2017 Blue Jays Free Agents: Stock Watch December Update

Keeping an eye on the changing values of the Blue Jays who’ve hit free agency

We first looked at the values of the Blue Jays’ impending free agents back on August 10 and we checked in again on October 22 after the season ended. We’re taking another look now after about a month of free agency.

Some of the players on the list have signed and we’ll briefly comment on those outcomes.

The up/down/status quo beside the players’ names is reflective of their markets since that October 22nd article

Jose Bautista: Down

2016 actual salary: $14m

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

2017 Steamer estimate: 2.8 WAR

Jose had a strong finish to a down year but in the offseason, he’s been hampered by the compensation pick he’s attached to and the wealth of other 1B/DH options. So far teams have shown a strong reluctance to hand multiple years to aging veterans.

There has been reported dialogue with a few teams, including the Blue Jays, but interest seems fairly tepid at this point. Bautista might be looking at as little as a one year guarantee with possible opt outs attached. He can then look to rebuild his value for free agency in 2018.  As some have suggested, accepting the qualifying offer, though humbling, may have been more prudent.

Michael Saunders: Down

2016 actual salary: $2.9m

2016 value: 1.35 WAR, $10.8m

2017 Steamer: 0.8 WAR

Even without the loss of a draft pick looming upon signing him, interest in Saunders has been quiet.

Eventually, he’ll probably get a few years at a around $10m AAV but as yet teams have been investigating more effective outfield options.

He’d be well advised not to get too choosy.

Edwin Encarnacion: Down

2016 actual salary: $10m

2016 value: 3.8 WAR, $30.4m

2017 Steamer: 2.2 WAR

Encarnacion’s free agency adventures have been well-documented.  We won’t beat it to death here.

His stock isn’t down due to his play but rather due to his agent’s off-season game plan and the way the 1B/DH market has developed. He’ll still get a large pay increase but not as much as he hoped for.

R.A Dickey: Signed 1 year/$7.5 million with Braves ($8m 2018 option)

2016 actual salary: $12m

2016 value: 0.7 WAR, $5.6m

2017 Steamer: 1.8 WAR

If Dickey can even perform close to that Steamer projection, the Braves will have made quite a shrewd signing.

Josh Thole: Way Down

2016 actual salary: $0.8m

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

Whatever market there was for Thole utterly collapsed when it became apparent the Braves weren’t going to use him as Dickey’s personal catcher. Thole will now be looking for a backup AAA role.

Joaquin Benoit: Signed, $7.5m with Phillies

2016 actual salary: $8m

2016 value: 0.75 WAR, $6 million

2017 Steamer: 0.6 WAR

It’s somewhat surprising the 39-year-old received as much as he did considering his Jekyll and Hyde 2016 but in the current climate for relievers, anything’s possible.

Scott Feldman: Status Quo

2016 actual salary: $8m

2016 value: 0.1 WAR, $0.8 m

Despite Feldman’s struggles with the Jays, he’s still a viable swingman option. Every team needs “Feldmans” to stock the bottom ends of rotations and bullpens or as minor league depth but there are dozens of “Feldmans.” He should still be able to get a major league deal.

Jason Grilli: $3m option picked up by Blue Jays

2016 actual salary: $3.5m

2016 value: 0.35 WAR, $2.8 m

Reliever contracts, like the ones Benoit and Cecil signed, made Grilli’s relatively economical option the easiest decision of the Blue Jays offseason

Brett Cecil: Signed, 4 years/30.5m with Cardinals

2016 actual salary: $3.8m

2016 value: 0.35 WAR, $2.8 m

Cecil outstripped expectations of what he’d receive—both in years and AAV. Cecil’s down 2016 did nothing to dissuade St. Louis’ splurging. But, next to Chapman’s record contract, this seems almost reasonable.

Gavin Floyd: Status Quo

2016 actual salary: $1m

2016 value: 0.2 WAR, $1.6m

Floyd might not get a major league guarantee this year but he’ll be given a opportunity to fight for a role somewhere. Even if he gets injured again, teams will take a few dozen decent relief innings for next to nothing.

Dioner Navarro: Status Quo

2016 actual salary: $4m

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

2017 Steamer: 0.5 WAR

“Cheap, bounce-back backup”. If he’s ready to accept the label and the corresponding salary, he’ll find a spot. But for now there’s plenty of other backup options out there and teams are addressing other areas of need first.

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