Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Question of Manny

Stoeten over at DJF made note earlier in the week of the persistent mention - particularly by Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman - of the Jays being part of the discussion of where Manny Ramirez suits up next season.

Now comes Jay Onrait blogging at TSN on this subject and the case is a compelling one. Now, since I have stated publicly that they Jays, given their 2010 salary obligations, need to avoid long-term high-dollar contracts but Manny is in a special category.

On an emotional level, without any consideration of budgets, 98.7 percent of Jays fans would be thrilled with the signing of Manny. The reasons why he would be willing to join the Jays have been discussed at length and the transformitive effect he would have on the Jays line-up are so obvious as to make a discussion of them unnecessary. Suffice it to say he would instantly become the best hitter in the history of the franchise.

The question is, as it has always been - money.

Manny and his agent Scott Boras dismissed the Dodgers' offer of 2 years and $45 million and don't seen any more impressed with the suggestion of a third option year that takes the deal to $60 million. Boras had earlier implied a 5 year/$85 million deal was a reasonable goal. That's $17 million a year, so let's see if we can work with that.

As I noted Wednesday, if one assumes the jays payroll will not be allowed to exceed $100 million over the next 3-4 years, the Jays have about $19 million in hand right now and will likely add a couple more when Frasor and Tallet are moved along. In 2010 they only have about $3 million to spare. After 2010, several high value contracts come off the payroll. if we assume Halladay is extended before then and make some reasonable guesses about the shape of the roster, it seems likely that they would be somewhere in the low 80's (albeit with no obvious internal option for shortstop unless Jackson is rushed through the system). After 2011, it's useless to speculate except to note that in general terms a lot of positions will be filled by inexpensive players. One may note in passing that Wells' opt-out is in play after 2011 too (and don't assume he won't exercise it).

So, here's the deal I propose to work with:

Four years plus an option for a fifth (since Boras seems hung up on five years). $19 million a year for the first four years, and a $4 million buyout of the fifth year, or $10 million in the fifth year. That's at least $80 million and potentially $86 million.

What does it take to afford this? Well, let's assume that a natural normal progression of payroll on a "static" budget (i.e. all payrolls - except the Marlins - have a slight upward drift) would be about 5% year-over-year.

2009: A 5% increase over 2008's $98 million would be a $103 million budget. With $81 million projected for current players, and the opportunity to gain a couple million by moving Tallet and Frasor, that puts the money available at $24 million. Give $19 million to Manny and you have about $5 million to work with for other needs.

2010: A 5% increase over 2009 sets the budget at $108 million. A reasonable projection of the current roster, plus Manny making $19 million, would total $116 million. But as noted in the previous article, Overbay and Ryan are easily replaceable players who could and should be dealt before spring training 2010 begins. That saves $17 million and gives the GM $9 million to work with should the team have other needs (and frankly, the needs between 2009 and 2010 should be very minor barring a big injury).

2011: Add another 5% and you are at $113.5 The presumed low-80's figure, plus Manny, equals about $100 million. That team would project, as of what we know right now, to have a rookie 3B and continued uncertainty at SS but again, it doesn't project to be a payroll that is exorbitantly more expensive than 2009 and 2010. There is some uncertainty in this projection (the further out you go the more guesswork is involved) but not $13 million worth.

2012: Another 5% takes you to $119 million. for the sake of this discussion, I'll assume Wells doesn't opt out after 2011 ( I won't go into the reason here why Wells might opt out, but it's very much more possible than most people assume). As a VERY rough guess, looking ahead to who the Jays will try to retain through their arb years, having Manny here would lead one to think that the payroll for 2012 would have to be somewhere in the $120's. That would be somewhat over budget if Wells stays.

Quibble the numbers a little either way - take out your calculator and run it again with a 3% increase or a 7% increase if you want - the point is that if Rogers is willing to commit to a 5-7% annual increase in salary, the jays can afford to give Ramirez and Boras what they want.

Now, the calculation is over my head but, will Ramirez drive enough revenue to wash out that payroll increase? Will he put enough more fannies in the seats and etc to account for some $40 million more in payroll (over that hard $100 million cap) spread over 4 seasons? My hunch is that the answer to that question is yes. If not all of it, enough of it so as to make the difference negligible.

So, bottom line? Yes - the Jays can afford it. They can afford to outbid the other mentioned contenders for Manny Ramirez without much payroll gymnastics at all. And they should. Even if one argues he'll decline in the out years, he's a guy who's OPS+ routinely runs in the 150-170 range. If you get two years of that, and two years in the 120-130 neighborhood, your money is well spent. Of course there is a chance that he'll fall completely off the table by 2012 and you'll have $19 million (plus the buyout) tied up in an unproductive player - but you might have won a World Series in the meantime too. The Jays ownership risk more annual salary in 2012 and beyond on a much lesser hitter when they signed Vernon Wells - it would be criminal if they blinked on doing so for a hitter of Manny's caliber.

Note well, though - this is NOT an argument for spending big money on any other free agent. throwing an eight figure salary at a Burnett or a Ben Sheets or a Derick Lowe would be insanity. no one else out there on the market can change the completion of a team the way Manny can.

Once the pretense of perusing Burnett is thankfully finished, the Jays should step to the front of the pack on Ramirez and get it done.

