Blue Jays president/CEO Mark Shapiro appeared on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM and spoke to Jim Bowden about the decision not to re-sign David Price this offseason (audio link). “Every team has a budget,” Shapiro began. “Every team has operating parameters. I don’t know why it’s not fashionable to just say the truth. David Price would’ve represented almost our entire offseason. It’s that simple, Jim. Almost no one would make that decision. … To me, it comes down to we had a very, very, very challenging pitching dilemma here in that we lost him, we lost [Marco] Estrada. We had zero Triple-A pitchers — not one, not a name to fill our rotation in Triple-A. We had to take the money, which was ample, and figure out how to both solve the Major League rotation, which was two spots in the rotation, along with solving a depth challenge. … Regardless of how great one pitcher is, you need to build a team around the guy, too.”
More from Shapiro and more on the Jays…
- Within that same interview, Shapiro also said that he discussed multiple concepts with Josh Donaldson’s representatives before agreeing to a two-year, $29MM contract. The club explored long-term contract scenarios that would buy out free-agent years as well as three-year deals to lock in all of his remaining arbitration seasons and also just straight one-year deals. “Josh is a guy that not only performed at an elite level from a talent perspective but provided the energy, leadership and competitive edge that, to me, fueled this team last year,” said Shapiro of the reigning American League MVP.
- With Donaldson’s contract situation now resolved, the club can turn its attention to Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Shapiro explained that the team has a clear desire to extend each player, but the question of what it will take to do so is significant. Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron attempts to price out an extension for Bautista, who will turn 36 in October and is thus considerably older than the typical extension candidate. Even elite position players in Bautista’s age class have been limited to a maximum of four years, writes Cameron, citing the contracts for Victor Martinez, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Beltran as examples of older stars that have taken four (or, in Beltran’s case, three) years on the open market. As Cameron notes, a good bit of decline will need to be expected over the term of the contract, and it’s likely that Bautista would look like an overvalued asset in a four-year deal’s final season. Ultimately, after making a four-year WAR projection and forecasting for some year-to-year regression, Cameron arrives at a four-year, $75MM pact as a reasonable price.
- There’s some sense to that deal for both sides, to be sure, though I personally wonder if Cameron’s general hypothesis that Bautista would land at four years and $90MM on the open market next year undersells his earning potential. Assuming a characteristically productive season, Bautista could be the premier bat on a thin free-agent market, and age notwithstanding, a $22.5MM annual value isn’t the top of the spectrum for premium power hitters. I’d wager that a current Blue Jays extension would have to top $80MM in total value, as I can envision enough interest in his bat to push that earning ceiling closer to, or even north of $100MM on the open market, either via an increased annual value or via a club tacking on a fifth year (at a much lower rate) as a means of pushing its offer over the top. (For those interested in further reading on Bautista, MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk profiled his extension candidacy back in November.)
- Gavin Floyd’s strong finish to the 2015 season in Cleveland impressed not only Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins (both were still with the Indians at the time), but a number of Blue Jays scouts as well, writes Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. Floyd’s fastball sat at 92 mph and touched 95 mph, writes Nicholson-Smith, and with three additional breaking pitches in his arsenal, Atkins, Shapiro and the scouting staff deemed him worthy of a 40-man roster spot if that was the final component needed to get Floyd to Toronto. “He has the make-up of a starter with a repeatable delivery and a four-pitch arsenal,” said Atkins. “We’ve also seen his work ethic up close and we know it’s going to be there.” As Nicholson-Smith notes, Floyd doesn’t need to provide much value to justify such a minimal investment.