Last night, after the news about the Wednesday return of Jose Reyes broke, I left the post with a “MORE FORTHCOMING!” tag and began writing about some of the possibilities to get sent down when the club makes its reciprocal move. By the time I was done, though, it was far too late to bother updating the post and hoping that anyone would take a second look. So we’ll do it all now in it’s own post, because… y’know… content.
Take it away, me!
. . .
The recall of Reyes will spell the end for one current member of the 25-man roster who’ll either find himself bused down to the minors, or released outright from the club. Of course, as Shi Davidi notes, it’s not just a 25-man spot that will need to be cleared:
Aside from making room on 25-man roster for Jose Reyes, #BlueJays also must clear spot on 40 since they placed SS on the 60-day DL
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) June 25, 2013
Don’t be so fast to think that changes anything, though, especially for someone like Munenori Kawasaki– who is one of the few demotion candidates with options remaining.
Currently the Jays have minor leaguers Thad Weber, Mickey Storey, Michael Schwimer and Todd Redmond on the 40-man, none of whom would be terribly troubling losses– and most of whom, frankly, aren’t likely to last through the summer on the team anyway, with Kyle Drabek, J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison, Luis Perez and Sergio Santos all eventually (presumably) needing to reclaim their 40-man spots. (They could also move Ramon Ortiz– or even Brandon Morrow, if they felt it was safe to assume he’s more than 30-odd days from returning– to the 60-day DL).
I suppose it could be tempting for the club to attempt to clear this all up in one move, removing Juan Perez from the 40-man and hoping he manages to get through waivers. Thing is, there are two ways to look at the potential D’ing FA of Perez, which… is actually what you could say about any of the potential candidates for demotion. There are several possibilities, and none– despite the arguments you’ll get from pretty much everyone– that particularly stands out as the most palatable. At least in my opinion. Or, at least, it didn’t when I started writing all this.
Let’s have a look at the demotion candidates, starting with Perez…
Pro: Perez has pitched effectively all year, and did so again last night. He may be old and out of options, but he may also have discovered something new since moving to the organization. According to the raw, uncorrected Pitch F/X data on his FanGraphs page (because the adjusted data tells a different story), Perez has thrown a tonne more two-seamers than ever before this year (47% to a previous high of 14%) and has thrown his slider less. The adjusted data moves the two-seamers into the four-seamer category, but shows him having thrown 60% fastballs, with his previous usage rates hovering in the high-40s. Is he throwing differently? Thing is, he’s had so few big league innings it’s hard to believe anything in the sample of data we’re looking at. Still, maybe he’s onto something and the Jays think someone will swipe him away if they try to pass him through waivers– not good if he really is some kind of Delabar-esque project they’re starting to see the fruits of.
Con: The track record on Perez suggests he’s not going to be able to keep this up, and he’s slightly redundant as the fourth left-hander in an eight-man bullpen– even one that’s been going as well as the Jays ‘pen has of late. They’ve gotten some nice value out of him, but does anybody really believe he’s more than just a warm body? This is a guy with more walks than innings pitched during his previous two big league cups of coffee, and not exactly a glowing MLB record from his coffee cups before that– which, incidentally, came way back in 2006 and ’07.
Pro: Sports a .357 OBP against right-handers; takes excellent, grinding at-bats that help add elevate opponents’ pitch counts; should be a capable option at second (he logged some innings there in Seattle); can spell Reyes if they choose to ease him back into the lineup; if you’re ever going to nudge a few points into a guy’s column for congeniality (and, reportedly, work ethic), this seems about as good a guy to do it with. (Of course, you really shouldn’t do that).
Con: A redundant second baseman with Izturis, Bonifacio and DeRosa on the roster (though, offensively, a Kawasaki/DeRosa platoon may be the best option); provides by far his most value by playing short, which is obviously no longer tenable; unable to play third (as Izturis and DeRosa can) or the outfield (like Bonifacio can); still just a 68 wRC+ over 300 MLB plate appearances, which is still less than career marks for Bonifacio and Izturis and much less than the top seasons from those two. Most importantly, he can be optioned down, so the organization won’t lose him, unlike their other middle infielders.
