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Winter Meeting Rumour Mongering Has Begun!: Jays Linked to Harrison, Cobb

Happy Winter Meetings, everybody! The Blue Jays are fucked!

Ho ho ho. No, that’s not true. Sure, sure, the Yankees probably made up for Aaron Judge’s coming regression by adding Giancarlo Stanton (assuming he stays healthy), but that’s hardly a reason to cower and pack it in. *COUGH* You see, as the very fact that we think teams will readily give over a bounty for free-agents-to-be like Josh Donaldson or J.A. Happ illustrates, there’s a lot of value in having a chance for your team to be good. And, as the fact that the Jays would have been 8-10 wins better with the 2016 versions of just Josh Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez, and José Bautista instead of the 2017 ones (saying nothing of other decent players who gave them nothing last year but might in 2018, like Devon Travis, Troy Tulowitzki, Kendrys Morales, Joe Biagini (provided he gets in shape) etc.) shows, they have a chance to be quite a bit better in 2018 than a lot of fans believe.

And that’s before they make any tweaks! Which they probably will! Unless they suddenly decide to cower and pack it in!

Which, y’know, is actually what they might as well do if they’re looking at someone like Josh Harrison — which, according to a tweet from Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, they apparently are.

What’s that you say? Harrison is a nice, versatile piece on a decent contract who would bring some speed and is league average hitter for his career and it’s good that the Jays are interested in him? Yeah, I get that. I’m definitely being hyperbolic in my shitting on this idea. But countering the good that he might bring is the fact that he hits from the right side, he doesn’t play shortstop (he’s primarily a second baseman who has also spent time at third base and in the outfield), and I’m really not sure how much I believe in the bat.

Harrison posted a 104 wRC+ in 2017, thanks in large part to a career high 16 home runs. On their own, those are some very nice numbers, and Harrison had an even better year in 2014, slashing a .353-BABIP-aided .315/.347/.490 and hitting 13 bombs. He’s shown he can hit. And $10.25 million is a decent price, especially given the club option on his deal for 2019, and the fact that the Jays can maybe figure out a way to get the Pirates to take some money back in a deal. But Harrison doesn’t walk, and over two years and nearly 1,000 plate appearances in 2015 and 2016 he went deep just eight times.

If you get the 86 wRC+, .311 OBP, four home run Harrison of 2016, or even the 98 wRC+, .327 OBP, four home run Harrison of 2015, that’s not a very good use of either the portion of salary you’re paying him or the pieces it took to acquire him. And the thing about those 16 dingers in 2017 is that everybody was hitting the ball out of the ballpark this year. I don’t want to act like they’re all suspect or anything, but it’s certainly enough to give me pause.

If either Harrison or Aldemys Diaz hit from the left side, I’d be more for a move like this. And, OK, sure, I wouldn’t be against it — it certainly raises the floor, if you only think of Harrison and Diaz as replacements for Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney. I just don’t know if it’s the way to go — especially if you’re paying the full freight.

Meanwhile…

Jon Heyman tweets that the Jays are among the teams “eyeing” starter Alex Cobb — a guy who makes some sense for them, given that Happ and Marco Estrada are due to be free agents at the end of 2018. Especially if he has a death wish! Not that they ever were, and not that the Jays had the kind of payroll room to pay them anyway, but I’m just not sure the top free agent pitchers are going to be looking too seriously at coming here just right now. The Jays might be looking at taking a one-year flyer on some guys — which actually could benefit them, too. Sure, if they hold off on selling their free-agents-to-be until at least mid-season, they’re going to lose out on some of the value they could get for those guys now. But if they use their resources to add even more cheap-ish, short-term guys who could be valuable at the deadline, they can also trade them and perhaps recoup a little of what’s being lost by not pivoting sooner. Maybe? A little?

Annnnywho. Don’t hold your breath on Cobb, because Heyman’s tweet also says that the Cubs are focusing on him.

Speaking of the Cubs, Heyman also tweets that they are closing in on signing Brandon Morrow. Makes sense — and good for him!

  • AD

    Im ok with harrison as a replacement for barney. And if the jays are planning to use him and diaz as backups for when tulo and travis inevitably get injured. But to play everyday in OF? Hell no, just in certain situations. I dont see them signing cobb either, he’ll be expensive.

  • Nice Guy Eddie

    Very good article up on Sportsnet about whether the Jays would be better to ‘blow it up’. Count me in the ‘Yay’ column. ‘Course this will draw all kinds of hinterland jeers from the folks who think they’re being deprived of the ‘stars’, like Prince, and Shields, and Tulo and Price, that they’ve yearned for.

    I really like the new FO. I’d like to see what they can do. Time to trade Josh. Trade Kevin and Justin (an asset after last year’s internet diaper-loading about a 2-year, $8 mil deal). Let’s move Osuna, an RP after all. Our starting pitching stays for now. And for god sakes let’s find a taker for some of Tulo’s salary. He has no straight up value. I’d rather watch 19 year old Samad Taylor play than see another major DL stint for Tulo.

