Friday, January 21, 2011

Separate Ways (Worlds Apart in Salary Arbitration)

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"Here we stand, worlds apart, hearts broken in two, two, two."
It's not every day that a Journey lyric leads off a blog post here, but I thought this one was rather poignant regarding the Blue Jays arbitration cases.

Before we get to the focus of this post, let me start off with my two cents on this song. I don't care what anybody says about Journey; the guitar riff and keyboard solo on this track are amazing.

And although Steve Perry is the centrepiece of this video, my favourite character is the keyboardist; Jonathan Crain. Not only does he perform the long lost art of air keyboarding, but at the 54 second mark Crain is demonstrating a move which resembles that of a cat playing a keyboard.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand ...

The Blue Jays didn't come to terms with Jason Frasor and Jose Bautista, and thus they will go to arbitration if they cannot come to an agreement before the hearings. From what I understand, deals can still be signed before arbitration, which basically negates the whole point of having a deadline ... doesn't it?

Jose Bautista's case is pretty straight forward: he and his agent Bean Stringfellow (no, seriously, that's his name) believe he's worth $10.5 million, and the club believes he's worth $7.6 million. I truly believe if this goes to arbitration, they will rule in favour of the Blue Jays.

Jason Frasor's arbitration case however, is much more complicated. There are some interesting conspiracy theories out there, one such proposed by the Tao of Stieb that this is merely setting the Blue Jays up to trade Frasor this offseason.

I can definitely see that as a possibility, as it doesn't make much sense why the Blue Jays and Jason Frasor couldn't bridge the gap for a paltry $500,000 dollars. Much like Parkes said over at Getting Blanked, there's no reason why the club couldn't concede that cash.

If the Jays can inexplicably give Yunel Escobar a raise from $435,000 to $2.9 million, then they can afford to shell out an extra 500K for Frasor. It's the least to ask from a guy who's spent his entire seven year career with the Toronto Blue Jays thus far.

There must be an ulterior motive here, whether it's sending a message to players that the club isn't afraid of going to salary arbitration anymore, or if it's just that the Blue Jays are biding time to find a suitor for Jason Frasor.

Alex Anthopoulos already said that the door has closed on working out a one-year contract, so either they're negotiating with Jason Frasor on a multi-year deal, or they're anticipating the arbitrators will rule in favour of the club, and then the wheels can be set in motion for a trade.

Again, this is entirely just speculation on my part, and maybe we're just fabricating a scenario that AA hasn't even fathomed. I'm definitely guilty of tending to overthink things in the offseason due to the fact that there's a surplus of time to ponder about these scenarios.

Whether or not the Blue Jays do in fact work out a contract with Jose Bautista and Jason Frasor remains to be seen. But by ending the arbitration streak at 13 years, Alex Anthopoulos has set a new precedent for negotiations in the future.

For any players wishing to play hardball at salary arbitration, it seems that AA has echoed this message which can be found within the lyrics of Separate Ways;
"If you must go, I wish you love. You'll never walk alone,
Take care my love, Miss you love".

7 comments:

  1. The escobar raise isn't inexplicable. This was his first year eligible for arbitration. First time players often get huge raises. If you look at what esco did in his time in Atlanta garnering mvp votes last year he has a pretty strong resume even with the disappointment this year. While 2.9 did seem a little high compared to some of the other raises, I can't say I was overly surprised there.

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  2. That Journey video is great, I always forget how cheesy those 80's videos were. At the time it was pretty cool, but then again, so was Night Rider, The A-team and the Dukes of Hazard.

    As for Frasor, I think all of you guys are reading way too much into the Jays inability to avoid arbitration with him. I expect he will be with the team for the season, and I do think the Jays value his services and aren't about to release him or anything like that.

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  3. A Frasor trade would be great. He's a solid reliever so he'd be missed but AA seems to 'win' every trade, especially for the future.

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  4. I think the great thing about this self-imposed deadline lets other teams in the MLB know how much they'd have to pay relievers on the high end of the scale.

    Right now, the reliever market has dried up, so Frasor is a high sought commodity, and while teams were unwilling to give up a 1st rounder (even with Downs, the Angels only surrendered a 2nd rounder), they may be willing to part with one lower level prospect equal to the value of a type B.

    The Jays could be forced into a revolving scenario like this if Frasor continues to maintain his Type A status, so this may be the best time to get some value out of Frasor.

    If AA hadn't imposed this deadline, there wouldn't be a "trade window" opening of this nature (from now until the Feb. hearings).

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  5. jans4, ah yes ... now that explains it. I just thought it was odd there was such a huge spike from just above league minimum to $2.4. I keep forgetting he had 3 solid seasons in ATL.

    Peter, no word of a lie, when I was writing this post, I must've watched that video over about 10 times or so. It's so cheesy that it's great.

    Not sure what the deal is with Frasor, maybe we are all reading WAY too much into the situation.

    Mattt, the plus side for teams who were interested in Frasor at the trade deadline last year and even going into free agency is now they don't have to surrender the draft pick to get him.

    GCM1979, you took the words right out of my mouth (see above). Worst case scenario is the arbitrator rules in favour of Frasor and the Jays have to pay $3.75 million for him. Not a bad side effect at all!

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  6. Something was up with Frasor at the beginning of last year, that made him suck and blow at the same time. However, his second half numbers are almost exactly the same as 2009:

    2009: 2.50 ERA/1.02 WHIP
    2nd half 2010: 2.48 ERA/1.10 WHIP

    If the Jays do deal Frasor now, I think they would be selling low on him.

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  7. Peter, Frasor really only had a bad first three weeks of the season, and it was clear sailing from there.

    I still can't believe Cito took the closer's role from him after just 5 appearances.

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