Pro: We haven’t seen the best of Bonifacio, though it’s not like a whole lot of people have. The 109 wRC+ he posted in 2011 seemed like something to dream on after we convinced ourselves his 2012 numbers were too injury-ravaged to take seriously, but it’s looking more and more– especially with it’s .372 BABIP, compared to this year’s .262– like an outlier. Still, he’s better than what we’ve seen; he’s a nice pinch running option for situations when Rajai Davis is already playing or has spelled an ailing Melky Cabrera; he can handle the outfield, second, and short passably– though he’ll be exposed playing at any of those spots too often. He’s a valuable, versatile piece and would be lost via waivers if they attempted to demote him– and would leave the club with just four outfielders, one of whom is struggling with his health, and another who can only hit left-handers.
Con: As noted, a pretty decent argument can be made that Bonifacio’s lone good season was a BABIP-driven outlier. As vaunted a member of The Trade and the club’s Dominican contingent as he was, it’s not terribly difficult to point to a lot of evidence that shows he kinda can’t hit and that the defence he plays, while at myriad positions, is sub-par across the board. He seems to have acquired the distinction of being a “Major Leaguer,” but I’m not entirely sure for what. I doubt the Jays would jettison him– they purport to love his energy and versatility– but would it be crazy?
Pro: McGowan still has that golden arm– or at least a reasonable facsimile– though he has issues with command still, and hasn’t yet entirely found himself again after years in the rehab wilderness, but talent is in there. He’s also been such a project for the Jays over the year, and was so richly rewarded for his perseverance, that to give up on him now– assuming he wouldn’t get through waivers– would seem foolish, and an affront to whatever good reasons they thought they were signing him for in the first place.
Con: Would he get claimed on waivers? With about $2.7-million still owed him and fewer than 25 big league innings since 2008, perhaps not. However, if my understanding of the CBA is correct– which, it’s safe to say, is a big if– that’s not so much the issue. McGowan has over six years of service time, which gives him certain rights. Specifically, if he clears waivers and the Jays attempt to assign him to a minor league affiliate, he can refuse the assignment and become a free agent. And because he has so much service time, “if he is released and signs with a new team,” Purple Row explains, “his previous team must pay the difference in salary between the two contracts if the previous contract called for a greater salary.” So, he could refuse the assignment, still get all the same money, and take a league-minimum deal with a club that might actually have use for him, while leaving the Jays to pay the rest. Not exactly optimal for the club, because… what’s McGowan got to lose in that situation?
… And The Rest
The Jays have a few other options, none of which I think need quite the expounding-on as the ones above.
- Maicer Izturis signed a three-year deal this off-season, can play third base, as well as short and second, and his play has picked up of late on both sides of the ball.
- Mark DeRosa was more the club’s “veteran presence” signing than Henry Blanco ever was, and he’s been a valuable hitter against left-handed pitching– I don’t think he’s going anywhere.
- Neil Wagner is a lightning-armed right-hander who is finally having some success, and though he has options, I think the fact that he’s currently the third-chair right-hander– ahead of McGowan, and as opposed to Perez, who is the fourth lefty– gives him a clear edge.
- Aaron Loup has options left, but… look at the numbers, he’s been a much better pitcher than most of our selective memories would care to believe, I’d bet.
- I suppose the Jays could also place Melky Cabrera and his painful-to-watch hamstrings on the DL for a stint, and hope that a bit of rest gets him back to where he needs to be. If he hasn’t by this point, though, I don’t think that’s going to happen, either.
Reading over what I’ve written about the possibilities here, I think I’m going to have to go ahead and believe that Juan Perez, at 34 years old, given his place on the depth chart and the fact that he’s only had anything resembling his current kind of big league success for 12 innings– plus the fact that in the tiny sample we’ve seen he’s walked batters at a lesser rate than not only his time at Buffalo this year, but than any of his minor league seasons (career low BB/9 was 2.6 at High-A in 2003, currently sits at 2.3 with the Jays)– is the one who should go.
I’m not sure the Jays will see it that way– or if I’m missing something CBA-related in my interpretation of McGowan’s situation– and it’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow, if you only think about the last few weeks of performance, but that seems the most sound move of any. To me, at least.
Of course, the bullpen could get torched tonight and the notion of dropping down to a seven-man ‘pen may seem quite a bit less palatable than it has of late, so… you never know. I guess we’ll see on Wednesday…