    • drunk man walking

      we are all waiting for our management team to bring in their first position player who puts up positive WAR. Think maybe it will happen this year?

        • drunk man walking

          I was thinking the whole season…but you certainly have me there. As pessimistic as I am about this team if he could keep that up for a year that would be a godsend. Wish that he had been a little better in the DR.

      • Torontoguy

        Well, you can’t say this without context. First of all, they extended Smoak who would have been a free agent instead of being with the Jays last year. Second, since the new management team came aboard, there hasn’t really been a lot of open competition for positions. The only full-time player the team brought on was Morales and like 3 DHs in the league had positive WAR last year (not that he’s good or anything anyways).

        • drunk man walking

          there is no argument that resigning a player is not a free choice. Once any contract expires the FO has choice. Without a guaranteed contract any player can be moved. Martin and Tulo are the only once that fall into that category. Every other contract on the team today is one the new FO has chosen to sign, or could have gotten rid of..

      • 0noggin

        Nothing but excuses and lack of results from the new FO so far. On the plus side, they haven’t traded our best prospects away for RA Dickey, but on the flip side, they haven’t brought in any impact players, whether through free agency or trade. To contend this year, they’ll need a couple of impact bats and a top-3 starter, but they’ll have to figure out how to rejig the roster in a major way. The way I see it, they’re in a really tough spot, as they have a long way to go to be competitive, but it’s hard to rebuild when you’re carrying the Tulo contract and only have 1 year of JD left. It would be a shame to waste the core of young pitching they have, though, so I hope they find a way.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      The thrust of the arcticle though, had to do with whether the theory of ‘make it to the playoffs ‘cuz from then on it’s a crapshoot’ was correct. I don’t think that matters. What matters in a 162-game schedule is having 162 meaningful games, and making it to the Wild Card is enough for that. Problem is, I don’t think there’s anything reasonable the team can do to get from 76 wins to the Wild Card. And I don’t want to empty the farm system trying.

        • Nice Guy Eddie

          There’s never a ‘clear answer’ at this point. What there is, is potential. He played in the NYP league as an 18 year old for gods sake and slashed .795. What do you want?

      • DAKINS

        Well, they could do absolutely nothing this offseason and still win more than 76 games. This isn’t a 76 win team just because they only won 76 games. You are completely ignoring the issues the team had with health and underperformance that dragged the team down all last season.

        • Nice Guy Eddie

          It’s certainly possible they could win more than 76 games. It’s also possible that they could win fewer than 76 games, for example with a regression by Smoak and or/Stroman, more injuries to an aging team, etc. What is likely however, is that they will not improve by the number of games needed to make a Wild Card spot, and its even more unlikely they will win the Division.

  • vic

    I don’t see the need to ‘blow it up’. The team can compete for a 2nd wild card spot in ’18 with some positive moves, and beyond that, why they can’t try to maintain competitiveness while rebuilding at the same time? They have done that the past two seasons, adding prospects at the deadline in ’16 even when they were a playoff team, and obviously adding them last year when they were out of it. People are way too big of scorching earth. It’s not needed in baseball, and I certainly do not want to see a bunch of shitty baseball on the field for 3-5 years when they could easily rebuild and keep a perennial 80-85 win team on the field as they move towards their next core group of young players. As long as they are not trading prospects out of the wazoo like Alex was, and only add pieces that cost money, then it’s not exactly hurting any potential rebuild. The rebuild has already started, and has been in place for two years. They were just add to squeeze a playoff appearance out of it, and will try for another one in 2018. If that fails, then sell at the deadline again.

    As far as Harrison. I think he makes a lot of sense. I don’t think any Sp is worth spending money on this winter, so a one year flier on someone is fine with me. That leaves the outfield, and looking at the free agent market, there isn’t much there, either. If you can add a couple of 2-win players in salary dumps without trading any significant prospects, then it’s probably worth doing. Free agency sucks this winter, and the Jays are not at a point where they can trade real prospects.

  • shhhiiiittt…i had even thought about how hard it already is to attract FA starters, given the hitter-friendly park, or the fact they’re in the AL (DH), or that they play mashing teams 18x/yr (yanks, O’s & rays donged a bunch, and the sawx just have great overall young talent, even if it’s a bit short on power (for now)), or how many of those games are played in bandboxes…now they’ve gotta face stanton.

    it’s ok though. it’s FIIIINE. i’m sure middle infield depth, a AAAA fifth starter, and a quality reliever will go far in leveling things out.

    now excuse me, i need crawl back into my can.

  • 0noggin

    Small sample size alert, but Alford is hitting well in Mexico, with .457/.444/.629 with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 6 steals in 16 games. Could be a better option if healthy than Jay Bruce in OF, IMO, even if the Jays manage to talk Jay off his absurd demands and get him to settle for a 2 year deal under $10M per. Jay is on the downside of his career, with maybe a sharp dropoff this year (a la Bautista), whereas Alford is just getting started and has a much higher ceiling than Pillar