This morning at (Insider Only) the one and only (hopefully) Jim Bowden began looking ahead to the trade deadline, which is only about six weeks away, coming up with a list of the top twenty pitchers who could be traded.

It should come as no surprise that two names on it belong to members of the Toronto Blue Jays– unless, of course, you’re surprised it isn’t more. Josh Johnson, a free-agent-to-be on a club looking to retool and already armed with a bunch of young… er… arms either returning to health or getting very close to the Majors for 2014, is there and makes perfect sense.

Sure, the Jays could hold onto him and try to extend him, or cross their fingers that he stays healthy and productive enough through the end of the season to be worth a qualifying offer that would either retain some productive form of him or net a draft pick next year. But… seems to me that the Jays could probably use picking up some assets that will help them in the near term, even if they payoff ceiling may not be quite as high as yet another early round draft selection who’ll be just about hitting his peak around in 2020, when Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of the front office would be naive to assume anything but that they’ll be long, long gone.

Bowden evidently thinks so too, placing the likelihood of Johnson being traded at 70%– tied with Scott Feldman for the third-highest percentage on the list, behind Ricky Nolasco (95%) and Matt Garza (90%).

More interesting, however, is the fact that Mark Buehrle’s name is on the list. And more more interesting is what he says about the Jays’ expensive left-hander.

And by interesting I, of course, mean batshit:

“His contract makes him difficult to trade unless it’s a bad-contract-for-bad-contract arrangement, which is why Andre Ethier-for-Buehrle rumors have started to flow.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t disagree that if the Jays are going to move Buehrle, a big part of the deal is going to be financial. Obviously. On July 31st he’ll be owed the remaining 40% of his 2013 salary, which amounts to $4.4-million, plus $18-million in 2014 and $19-million for 2015.

It’s a fucking pig of a backloaded deal, so they’re going to have to eat money or take back garbage to get anything of value for Buehrle– if they feel he’s not going to be worth keeping, which I actually doubt, given his durability, his ability to get by (as he’s done his entire career) throwing in the mid-80s, and the fact that it appears he may have turned a corner, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, and averaging six-and-a-half innings per start over his last six appearances, holding opponents to a .628 OPS.

And Ethier’s deal is indeed garbage. I could expound on that for quite some time and using quite a number of cuss words, but let’s just do one of those lazy Player-A / Player-B things.

Here are the numbers against right-handed pitching in 2012 and 2013 for a couple of left-handed bats who have demonstrated pretty clearly in their careers that they’re platoon guys:

Player A: 541 PA, 11.1 BB%, 15.5 K%, .878 OPS, .328 BABIP, .374 wOBA, 141 wRC+
Player B: 428 PA, 10.7 BB%, 16.8 K%, .832 OPS, .321 BABIP, .358 wOBA, 126 wRC+

The numbers are somewhat close, though pretty clearly Player A has been better. Thing is, though, now look at their contracts going forward:

Player A: 14:$15.5M, 15:$18M, 16:$16M, 17:$18M, 18:$17.5M club option ($2.5M buyout)
Player B: 14:$7M club option ($2M buyout),15:$7.5M club option ($1M buyout), 16:$8M club option ($0.5M buyout)

Bit of a difference now, right? The club with Player A’s contract is on the hook for $70-million– considerably more than the $37-million left on Buehrle’s deal after 2013.

The club with the slightly worse Player B owes him just $3.5-million if they buy out his options at the end of this year, or they can go year-to-year with him on much smaller salaries than what Player A is being paid, and no long term commitments beyond the buyout money.

And if you’re looking at just this year’s stats, in nearly the same number of plate appearances against right-handers (171 versus 162) Player B becomes even more attractive, having posted a .381 wOBA and 142 wRC+, as compared to the vastly more expensive Player A’s .310 and 99.

Oh yeah, and if you’re the Jays you don’t have to give up a single thing to get Player B, because it’s Adam fucking Lind. (Player A is, rather obviously, Ethier).

Now, granted, Lind doesn’t really have a position, and therefore can’t allow Melky Cabrera to slide over to DH the way that, in some insane parallel universe where this trade isn’t fucking laughable, Ethier could. But come on.

Come the fuck on.

And while this year’s sample against left-handers is far too microscopic to go suggesting that there’s still hope Lind might not even be a platoon guy, since way back to 2011 his .290 wOBA against LHP looks downright fucking respectable when compared to Ethier’s .262 over that span.

So… yeah. No. Not a thing. Not even close to a thing. No way.

Comments (60)

  1. I agree with you. I just have this one weird thought – which I could be totally off base about.

    If Buehrle was placed on waivers, would anyone claim him and his contract? I highly doubt it.

    If Ethier was placed on waivers… I can see it. If I’m right about that, I suppose that would mean Ethier has a bit of trade value, and in a value-sense, might be an upgrade.

