Blue Jays: Play the free agent spending game?

Based on the MLBTR predictions, which free agents would *you* target?

MLBTR recently published their list of the 50 top free agents for the 2016-17 offseason and their predictions of the contracts that those players would ultimately receive.  They predict that the Blue Jays will only sign two of these free agents:  Jose Bautista, to a 3/$51million extension (likely to play first base) and Kendrys Morales, to a 2/$26m contract, to play DH.

But there are many other players who (at least to me!) appear attractive, based on the average annual value (AAV) of the contracts that MLBTR projects.

So let’s play a game, shall we?

Suppose that the Jays had a budget of $40 million to spend on major free agents this year.  And suppose further that they could sign any of the 50 free agents from the MLBTR list at the AAV shown, provided that the total AAV did not exceed the $40 mil.  How would you spend the money?

As an example – Yoenis Cespedes is expected to get a contract of 5/$125m, or an AAV of $25 million.  Mark Trumbo is expected to get 4/$60m, for an AAV of $15m.  So you could spend your $40m on these two players, and have nothing left.  Or you could buy Edwin (4/$92m = $23m AAV) + Dexter Fowler (4/$64m = $16m AAV) for a total of $39m, and still have $1m left for popcorn.

Ready?  OK – let me go first.

Let me begin by stating my biases.  I do not like the idea of a “stars and scrubs” team – I believe that a balanced team will be more effective than one of superstars and fill-ins.  Further, I prefer to gamble on players who are relatively cheap but with upside than to spend mega-bucks on a single star (remember how Happ + Estrada + Stroman + Sanchez cost less in aggregate in 2016 than David Price?)

So here is my shopping list:

Josh Reddick – 3/$36m = $12m AAV

I like Reddick as my left-handed-hitting left fielder.  Decent OBP, above-average defense in left, some upside.

Steve Pearce – 2/$10m = $5m AAV

Pearce is my upside play to play first (and backup at second).  An impressive 136 wRC+ in 2016, but he has never been given a full-time gig.

Matt Joyce – 2/$10m = $5m AAV

Hit .242/.403/.463 with the Pirates in 2016.  Not really a viable outfielder anymore, but still potentially valuable at DH

Greg Holland – 2/$18m = $9m AAV

Give Holland the closer gig, with Grilli and Cecil setting up.  Turn Osuna into a 100-120 inning mid-game weapon, like Andrew Miller with Cleveland in 2016.

Brett Cecil – 3/$18m = $6m AAV

I still believe that the 2015 and late 2016 Cecil is the “real” Brett, notwithstanding his struggles in the first half of 2016.  If he can duplicate his opponents’ .221/.272/.372 line from the second half of 2016, he will be well worth the $6mil.

So my total spend would be $37 million.  No “big names”, but I would fill the major holes in the OF, 1B, DH and the bullpen with good players with upside.

Your turn!

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