A massive issue for the Jays this winter is finding something tolerable to part with that may be enticing enough to make teams actually want to offer them anybody of value in return. That’s the prime reason why Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus have heard their names in a lot of chatter over the last few months, even if there’s no actual evidence that they’re being shopped. The idea of Bautista being dealt, as warm and fuzzy as it makes the dolts who somehow think they can divine through their TV a bunch of bullshit about Jose’s leadership abilities, is pretty nutty, as it would blow a gigantic hole in the club’s ability to score runs. Common sense, then, points to Rasmus as being one of the clubs most easily-shopped commodities, mostly because has a ready-made replacement in Gose, waiting in Buffalo– while still, also, uh, kinda waiting to learn how to hit.

About that, though.

Jays fans, for good reason, tend to believe that Gose simply isn’t ready for prime time. This year, in his brief turn in the big leagues, even the defensive metrics have turned against him! But here’s something interesting: in Buffalo this season Gose posted a line of .239/.316/.336, which was “good” for an 85 wRC+. This year Cleveland centre fielder Michael Bourn, in his second-worst defensive season as a full time player by UZR (2.5), had posted, as of Thursday (9/19), a startlingly similar line– .259/.312/.349, for a wRC+ of 86.

What’s interesting about that is that by both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference, to that point Bourn had been worth 1.8 wins above replacement in 2013.

Now… much like last year when I made this comparison (in a now-hilarious post where I stated I wouldn’t deal Gose and Arencibia for R.A. Dickey), I’m not trying to say Gose is necessarily going to be Bourn. It’s just, they profile pretty similarly, don’t they? Excellent defensive centre fielders who’ll strike out a lot, take a few walks, give you some speed on the bases and little power. In his career Bourn has never posted a wRC+ above 104, and yet he’s produced 21.5 wins above replacement, per FanGraphs. Since his 2009 breakout with the bat (in his age 26 season, it should be noted– which Gose won’t hit until 2017), among position players he’s been the 26th most valuable player in the big leagues by that metric, tied with Prince Fielder.

The defensive component of WAR fluctuates enough and provides so much of Bourn’s value, that I’m not going to take such a ranking as gospel, but Bourn is good– so good that, heading into his age 30 season, despite being a guy whose legs are his bread and butter, he landed a four-year, $48-million contract.

Another interesting note of comparison is the fact, previously noted, that Bourn’s offensive breakout came at age 26. At that point he’d amassed just over 2,000 plate appearances as a pro. Gose, on the other hand, just crossed the 3,000 mark in his pro career. That may be dispiriting… until you realize that Bourn was drafted out of college, and made his pro debut at age-20. Gose’s was at 17, and he amassed 1,200 of his pro plate appearances before his age-20 season.

That doesn’t mean Gose is necessarily going to break out in a big way at the exact same numer of plate appearances Bourn did, of course. And, unstated in all this, is the fact that putting this comparison on him means expecting a whole hell of a lot out of not just his defence, but his baserunning as well. In fact, in the BsR component used by FanGraphs’ WAR (which adds weighted stolen base runs and Ultimate Base Running rating) Bourn was top ten in baseball each year from 2009 to 2012, topping the metric by wide margins in two of those seasons. It’s a tall, tall order to be as good as he’s been, but those aren’t the aspects of Gose’s game that anybody has ever worried about.

In other words, if Gose can just translate his paltry age-22 line at Triple-A to the big leagues, he stands to be very valuable, and very much a bargain in terms of dollars-per-WAR– that is, if you think that the two competing versions of the composite of do a reasonable enough job of incorporating defensive metrics to trust that they’re close to the truth.

The question then becomes, how much do you believe any of this? How convinced are you, dreaming on the Bourn-like future potential of Gose, that you could part with Rasmus just as we start to get a taste of the hitter he could be? Conversely, how persuaded by these sorts of arguments might you think a rival GM might be? To the point where Gose, with his contract status and high-end potential, might even be more valuable than Colby? Or should the Jays maybe be thinking that too???

The sample is much to small, and too polluted by September at-bats, but Gose is currently at a 95 wRC+ in the big leagues this year.

