As you might have heard, the Jays shipped JA Happ off to Seattle a few hours ago for Michael Saunders. A mere two days after mentioning on live radio that he didn't envision trading any member of his rotation. At first blush, as I tweeted to Andrew Stoten, I didn't like it - I figured Happ was worth more than that. But upon further consideration, several factors jumped out.
- The market is skewed. There's an abundance of mid-rotation SP options, a dearth of OF options. That makes the former less valuable, relative to the market, and the latter more so.
- The financial savings are significant.Saunders makes $3.8m less than Happ in 2015 (and has an extra year of control Combined with the fact that it also takes them out of the picture on Melky Cabrera - whom they had already reportedly offered 3/39 without success and the swing is over $14m.
- the defensive upgrade is significant. Saunders actually projects to a HIGHER WAR than Cabrera in 2015, thanks largely to the glove. That's before any rivision for home park.
- Speaking of home park, that stands to make a not inconsiderable difference in theoretical offensive expectations. While my initial lack of enthusiasm was based on the fear that 2014 was the offensive outlier of his career, Mike Wilner points out that Saunders' road OPS over the last three seasons is .780 - and in a depressed offensive environment, that'll play. Among qualifying AL left fielders, that would have come in at #4 last year.
- Kevin Pillar stands ready to protect him from LH pitching if need be. AA anointed him the "everyday left fielder" but his splits show weakness versus lefties so it would behoove the Jays to keep that in mind.
- Saunders just passed his 28th birthday and most observers feel he hasn't yet approached his talent level. Cabrera will be 30 next year and we know what he is
- In 62 plate appearances at Skydome (yeah, I said it!) his OPS is .888 (SS caveat of course)
In other news...
The Blue Jays shaved $6.5m off their projected payroll next year by non-tendering Justin Smoak, Andy Dirks, and John Mayberry, Jr. last night. Then spent one of those to bring Smoak back with an apparent intent to commit to him as the most-days first baseman in 2015. I'm not prepared to argue that the Jays can release the hitter that scouts saw when he was one of the 10 or 15 best prospects in baseball, but apparently they think the see something. AA says his analytics people think they can get a lot of offensive upside out of him. Let's hope they are right.
Looking ahead towards potential lineups, there's a couple of obvious options:
8. Izturus/Tolison (Travis?)
or plan B
8. Izturus/Tolison (Travis?)
The latter in the situation in which Saunders shows himself maximizing his OB skills while Martin goes back to hitting more like a catcher, OR if Gibby decides he wants the best use out of Saunder's speed.
As always, of course, so far...