    Could absolutely be wrong about that. Can’t see it happening regardless.

  2. I dont’ know much about Ethier’s defense, but I haven’t heard good things. You might even be able to turn Adam (fucking) Lind back into a passable LFer and save some trouble that way too.
    Plus Lind is younger.

  3. I don’t see anything of value coming back for Buerhle, and his rebound is probably for real anyways – since it tells a story of him returning to what he did for the last 3 years.

    I don’t know what value a trade for Johnson is, his value is at its valley. Would probably be better off Qualifying him, assuming he is bound to depart from the club next year.

    I’m hoping the season gets us a few games above .500, and the May-onward record is high enough to convince corporate to keep spending. Lots of good FAs loom for 2014, and in positions we need.

    • Cough catcher cough second base cough

    • Thing about banking on the qualifying offer is that you risk losing him for nothing if, for example, over the last two months of the year he gets hurt and isn’t even worth the $14-million. Plus, as I said, they’re better off with assets that can help in the near term. Not saying draft schmaft, but it just makes more sense to get something that can help the 2014 club– for their sake, and the front office’s, seeing as they’re already all-in.

      • “There’s no such thing as a bad one year contract” – Andrew Stoeten, two days ago

        • +1. I like qualifying him. (Potentially) good pitching is tough to get, and you dont lose him for nothing either way.

        • Oh fuck off. If he needs Tommy John or something and your plan was to offer him $14-million and either get him or a draft pick, you’re up shit creek. Not at all the same thing.

          • Assuming that he gets hurt doesn’t make for a very good argument here, what if the asset you get back in any trade needs TJ? Not saying I disagree with trading him, but your reasoning that he could get hurt if you don’t trade him isn’t very strong.

            • It is Josh Johnson, he is always hurt…

              • Unless the Jays want to seriously revamp their fitness/training injury prevention programme ala the Rays programme, where they’ve had only THREE TJ surgeries
                in the last 10 years, what’s the point? Trading JJ and finding another arm to replace him is just rearranging deck chairs. In fact had JJ been on a Rays-like programme since he arrived at Spring Training there’s a high probability he’d be ok right now and they’d be trying to re-sign him. And Morrow and maybe Dickey would probably be healthy too and by extension, the playoffs we were talking about last November,..well they would most likely be within reach.
                If you just go over the Jays pitching staff for the past 10 years and think about injuries you come up with names like Marcum, and BJ Ryan and Chris Carpenter, Dustin MacGowan, Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch. Talking about whether to trade JJ and when becomes moot if he’s healthy and throwing to his potential.

  4. Who’s the lady in the photo? She’s crazy hot. And yes, I know I’m a pig.

  5. Man, if that contract was like two years shorter I actually kind of like the prospect of a high-OBP OF. But by my quick-and-dirty mental math, that’s $37M for $70M. Are the Dodgers really going to finance that? Maybe if they pay $5M of the Ethier contract EVERY SINGLE YEAR it starts to make sense.

    And then I remember that the Jays are running out Esmil Rogers and the ghost of Chein-Ming Wang every fifth day, and I think I can handle overpaying Buehrle for a couple of seasons.

  6. I know Melky as DH makes a lot of sense right now because he has a strained hamstring and runs like he’s knee deep in tapioca, but is he really completely untenable as a LF? Wasn’t he in center for the Royals? At the very least he was a centerfielder for the Braves and Yankees…

    • I think Melky was mistaken for a CFer by those teams. I don’t recall him ever being particularly good in CF.

      Though I do think he’s good enough for now in LF.

  7. This is just Bowden being an idiot, who cares. We have no pitching, AA’s not trading our most consistent starter for a platoon player with a worse contract. There’s no room for Ethier, we already have Adam Lind as you say Stoeten.

  8. If you guys need a little chuckle, look up Melky on wikipedia and read what he hit in AA for NYY

    • What is so funny. That someone wrote in his average to four decimal places instead of three?

      • Meh. I laughed. I pictured a guy with a thick german accent screaming the 4-digit batting average at me.

  9. I think everyone is missing the big picture here. Andre Ethier sucks now and the Dodgers also suck. That’s hilarious given that their payroll is completely and laughably insane.

  10. Kelly shoppach???!?

  11. If AA is still a ninja he can swing:

    Buehrle, Boni & Maicer to LAD
    Dee Gordon (to play 2B) & Ted Lilly

    I don’t necessary want Lilly, but I want to see the look on his face when he gets traded back to Toronto with Gibby at the helm.

  12. If the Jays are going to float a $120 mil payroll, and Buerhle gives 200 IP with a 4ish ERA, then I’m fine with just keeping him and overpaying him. He’s really pitched well since that Tampa comeback game.