Using the wOBA calculator at Crashburn Alley, if you combine Gose’s totals from his recall in September of last year, as well as his time in the big leagues this year (i.e. if you take away the awful time he had in his initial call-up), he’s posted a .318 wOBA as a big leaguer.

Obviously you can’t do that, and there are a whole lot of September plate appearances in a still very small sample (213 PA), but still!

Just don’t look at his splits against lefties!

The other big question is, what do you get for either of these guys? Is it better than Drew Hutchison or Marcus Stroman, or even Todd Redmond? Better than just throwing a little bit of money at someone like Scott Feldman or Ricky Nolasco?

I mean, it’s not like the White Sox are going to go nuts and be willing to deal Chris Sale for some package built around Gose– and that would be true even if they didn’t already have the same guy in Alejandro de Aza (.264/.321/.405 with a -4.0 defensive WAR component, and worth 2.0 wins). That speaks to another tricky dimension of this winter’s task, which almost makes me think that, on the pitching front, the Jays might even stand pat: unless they’re dealing Aaron Sanchez– which, FYI, would make a whole lot of people shit bricks, especially whichever GM has to come in and clean up the post-Anthopoulos mess– how are they going to be able to put together a package to not only meet the needs of a club that’s going to give them this otherworldly pitcher we’re dreaming on, but to beat out rival offers as well?

Gose and Sanchez, I think, give them their best shot, but… man. I could deal with giving up the former, even considering all the good stuff about him this post has reminded me of. Both, though? Like… can we maybe just spend some of Rogers’ money, please? Because as much as it was a thing to say that they’d gone “all in” on R.A. Dickey, um… trading for pitching in some probably-futile attempt to make a big push in 2014 really would do that, and just seems kind of dreadfully risky. Maybe not even worth doing. Shit.

Comments (57)

  1. Whatever AA does this offseason will be like last year: unpredictable

  2. I like the idea of packaging Gose and Sanchez for a starter just because of the LOOK WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE DARNAUD AND SYNDERGAARD TRADE LAST YEAR reaction pieces there would be.

  3. Interesting post.

    But if the Jays have this two to three year plan to contend, why trade a core piece on the team (Rasmus) and rely on–with fingers crossed– on the development of Gose with the hope that he will someday turn out to be that Bourn-type player? Sounds like a roll of the dice.

    • I”m kinda saying why trade either?

      • mostly because our other trade chips are from the thing that lacked the most this year, starting pitching and specifically starting pitching depth.
        Keeping both Gose and Rasmus appears to be counter productive, either you burn up Gose’s last option and play him in AAA until he learns to hit within himself (back to the more patient slap hitter he once was) or you take away his biggest value and take him out of full-time CF. I suppose letting him be a 4th OF makes some sense but it’s less optimal than having someone who can hit lefties as our back up CF.

        • I don’t see an issue with ‘burning’ his last option. Thats why young players have options, give him one last year in Buffalo and then make a decision July next year when you have a better idea where this team is going to go

          • Gose without options has Travis Snider like trade value if he doesn’t pair it with some big league success. That’s my only concern. Right now someone might view him as a player that they can work with but need one more year at Triple A to get the kinks out.

  4. This is a really good analysis. And it really underscores why the most logical play might ultimately be qualifying Johnson and bringing the same cast of characters back next year.

    I’d argue that it would be smarter to gamble that at least one of Morrow or Johnson will rebound into a legit top 3 than it would be to do another Dickey-type top prospects trade or sink top free agent term and dollars into someone who isn’t a a surefire stud. Plus, there’s a a ton of 4th/5th depth already, several of whom (Drabek, Hutchison, Stroman, maybe even McGowan) still have some upside.

    This would have the added advantage of saving all your trading chips to address the black holes at second and catcher, which should be an awful lot easier to fix. Heck, you might even get both from the Angels (Kendrick and Iannetta).

    • I’m okay with all of our randoms (Hutch, McGowan, Drabek, Stroman, Redmond, Happ, Romero) fighting for the 5th spot all year. And filling in for injureds.

