The Blue Jays might just be trend setters. The Phillies could, yet again, be taking a page out of the Jays book. That shouldn’t be a surprise considering the rich history between the clubs.
It’s easy to point to Joe Carter vs Mitch Williams, re-living one of the brightest points in Jays’ history. In a pinch, you could walk from one spring training facility to the other, as the Jays play in Dunedin and the Phillies play in Clearwater, though it’s not recommended in the Florida heat. Fans of both clubs were blessed by the presence of the legendary Roy Halladay. And there have been about 15 transactions between the two organizations in the past 10 years. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, Toronto and Philly have a solid working rapport.
The Scott Kingery deal is the latest example of the Blue Jays influencing the Phillies. Critics will continue to point to the Jon Singleton deal — $50 million for a player who never lived up to his hype — but, Lourdes Gurriel Jr might be a better comparison.
Gurriel was an international free agent who had very limited career earnings compared to Kingery’s $1.26 million signing bonus as a second round pick in 2015. It can be assumed the motivation for Gurriel was to ensure as much financial stability as possible by signing a long-term deal.
Gurriel could have signed a shorter deal and earned more in the second contract, but that would have been a huge risk. Does anyone actually think Singleton regrets signing for potentially less than what he could have earned if he performed to expectations?
Questions remain to why Kingery is signing this deal as he could be leaving money on the table if he performs as expected. The risk just does not make sense for some. Kingery, Singleton and Gurriel all practiced risk aversion. If we want to bring Donaldson into this, he is the antithesis of a risk averse player.
The Jays may have just recognized how risk averse Gurriel was and by signing him through his age 29 season they were able to, theoretically, overpay now to underpay for his most productive seasons. If Gurriel’s MLB numbers turn out anything like his brother’s than the Jays will be applauded for their foresight. If Gurriel turns out to be the next Singleton than the Jays will be the brunt of a joke, just like the Astros but at half the price – not to mention it’s tough to laugh at the World Series Champions.
The Jays may just be as risk averse as Kingery and Gurriel. They should be applauded for the Gurriel deal, regardless of how he turns out, and the Phillies may have just given a standing ovation by signing Kingery to a long-term deal that is so incredibly similar.
Parallels exists between the players and their deals (source):
- Total values ($22 & $23 Million, respectively)
- Age at start of contract (age 23 season)
- Positional flexibility (apparently everywhere but on the mound or behind the plate)
These contracts are so damn similar. The first three seasons are almost identical, raising questions to if Gurriel was the comparable being used in negotiations. Considering the relationship between the Phillies and Jays, this is a fairly reasonable and logical leap.
Remove the option years as they are not guaranteed – team options with no qualifier (correct me if I’m wrong). Gurriel at $22 over seven years and Kingery at $23 over six years results in the Jays paying $690,000 less per annum than the Phillies. At that pay rate, the advantage may go to the Phillies considering how Gurriel has performed in the minors to date and that Kingery will contribute right away. Throw in Kingery’s $1 million buyout and that per annum jumps to $857,000 – still not much of a difference. The comparison changes when including the seventh year and its $13 million as Kingery’s salary jumps to $5.14 million (not including any buyout) compared to Gurriel’s $3.1 million.
Neither player has proved anything at the MLB level, yet. At this point, is Kingery worth $2 million more per annum than Gurriel? The general consensus is the Phillies fleeced Kingery. If that is the case, what do we call what the Jays did to Gurriel?
Moving forward we should be expecting more long-term signings of young players – especially by the Jays. The idea of signing Vlad Jr to this type of deal should make every Jays fan giddy in anticipation, though lets temper our expectations as what motivation would Vlad Jr have – he did sign a $3.9 million signing bonus. Bo Bichette’s $1.1 million signing bonus may put him in the Jays’ sweet spot.
The most logical candidate may be Anthony Alford as his arb years coincide with his 26, 27 and 28 seasons. Depending on how Ryan Borucki performs in Buffalo, he too may be a logical target. The fact that Borucki was a 15th round pick only benefits the Jays as, unlike most high end prospects, he does not have that signing bonus cushion to fall back on.
It all comes down to risk aversion and knowing how players weigh risk. The way that Atkins and Shapiro have been running the Jays tells me they may just have something up their sleeve. The rest of baseball is watching, so let’s see what they do next…
Now it’s your turn, let’s hear what you think (tip of the hat to those sharing and making us consider different perspectives – no need to mention names).