Pirates asked for Shaun Marcum and top prospect Travis Snider.
5:36pm: Geoff Baker has some more details on the failed deal with Toronto although he still is not sure who was offered for Ibanez. Baker has quotes from JP Ricciardi that says it was the Mariners that backed out of the deal. Baker then goes on to speculate that the aquisition of Ibanez was a marketing tool to convince the fans in Toronto that the team was still gunning for the playoffs to keep TV ratings up.
2:48pm: Jayson Stark says the Mariners had second thoughts and will likely keep Ibanez. It could've been a 2-for-1 with Major Leaguers going to Seattle.
2:34pm: Jeff Blair says talks for Ibanez are ongoing. It's even possible (though unlikely) an Ibanez trade could allow the Jays to include Adam Lind in a deal.
Blair adds that the Marlins called the Jays about Matt Stairs.
2:20pm: The Jays are left as the sole Ibanez suitor as we draw to within 40 minutes of the deadline.
11:48am: According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Blue Jays have entered the mix for Jason Bay. Of course, the asking price will be high. But Bay is Canadian!
The Jays are 6.5 games out of the wild card, that dangerous area where a team thinks it's a contender. Bay is under contract for '09 too though.
According to a source of Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail, the market for left fielder Reed Johnson is "non-existent." This is not a big surprise - Johnson was a candidate to be non-tendered this winter. He had back surgery in April and is set to earn $3.27MM in '08.
Blair speculates that the Jays may be inclined to listen to offers for Adam Lind. Back in November, ESPN's Keith Law had this to say about Lind:
Lind has a classic left-hander's swing and good hand-eye coordination. His power is fringe-average but projects to above-average. He's best suited to play first base, but it's possible to live with his defense in left because of how he'll hit.
Keith Law, a favorite here at MLBTR and at home home, River Ave. Blues, has posted an article on 10 potential trade candidates off-season. It seems that if anything big does go down this off-season, it will be in the form of a trade, since the FA market is particularly weak. So who does Law have in mind?
The most surprising name on the list is the Blue Jays' Adam Lind. Law believes that with the next year's financial commitments to Frank Thomas, Lyle Overbay, and now Matt Stairs, there is no obvious spot for Lind, and he'll have to win a job in Spring Training -- which he could most certainly do. It seems a bit foolish to trade a 24-year-old because of a couple of short-term financial commitments, most notably in the case of Stairs, who will be making a paltry $1 million in 2009. J.P. Ricciardi has done stranger things, though.
Another strange name is Ben Broussard, who figures to at least have a shot at being non-tendered. Law notes his favorable platoon splits against righties and figures he can help a team fill out a position. But since the Mariners already have Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro under contract, and are looking to get Adam Jones some more playing time, there doesn't seem a logical spot for Broussard.
Law also brings up David DeJesus and Coco Crisp, often mentioned around these parts, as well as Andy LaRoche and, despite the trade of Jacques Jones, Matt Murton.
As a Yanks fan, I have to be at least a little curious at the inclusion of Cliff Lee. With Andy Pettitte's career at the most a year from ending, and with the further possibility that he's thrown his last pitch, the Yanks are going to need a lefty starter. Might as well inquire on Lee, as his not-so-stellar 2007 has significantly decreased his value.
Joe Pawlikowski is co-author of River Ave. Blues, a Yankees blog.