      But you can’t devote 2 spots to weekly experimentation. Especially if/when you get an injury in one of the top 3 spots.

      We need a solid, healthy, 1 or 2 spot, pitcher.

    • I agree. 14 mil sounds like a lot for Johnson, but if he can even rebound to a two win pitcher (still far off his 6-7 win peak) it wouldn’t be that big of an overpay by a 5-7 mil/win metric. Look at AJ Burnett as a guy who had a couple of years in the wilderness and bounced back to be productive again. Johnson still has the stuff, and unlike Lincecum he still has the velocity on his fastball (still averaging around 93 if my memory serves), he just needs to throw strikes with the secondary stuff. Problem is I just don’t see another guy with 1-2 potential out there on the market who is a better fit and likely to take Toronto’s money.

  5. I think the bigger question is to extend Cletus.

    If it was my decision I’d do it mainly for 2 reasons.

    A.) He’s relatively young to be a free agent, if you signed him right after the season for 5 years you’d be buying out his age 27 – 31 seasons which should be fairly productive.

    B.) I’m a DRS guy, so I believe he’s a plus defender in centre. I think he can play good defence.

    In terms of hitting I think you’d have to live with some variability. Now if Colby and his agent told you to get lost, then because he’s a declining asset he probably should be moved.

    One good thing about Gose, is that he has options left and is still relatively young.

    • I’d wait until mid-season. If you can wait on EE, you can wait on Colbeh.

      • It’s kind of different, no? Edwin was in the midst of his breakout in that free agent year (though he showed some signs the second half of the year before). Colby’s breakout – if you believe it’s all real – is happening the year before.

        In other words, if Colby repeats this next year, it’s going to cost a lot more to sign him than it did to sign Edwin.

      • Perhaps you can wait on Colby, it really did work out quite well with Edwin. The flip side though is maybe you want some closure so as you can some make off- season plans, keep Gose and move Rasmus and a package for help at second, catcher or for a starter.

        • Honestly maybe it’s better to pay a bit more midway next year and get some certainty. I like Colby and do hope his breakout is for real but you can’t really ignore the the last two years. Might be better to make sure he can do this two years in a row, unless of course he’s willing to sign an incredibly team friendly extension (but why would he 1 year from free agency).

  6. If the Jays learned one thing this year… then they haven’t nearly gotten all the possible lessons. But depth is kind of important. And I’d rather not rely on Kevin Pillar at this point to be my out-of-position backup CF.

    I think for the most part that throwing money is the way to go. If there’s a bonafide ace that’s available in trade, obviously I’d consider moving pieces like these, but the truth is, I don’t think Gose + Sanchez is getting you that.

  7. I’m not sold on the defensive or positional adjustment components of WAR yet, at all. You know, the same ones that have JP and his all-time horrifically inept performance as being 0.0 bWAR.

    I hope they don’t trade Colby, but Gose hasn’t shown enough to justify keeping him around, if we can get anything out of him.

  8. What’s Tanaka estimated to post at? Realistic at all? Or pipe dream?

    • this. so much this.

    • I know KLaw et al. seem to have serious reservations about even giving this guy a shot in the bigs but I’ve watched a fair bit of video on him and his mechanics are (like most NPB standouts) really exceptional and he has a pretty wicked combo of movement and control on his slider. He’s a nice young pitcher and has all the marks of being durable with good control.
      Granted – control is really tough to judge in NPB due to it basically being >50% slap-to-contact hitters which artificially suppresses walks, but I’m not as sold that it artificially increases Ks, I think its more likely that late movement has a bigger impact in the literal arena of ‘missing bats’ and that Darvish succeeded using two different parts of his dominant skillset in the two different leagues.

      Basically I think Tanaka will come over and put up an ERA in the 4′s that will actually balance out to be something like an April May in the wilderness and a few dominant months. I think he’s the real deal, maybe neither an ace nor an innings guy but his stats in Japan really closelt resemble those of one former Dodger who any Jays fan would kill to have front their rotation. I seriously would stake some money that over the 3 years he’s likely to get that he exceeds 8 WAR; and that is me reining in my expectations.

