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Blue Jays agree to one-year deals with Zeke Carrera and Aaron Loup

With the arbitration deadline right around the corner, a whole bunch of players are inking new deals all around baseball. The Blue Jays have a handful of key players who are arbitration-eligible — most notably, Josh Donaldson, Marcus Stroman, and Roberto Osuna — but they got a couple of depth players inked prior to the deadline.

Outfielder and Playoff Legend Zeke “Zeke’s Thunder” Carrera agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.9 million and lefty reliever Aaron Loup agreed to a one-year deal worth $1,812,500.

MLBTR has projected Toronto’s arb-eligible players to earn:

  • Josh Donaldson (5.158) – $20.7MM
  • Aaron Loup (5.040) – $1.8MM
  • Ezequiel Carrera (4.039) – $1.9MM
  • Marcus Stroman (3.148) – $7.2MM
  • Kevin Pillar (3.113) – $4.0MM
  • Aaron Sanchez (3.069) – $1.9MM
  • Devon Travis (3.000) – $1.7MM
  • Roberto Osuna (3.000) – $5.6MM
  • Dominic Leone (2.123) – $1.2MM

So Carrera is right in line with the prediction and Loup is just slightly above it.

Carrera played in 131 games for the Jays last season and was quite effective offensively. He’s a bit of a disaster in the outfield, but Zeke managed to get the ball on the bat and he does a good job of getting on base. He also has some speed, which makes him somewhat of a unicorn on the Jays. Last season, he was worth 0.7 wins according to Fangraphs and had a 107 wRC+. That’s perfectly fine for your fourth outfielder. The key for the Jays is making the necessary additions to their roster to ensure Zeke isn’t playing in 131 games again.

Loup is now the longest tenured Blue Jay left with the departure of Jose Bautista. He made his debut in 2012 and was excellent in his first three seasons. He struggled in 2015 and ended up getting demoted in 2016, but Loup was effective in 2017, as he was worth 0.6 wins and struck out 10 batters per nine. He’ll walk his fair share of guys and shouldn’t be your best lefty option, but given the price of left-handed pitching on the free agent market, bringing back Loup is a no-brainer.

      • The Humungus

        I agree with Void, if they wind up signing Watson. 1.3M could be better put elsewhere.

        If they have to get a lesser lefty than Watson (but one who is still a better option than Loup), then it’s probably a wash. Plus, if a lefty reliever goes down, you still have Mayza in Buffalo with options, so it’s better depth.

        I can’t argue with either signing, though. Both are solid enough options

    • breasteve

      You assume Watson would sign with the Jays.
      I do agree the $2M to Loup would have done more going to a better RP, but that logic all depends on who would be willing to sign with the Jays. You could even make the case the money would be better spent on a 5th SP and Jays could wait until ST cast-offs started shedding in order to complete their pen.

    • The Humungus

      In what world? All three have been above replacement level major league players, and league minimum is $545,000.

      In a world where free agents get about $7M per WAR, seems like they’re still underpaid. But, I’m not an economist, so maybe baseball’s micro-economy isn’t like typical economies.

      • breasteve

        In general, FA deserve higher WAR:$ numbers when compared to pre-arb players because they are typically 29+ with 8-9 years of ML experience and desirable ML production. The rest of the inflation is due to high-spend owners. I’m not sure the production of Loup and Carrera could not be provided by running out a couple pre-arb guys for teams with strong farm systems.

        • The Humungus

          I’m going to have to disagree with you there.

          Loup and Carrera are major league players with track records of being perfectly serviceable. They are, respectively, the 7th man in an 8 man bullpen, and a 4th OF.

          If you’re bringing up pre-arb guys from the minors to fill those roles, it means they aren’t playing enough to continue their development. So, while maybe a Dwight Smith or Roemon Fields could be Carrera if they were in the majors this year, but they’re still young enough that there’s a chance they could be better than Carrera if they’re playing every day in Buffalo and developing.

          Sometimes, you take the cost certainty involved rather than the risk you might get the same out of a cheaper player, especially if there’s a potentially larger opportunity cost if the cheaper player could be a better player with more playing time.

          That said, $2M for an arb eligible bench guy is totally fine within baseball’s economic structure. It’s below league median or average, whichever number you prefer. You really can’t argue that salary.

  • i may just be stupid here, but is it realistic to think that travis or sanchez will actually see that much of a drop? i get that both had essentially lost 2017’s, but the trend of baseball contracts tends to be upward unless the actual performance craters (and even then, it can take consecutive years of poor performance). i guess i just assumed that they’d stay at roughly the same rate (not that it matters a great deal in the overall).