~WillRain

UPDATE: I don't want to steal anyone else's good idea - so rather than edit it in I will only say, read the comments on this one as Ari has really added to this idea in his comment.

9 comments:

ari said...

if it helps to bring him here, they should consider frontloading the deal. and to accomplish that, just trade ryan now to the mets and take whatever prospects they are willing to give u. the jays with manny and downs closing is a much better team than with ryan and snider playing every day.

i'd feel a lot better about giving manny 4/80 if he made something like 27-23-17-13 by year.

The Southpaw said...

That's not a bad idea either. Very insightful. But I think 2010 is still a bit high in that breakdown. Take 3 or 4 million from 2010 and make it the buy-out on a fifth season that would be $10 if he stayed.

Then it would be 27-19-17-13-10(4)

4 years at 80 or 5 years at 86.

Anyone got JP's e-mail?

~WR

Clint said...

I can't see the Jays in for Manny, after reading Shi Davidi's article for the Canadian Press where Beeston sounds rather reserved about spending AJ’s left over money if he walks and JP's comments in Rosenthal's latest column:

"If the Jays lose Burnett?"

"At that point, we may just re-evaluate where we're at," Ricciardi said. "The economy is not good. I don't know if we were going to be a player on some things."

Combined with several other articles lately (the globe and sun with the same general tone), I'm getting the general feeling that the Jays are going to sit tight this year, go with what they have, and play for 2010. I can't see any chance of going after Manny, the tone of the latest set of comments from Jay’s management, including Godfrey who emphatically stated there would be no payroll increase this year, is that they are preparing fans to concede the 09 season, and perhaps look to regroup in 2010.

Clint said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clint said...

These are some of the articles I'm basing the above on:

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Baseball/MLB/Toronto/2008/11/12/7388011-cp.html

http://www.thestar.com/Sports/Baseball/article/537484

http://slam.canoe.ca/Slam/Baseball/MLB/Toronto/2008/11/12/7389096.html

http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/8797906/Sources:-Pads,-Yanks-had-'numerous'-Peavy-talks-?CMP=OTC-K9B140813162&ATT=3498

http://www.globesports.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081105.wspt_jays06/GSStory/GlobeSportsBaseball/home

http://hotstove.mlblogs.com/archives/2008/11/how_cc_offer_could_affect_jays.html

The Manute Bol Experience said...

Clint,

The point isn't whether the Jays will sign Manny, its that they should sign Manny.

I think we all know he's not coming to Toronto, barring some miracle.

The Southpaw said...

In one of those articles - can't remember which - the big-wig who spoke at Beeston's PC said the company was "committed to winning" and the writer went on to speculate pretty much just the opposite - that the team might decide they couldn't compete and slash payroll.

I saw nothing in the comments he quoted which indicated that - indeed, I saw more subtle allusion to the possibility of increased spending (far more so) than to the possibility of cutting back.

Beeston said - quite correctly - that sometimes the circumstances of the market took the choice out of your hand - but I see a lot more writer speculation that the Jays won't raise the payroll in the right situation than I do official indication.

Look, the Jays are (insincerely probably) offering to spend $16 million out of a presumed $19 million available on AJ. Is that the sort of deal you put on the table if you are not willing to raise payroll?

Not in my judgment.

~Will

SP said...

OR

Ted Rogers could not be a penny-pinching billionaire d-bag and spend some money on his team.

I've been advocating a three year spending spike where the avg payroll is about $120 million through 2011. Is that really much to ask for in the AL East with a billionaire owner? We all know this team has the pieces in place and just needs some money for the nails in the coffin. A three year window for contention is all I'm asking for. With $120 million we can easily get Manny, a starter, a starting SS, and extend Doc.

Then after 2011, a bunch of big contracts will have expired in 2010 (Rolen, Ryan, Overbay), Wells might opt-out, Doc could possibly be traded (ugh), and so they can lower the payroll back down to $90 million or so since the team will be filled mostly with good, cheap, controllable youth anyway. Three years of $90 million payrolls until 2014 would then have a 6 year payroll average of...$105 million, which is much less than what the payroll would be anyway with natural 5% progressions!

This is all just a long way of saying, "Structure a 6 year payroll arc and put more weight on the first 3 years to give ourselves a window of contention". But this will never happen because it just makes too much sense.

Jays2010 said...

I don't see Manny taking less than 3/70, 4/85, 5/95...someone will give him one of those (probably 4/85). As I've said on a bunch of threads, the Jays can afford it and maintain the $110 mill payroll (perhaps slightly more with incermental increases) that seems to be established beginning with Vernon's first $20 mill yr in 2010 if they trade Overbay and Ryan, but they'd have relatively no payroll flexibility without another payroll spike. I'd be all for it...but its a major gamble and who knows which Manny u r gonna get...the one who went insane in LA or the one who hit for around a .900 OPS for Boston between 07-08.

I see very few free agents that have the upside the Jays probably need to gamble on to make the playoffs (Manny, Furcal, Sheets) and somehow I doubt we get any of them...but if Manny were signed and JP acquires a couple of startes (i.e. trades Lind for Sanchez and signs Brad Penny) We could be pretty fuckin dangerous if everything goes right