  9. this sums it up well: “Like… can we maybe just spend some of Rogers’ money, please? Because as much as it was a thing to say that they’d gone “all in” on R.A. Dickey, um… trading for pitching in some probably-futile attempt to make a big push in 2014 really would do that, and just seems kind of dreadfully risky. Maybe not even worth doing. Shit.”

    it’s remarkably short-sighted to further deplete the farm system to take a risk on a starter and a chance on this 2014-2015 window.

    it makes alot more sense (and is in the longterm interest of the club) to sign free agents so you’re not screwing the team over for the next 5 years.

  10. At some point they have to trade someone. I’m not a real warm and fuzzy person and I don’t give a shit about his leadership abilities at this point. But I don’t think trading Bautista would blow as much of a hole through the Jays’ scoring abilities as you do. His output has been good but declining since its peak. EE has proved to be an excellent hitter. Rasmus certainly has that potential. It’s nice to have mashers but we need some guys who can hit for percentage and get on base as well. The RC is a launching pad, but so far no matter how many home runs we hit, and we hit loads, the team hasn’t gone anywhere.

    Bautista is a great player and he has a front-office-friendly contract. He’s high-profile. He might be exactly the piece the Jays need to obtain maybe a couple of the players they are going to have to get their hands on if the team is to succeed. He’s a great player and he’s competitive as hell. He is everything you would want which makes him valuable to a light-hitting team that thinks it needs one masher to put itself into contention.

    The Jays need–at the least–a 2nd-baseman, a catcher and at least one starting pitcher. They can take care of the starter by buying Garza and extending Johnson for a year. But the other positions are just as important and not so easy to find. If AA can get a decent return on him I think Bautista should be part of a trading conversation.

    • you’re prickly today

    • I agree with some of this actually. I think the idea of dealing Bautista at least has to be considered. I’m not against a move like moving rasmus to right for example. Also if I had a chance to get sale for Sanchez gose and some other shit I’d do it every day of the week and twice on Sunday

    • I don’t think you’re quite appreciating the production and value that Bautista provides.

      If you trade him, now YOU’RE the light-hitting team that is one masher away.

      • But we’re not one masher away. We’re a 2nd-baseman, a catcher and at least one starter away plus some decent bench guys because for sure we are gonna need them. What we’ve always had a lot of is mashers. And we would still have a couple left without Bautista. I think he’s a great guy and I’m a fan but I think he gets us a lot in a trade.

        • Bautista – 6.7 WAR, 7.7, 3.0, 4.2. = 21.6 WAR over 4 seasons some of which were injury shortened. Pretty much guaranteed 5+ WAR if he is healthy.

  11. I would back load a contract for Tanaka. No compensation pick. Throws soft so he’s likely durable.

    If the money is there (which it probably isn’t) give him a heavily back loaded deal. I could see him being another Mark Beuhrle.

    Don’t sell low on Gose. And for fuck sake don’t trade Sanchez. In 2 years time u could have both Sanchez and Tanaka in the same starting rotation.

  12. @isabellareyes:

    Your 2nd paragraph just made a case on the reasons why the Jays should keep #19.

    • Do you remember back when we had Halladay? He was the best pitcher in baseball. Ricciardi went on record saying he would trade anyone ‘not named Halladay’. Did we get any higher than 3rd? No we did not. A couple of years ago we had the most home runs scored in mlb. By miles. Did we finish higher than 4th? No we did not.

      No one should be untouchable. Not even #19.

      • ok, so the only offensive stat that matters is HR. you must be a fan of JPA.

        no one is untouchable, but it is very unlikely we’d get the right value back for Bautista and it would just create another hole for us.

        • See, it’s easy. You don’t get what you want you don’t trade him. I’m not saying give him away with a bag of popcorn. I am saying that he is not untouchable. No one should be.

  13. Long shot, but what if we could sign granderson? Granderson and Rasmus play LF/CF. Then pick up Lind’s option and flip him for a SP, C or Prospect and DH Melky?

