FROM JJ—2017 Blue Jays Free Agents: Stock Watch Update

(Originally appeared on Jays Journal on October 22, 2016)

Keeping an eye on the changing values of the Blue Jays set to hit free agency

We had a look at the values of the Blue Jays’ impending free agents back on August 10. We’re taking another look now that the season has ended to see whether their stocks have fallen or climbed.

The up/down/status quo beside the players’ names is reflective of their performance since that August 10th article, not their full 2016 performance.

We’ll continue to keep an eye on the Blue Jays’ free agents as the landscape changes with the market opening and contract being doled out.

Jose Bautista: Up

2016 actual salary: $14m

Estimated 2016 value: 1.2 WAR (bWAR and fWAR have been averaged together),  $9.6 million (assuming 1 WAR = ~$8m on open market)

Jose’s value is still way down overall in 2016 but Bautista has rebuilt his value since our last stock update. He increased his OPS by 24 points to .817 and as anticipated, saw his BABIP luck improve from a .229 to .321 BABIP over the remainder of the season. He made contributions early in the postseason as well but, like most of his team mates, Cleveland shut his bat down in the ALCS.

Bautista’s defence remains a major concern finishing with -1.4 dWAR. He also posted the lowest base running runs of his career with a -5.2 BsR mark.

Bautista hasn’t rebuilt his value enough to merit even half of what he was reportedly asking for last offseason. He was looking for a massive raise but now he may actually be looking at a pay cut from his 2016 salary. He has recovered enough to warrant the Blue Jays giving him a qualifying offer ($17.2 m). It might be wise for Bautista to accept and get a second chance at a contract year (while still being paid more than he ever has been) but it seems very unlikely that he will.

Bautista’s track record and reputation will net him more per year than the $9.6m he was worth this season but any team offering more than $45m over 3 years is miscalculating and taking a huge risk.

2016 actual salary: $2.9m

Estimated 2016 value: 1.35 WAR, $10.8m

Saunders’ value has dropped by over 50% since a 3.22 WAR mark on August 10. He put together a measly .631 OPS since then as well.

Saunders did leave a pleasant taste in the mouth with a very successful 22 PA showing in the postseason.

It was looking as if Saunders was going to be another successful late 20’s bloomer for the Jays a la Encarnacion and Bautista but now it seems Saunders’ 1st half outburst was a flash in the pan.

Michael was a qualifying offer no-brainer but now it’s too risky that he’ll accept as Keegan Matheson detailed here. $17.2 million would be a huge pay increase for him and far more than any AAV he’s likely to be offered. Anyway, teams won’t be eager to hand him multiple years with his inconsistent career and 2016 season, his poor fielding and his injury history.

Edwin Encarnacion: Up

2016 actual salary: $10m

Estimated 2016 value: 3.8 WAR, $30.4m

Encarnacion continued on with the same torrid pace from our last stock watch article and added heroic moments in the postseason.

Edwin is the top free agent available to this writer’s mind. Best of all, he seems very comfortable in Toronto and is apparently very amenable to staying (get it done!). Even if the Blue Jays can’t retain his services, they’ll at least receive a compensatory pick.

R.A Dickey: Status quo

2016 actual salary: $12m

Estimated 2016 value: 0.7 WAR, $5.6m

Dickey still has value as a cheap 5th starter option for some teams but the Blue Jays have no room or need for him anymore. And that of course means the same for…

Josh Thole: Status quo

2016 actual salary: $0.8m

Estimated 2016 value: -0.66 WAR, $0m/league minimum

Wither Dickey, thither Thole.

Joaquin Benoit: Up

2016 actual salary: $8m

Estimated 2016 value: 0.75 WAR, $6 million

Benoit’s season saw a 180 degree turn around after being traded to Toronto. He let up on earned run over 23.2 IP with the Jays. His dramatic resurgence will make it difficult to retain the services of a veteran with such a solid track record. That’s taking into consideration the fluke injury and 39 years of age as well.

Scott Feldman: Way Down

2016 actual salary: $8m

Estimated 2016 value: 0.1 WAR, $0.8 m

A change of scenery had a totally opposite effect on Feldman who allowed 14 earned runs in 15 innings for the Jays. Feldman has been a serviceable 5th starter and swingman and could become a good buy low reclamation project for someone next season.

Jason Grilli: Down

2016 actual salary: $3.5m

Estimated 2016 value: 0.35 WAR, $2.8 m

Picking up Grilli’s $3m option is still a good idea but it’s not the slam dunk it was before Jason’s poor showing in September. Ideally Grilli can continue in his set up role and at least, even if the control issues resurface next year, he can still be utilized as a strikeout artist.

Brett Cecil: Up

2016 actual salary: $3.8m

Estimated 2016 value: 0.35 WAR, $2.8 m

Cecil recovered in the latter part of the season after an extended 1st half slump. Since August 10, Cecil’s posted a 1.98 ERA with 21 K in 13.2 innings. He also added 4 shutout innings in the postseason. Cecil has put up several excellent seasons in recent years but his proneness to long slumps will give potential suitors pause. Cecil is the best lefty reliever available aside from Chapman

Gavin Floyd: Status Quo

2016 actual salary: $1m

Estimated 2016 value: 0.2 WAR, $1.6m

Did not play since last stock watch (injured)

Dioner Navarro: Down

2016 actual salary: $4m

Estimated 2016 value: -0.6 WAR, $0 m/league minimum

Dioner was having a rough season before he came back to the Jays but the reunion did him no favours. Navarro did add two hits in two plate appearances in the ALCS.

(Visit Jays Journal for more of my work and articles from other great Jays bloggers)


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