    • If you get could out from his contract and get nothing back..including no return contract…I say you do it. The only reason they took him in the first place is because he was the bad money needed to acquire reyes

      • Actually, Reyes was the bad money needed to get Reyes. Buerle was the bad money needed to get Johnson.

        • Mark,
          remember the day you wrote this,
          and think of it two months from now when reyes is your favorite player and the best shortstop in the AL

          • I think Mark’s right on this one. Miami was probably more than happy to get rid of Reyes’s salary, regardless of whether it provided value.

      • You’re forgetting that with inflation and TV money rapidly expanding the $/WAR formula, Buerhle becomes slightly less overpaid each year. He’ll still obviously be incredibly overpaid for what he is (4th starter extraordinaire) but considering that we’ve been given a crash course in the world of pitching depth you’d think you would take more pause in eliminating a legitimately durable starting pitcher for some unnecessary salary relief.

        Also he outdueled Darvish last week and looks like Adam Lind’s big kitten brother.

        The fuck is you on about? Buerhle is pretty rad.

        • + Billions and Billions…The guy is and will be worth every damn last cent. Quite obviously people arent getting how valuable 200 IP’s is to winning. It wins games you wouldnt ordinarily win and keeps you in games you wouldn’t otherwise be in. It saves your BP for the SP who cant quite go 4 IP’s the next day. If they can get Dickey back that’s 400 IP’s .

  13. I have to agree with Stoeten. I do think, despite JJ’s valley in terms of value at the moment, that the Jays will deal him for something, not sure what but I don’t think he stays a Bluejay after the trade deadline, UNLESS JJ, and his agent, see the writing on the wall and realize that JJ may indeed be an injury prone potential guy and decide to cash in for far less than he might otherwise get on the FA market this winter. So, he’ll be traded.

  14. I actually think now would kind of be an intriguing time to talk contract extension with JJ. If JJ has a terrible, injury ridden season it’s hard to imagine he’s going to get Anibal Sanchez (or whoever) money.

    Maybe he’d be willing to sign a 1 year extension now, to give him more time to show he’s healthy, and improve his eventual pay day.

    • AA would never do it without an option or two.

      I’d buy in for $8-$10 million with two $15 mill options.

      • Actually. Now that I think about it. JJ would probably never go for this.

        Haren signed for what? $13 million with no options? Riyals actually have up assets for Santana at $13 million. JJ would probably command close to the same.

        • JJ’s getting 13.75 mill this year. He’s having a lousy year and his value isn’t quite high. I think it’s very possible to extend him with a small raise..

  15. Lets trade for garza his value isn’t too high and be always pitched well here.

    Lets be fucking buyers.



  17. Blister Johnson pushed to Monday, Wang goes Sunday, per Gregor

  18. No way Jays are making a play for Ethier. Bowden needs to put that pipe down. There’s no place for that piece of shit on the Jays’ roster. Lind is raking right now, taking up the DH/1B position, where LF is safely secured by Cabrera’s bad hammy’s.

    The only team that likes having insane contracts is the same team Ethier currently plays “corpse” for. He’s not going anywhere.

  19. Romero ha d a good game today since going back to the old mechanics

  20. Really though, how the fuck does this even play? If you’re not going to keep Lind on his increasingly better looking contract (who the fuck would have thought anyone would have suggested that when he went unclaimed on waivers last year), Melky plays as a shite DH. Perhaps his stats would be better if he didn’t have to hobble around on the turf with his hamstrings, but he is only signed for one more year anyways and is increasingly becoming more evident that his stats last year were *enhanced* (I mean look at the guys ISO +1 for AA signing him to such a club friendly 2 yr deal. But anyways, Fuck Ethier and his fucking albatross of a deal, pick up Linds option and bat him against nothing but righty’s and throw Rajai in there for the lefty’s. Fucking Beuhrle is our best (2nd?? fucking Esmil!) starter right now and while his contract is huge for the next couple of years, he is exactly the player Stoeten says he is, a reliable guy who will throw the ball decently for your team every 5 days. That contract is a sunk cost and trading it for Ethiers is basically a bullshit move IMO.

  21. I think everyone is being a little narrow minded. Dump Buehrle’s contract and trade Adam Lind while he’s still hitting over .300. It doesn’t really matter if you get good prospects back. This gives you $25 mil of extra payroll to spend this off season on Carlos Ruiz and Ricky Nolasco.

    And trading JJ is a no-brainer. Why would you want to resign a guy with declining velocity who can’t throw a breaking ball for strikes, who is getting shit-canned night after night because of it.

  22. [...] start with Buehrle. Andrew Stoeten at DJF did a very nice job clearing up the Jim Bowden insanity when Bowden suggested in his ESPN article (Insiders only) that the Jays could trade Marky Mark for [...]

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