Photo credit:Getty Images - Vaughn Ridley
All aboard the Luis Robert Jr. train
2 months ago
The Blue Jays have no time to feel sorry for themselves, it’s time to make this team better.
After missing out on Shohei Ohtani, who signed with the Dodgers on Saturday afternoon, their options are limited. They were also rumoured to be interested in Juan Soto, but he was traded to the New York Yankees in a package Toronto likely couldn’t match.
As it stands, the Blue Jays have a few holes that need filling: left field, third base, and designated hitter. Of course, they could always upgrade pitching, but getting position players is the primary focus.
Well, there’s one such player who could be available, and he’s a game changer. His name is Luis Robert Jr.
Taking a look at Luis Robert Jr.:
Robert Jr. slashed .264/.315/.542 with 38 home runs in 595 plate appearances for a 128 wRC+. He didn’t walk much (5 BB%), and he struck out at a high clip (28.9%), but his 5 fWAR would have been the best for any Blue Jay player.
This was in large part due to the centre fielder’s defensive ability. In 1207.2 innings in centre, Robert Jr. had 6 Defensive Runs Saved and 13 Outs Above Average. For his 3047.2 career innings in centre field, he has 14 DRS and 26 OAA.
Not only would the Jays add significant power with the 26-year-old’s bat, but they’d maintain their 2023 philosophy of outfield defense.
Luis Robert Jr.’s contract:
On top of being a good player, another reason why Robert Jr. is valuable is due to his contract. Robert Jr. signed his first contract with the Chicago White Sox after defecting from Cuba that included a $26 million signing bonus.
In 2020, Robert Jr. signed what was at the time, the highest contract for a player that hadn’t played in the big leagues worth $50 million over six years with two club options, excluding players for Japan.
The contract was only recently surpassed by Jackson Chourio, who signed a contract that could be worth $142.5 million over ten seasons. Last season, Robert Jr. made $9.5 million, and was worth every cent as we’ve already outlined.
Robert Jr.’s salary is set to rise to $12.5 million in 2024, still way too little for a 5 fWAR player, before increasing to $15 million in 2025. Afterwards, there’ll be team options with $20 million in both 2026 and 2027, before becoming a free agent heading into 2028.
This is a very team friendly deal, so it’ll take quite a lot for the Sox to trade him.
Is there a fit?:
The Chicago White Sox are not good. After tanking for numerous years, their “window of contention” didn’t last all too long, and they finished with a 61-101 record in 2023 in a very weak American League Central. It looks like another rebuild is on the horizon for the White Sox, which means accumulating prospects in an attempt to expedite the process.
Toronto is on the opposite end of the spectrum. After missing out on Ohtani, they may be without a superstar after the 2025 season, as both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette will become free agents. At this point, they’ll need to make a big move to continue to be competitive, and landing Robert Jr. may be that move.
There’s definitely a fit for a trade, but will Chicago be willing to part with Robert Jr.?
Will Chicago trade Robert Jr.?:
In mid-November, ESPN released an article in which White Sox general manager Chris Getz said that the team is willing to listen to offers for any players. However, in a more recent article from MLB Trade Rumors, Getz noted that Robert Jr. is “a very difficult player to move”, and noted that the centre fielder is one of the best players in the sport.
Getz’s motivation to trade Robert Jr. can be summarized in this quote “I have a tough time seeing him wearing another uniform next season.” As you could guess, a trade for the centre fielder would cost the farm system, as well as an arm, a leg, and every first born from every Blue Jay fan (think Ricky Tiedemann, Alek Manoah, and Orelvis Martinez +).
But at this point, do the Jays really have a choice? They need an outfielder that can mash. They need an outfielder that can play defence. They need an outfielder on a good contract for the possibility to re-sign Guerrero Jr. and Bichette. They need Luis Robert Jr.
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