  14. TANAKA. My cable bill just went up. Spend on TANAKA. no effect to ML ROSTER

  15. I don’t think the jays will re-sign Rajai, and instead use Gose as Rajai’s replacement – performing, essentially, the same role. Maybe someone goes down with an injury, Gose grabs the bull by the horns and shows that he can be an everyday guy. Something that Rajai failed to do, despite numerous opportunities.

    • Unfortunately Gose can’t play the lefty-hitting platoon to Lind role, but I don’t think we saw Rajai in that role as much as expected anyways.

    • I don’t think he stay on the big league roster just to sit on the bench.

      • Agreed

      • I think having Gose fit the Rajai role is a good idea, personally. He would also be a late game defensive replacement, something that Rajai wasn’t well suited for.

        I don’t know, I just think that if they’re trying to contend, you can’t be worried about having him sit on the bench a little bit. I’m also wary of trading Gose or Rasmus because if you deal one guy, and the other stinks or gets hurt, you have NO ONE to play CF competently.

        • I agree. You can put him on the bench if you want to contend.

          If he starts hitting like crazy you can find a place for him full time. If he sucks or the team tanks you can make him full time in TO or Buffalo.

  16. AA needs to get off his value obsession a bit. Too bad there’s no Darvish or Sanchez on the market this off season. Maybe he’ll have overpay for C or 2B, though that didn’t work out with Izturis.

  17. I’m with you Stoeten – if Rogers wanted to, they could definitely give AA the go-ahead to up the payroll to let’s say $175 million – go out and get McCann, Peavy or Garza and maybe an Ellsbury, and keep your better kids in the system. It’s just up to them, really.


    Just kidding… but if anyone could do it, it’s them, right?

  18. On another note read this in MLBTR earlier today:

    “Bonifacio’s emergence means the Royals no longer have to make second base a major priority this off season”.

    .287 avg, .359 OBP and 15 of 17 stealing bases since joIning the Royals.

    Oh. And fuck everything.

    • The guy couldn’t hit shit when we was here, and the worst part is the obp/walks, he was not at all selective with his swings and stuck out like nuts too.

  19. This is a good post, so please don’t think I’m being a fucking dickhead. You just hit one sore spot that I want to touch on, which is super nerdy and 99.9% of people don’t care about.

    “…one of the clubs most easily-shopped commodities…”

    Adverbs ending in “ly” shouldn’t be hyphenated.

    (So: …most easily shopped…)

    I know, who the fuck cares, right?

    Well it’s driving me crazy because I see it EVERYWHERE. From major publications to rags.

    But I do realize that virtually no one else cares.

  20. Most people hated Rasmus until he started to break out last season; some even all the way through this season.

    Rasmus turned it around eventually, and there’s a decent chance all of these guys we got turn it around too.

  21. remember JPAs AAA stats? do we really want to rely on Gose as our only option at CF (if we lose Colby we have zero depth there…kinda like we do at C right now) given how unproven he is? seems very risky to me.

  22. your gonnna hear me roaaaarrrraaarrr

  23. I’m going to say it again, try and get Cobb . Gose would look nice in CF with Myers and Jennings on the corners. Package Gose along with a Cecil or Loup and McGuire type that offers the potential for a versatile pitcher for the emergency 5 spot or the long relief role.

    Rotation: Dickey, Morrow, Cobb, Buehrle and Drabek/ Hutchinson/ Nolin/ Stroman/ Romero/ Rogers/ Happ / Jenkins/ Redmen (There is a lot of depth here)

    • Rays aren’t moving Cobb. Why would they?

      Also, Deck McGuire offers nothing. He has no trade value, have you checked his stats?

  24. I think whatever the team does has to be contingent on Rasmus’ contract status – not to mention that asking Gose to replicate a mediocre AAA line against the best pitchers in the world is itself a tall order.

    If you can sell Gose’s tools and decent Sept to a team with pitching and extend Rasmus it’s hard not to do that. On the other hand, if you can’t extend Rasmus and someone offers you a pitcher for him, maybe you bite the bullet and accept an offensive black hole in CF while trying to upgrade 2B/C. But if three of Arencibia, Gose and Kawasaki/Izturis/Goins all get 500 PAs next year, there will be problems.

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