Going to arbitration for less than $500,000 on a contract that will end up being at least $3.25 million hardly seems worth it, but that’s exactly what will happen with Jason Frasor and the Toronto Blue Jays, after the reliever filed his arbitration case for $3.725 million ahead of yesterday’s deadline.

Why?

By now we’re all aware of the Omerta like silence Alex Anthopoulos practices while negotiating contracts, and so it’s unlikely we’ll ever learn for certain why such a relatively small amount of money is holding up a contract for a potential closer candidate on this team, especially considering that the team had no problem signing free agent Jon Rauch to a deal worth $3.75 million mere days ago, or guaranteed $3.5 million to Octavio Dotel earlier in the offseason.

Here’s a guess:  Frasor realized how badly he was burned by being attached to the Type A free agent status that would’ve forced any team interested in signing him to give up their first round draft pick.  He saw the contracts that other, lesser relievers were getting on the open market and that led his pre-arbitration demands to include a guarantee that the Blue Jays would not offer him arbitration at the conclusion of any deal that he signed.  With no arbitration offer, Frasor wouldn’t be shackled to an Elias ranking status and be forced to suffer through the same experience next offseason.

This would be a similar arrangement to what Grant Balfour negotiated in his deal with the Oakland A’s.

My prediction is that Frasor wins his arbitration case easily considering his recent numbers and the money that the Jays have handed out to inferior right handed arms this offseason.

Comments (32)

  1. Can Frasor include in his arbitration filing a provision that prohibits the Blue Jays from offering him arbitration at the conclusion of the contract? Or does the arbitrator only consider the money?

  2. Someone on Batters Box floated an idea I liked – AA is standing firm on Frasor to send a message to Rauch & Dotel – if you accept our arb offer we WILL play hardball with you and are willing to limit your raise through a messy arbitration process. It would send quite a message to them if the Blue Jays cut Frasor on March 15th for the 600k or whatever – almost as if AA would be buying himself 2 picks for 600k if he loses the arbitration battle with Frasor.

  3. I agree that that could be the case, but could they maybe have decided to drop negotiations and possibly trade him? The signing of Dotel ad Rauch does give them inexplicable right-handed depth, maybe that was their backup plan all along.

  4. It’s also worth noting that (unless I’m remembering incorrectly) AA said he had nothing to do with the Frasor negotiations – they were handled 100% by assistant GM Jay Sartori. So maybe this is just a case of a different guy having different negotiation tactics? I can’t imagine that’d be the only reason though.

  5. That’s actually the exact opposite of what he said. His assistants were with him all day and into the night and were constantly barging into his office and touching base even while AA himself was in the midst of a phone negotiation. I never heard AA specifically say that Frasor’s was handled solely by Sartori, only that he was assigned to the case.

  6. You’re probably right, I was just going by John Lott’s tweet yesterday that said “AA personally handled Bautista negotiations. AGM Jay Sartori was on Frasor.” Details tend to get left out when you’re limited to 140 characters.

  7. Frasor’s numbers show that he’s a better pitcher than Dotel and Rauch. The only way you can justify preferring them is if you’d rather have two type B relievers (more likely to sign and bring back picks) than a type A and type B reliever.

    I don’t think cutting Frasor would be playing hardball at all. He’d likely prefer it at this point.

  8. Why exactly do you have to justify preferring them?

    I can’t see how being cut on Mar 15th would be preferable to Frasor. Teams don’t have 2.5m to spend on RP at that time anymore.

    • You have to justify it because you’re leaving the best player on the outside.

      Anthopoulos will be doing himself no favours in the future FA market if he cuts Frasor just before his money becomes guaranteed. Even if he does, a team would have no problem at all finding that much money to spend on him.

  9. Not sure I want to have $600k and no job on March 15, as opposed to a guaranteed $3.5m.

  10. Don’t you need to justify that he’s the best player? That’s a strange assertion of fact for something that’s obviously a very close race and can be evaluated in numerous different ways. And even if you CAN prove it, AA clearly doesn’t feel like Frasor is suited for a closer role, which is all that really matters here.

    No team has 2.5m to spend on a setup man 2 weeks before the season starts.

    • 1) The numbers, both old school, and new school make a pretty convincing case for Frasor.

      2) “No team has 2.5m to spend on a setup man 2 weeks before the season starts.” That’s a completely untrue statement that has no merit whatsoever. Teams make trades all the time that sways salary much further than 2.5 million. Frasor wouldn’t be out of work for very long at all if he were to be cut.

  11. 1) Can you please elaborate? I’m not trolling here, I really want to understand where you’re coming from with all these bullpen thoughts. You speak in such absolutes without entertaining the notion that it’s opinion.

    Frasor : 3.76era 3.73fip 4.02xfip
    Dotel : 3.75era 3.83fip 3.65xfip
    Rauch : 3.71era 3.89fip 4.41xfip

    2) Can you bring any examples of this? Because otherwise my response to you is the same as yours is to me -

    “Teams make trades all the time (within 16 days of the season) that sways salary much further than 2.5 million.”

    That’s a completely untrue statement that has no merit whatsoever.

    It’s hard for me to prove a negative, but you should have no problem proving a positive (like when I said RPs get moved for top prospects).

    • 1) Last three years, Frasor has a better HR rate, better WHIP, better ERA, better FIP, better xFIP. Go back only two years and the differences are even more staggering.

      2) I’m not going to go back through every MLB transaction to prove that teams are willing to spend $2.5 million dollars because the notion that they wouldn’t do that is simply ridiculous. Even if there isn’t any proof, of which I’d wager there is, I’d also wager that there has never been a Type A free agent dumped during Spring Training before. Budgets are not set in stone for every team . . . and if Jason Frasor was available on March 15th or any other date of the year, he would have little trouble finding work at a contract consistent with what a reliever of his caliber deserves.

  12. I’m not sure what to make of the Frasor situation. It does seem odd that the Jays would be willing to spend over 10 million on 3 bullpen pitchers (Dotel, Rauch, Frasor) and only half of that on the entire rotation. There are a lot of possibilities for the bullpen and I think after arbitration it would be better if the Jays traded Frasor and used that 3.5 million on another player.

  13. Doesn’t the fact that Jason Frasor is a Type A and those other guys are Type Bs suggest that Frasor is more valuable?

  14. JToronto, it’s not that the Jays aren’t willing to spend more on the rotation, it’s that they don’t have to – which is exactly why they can afford to overpay the bullpen.

  15. @NYJ. Dotel can’t get lefties out which makes him much, much less valuable.

  16. Maybe the Jays want to negotiate a multi-year deal with Frasor and that’s the hold up. I don’t see them doing it, but perhaps that’s what’s going on.

  17. 1) Do you not see how you are using arbitrary end points to fit your argument? Rauch was better than Frasor in 2010 in H/9, HR/9, K:BB, WHIP, ERA, and FIP. Furthermore, most of the things you say are untrue if, instead of extending back 3 years, you extend back 4 and include 2007.

    What should all this show? The volatility in relievers and the silliness in labeling one guy as better than the other when they have such similar histories.

    2) “he would have little trouble finding work at a contract consistent with what a reliever of his caliber deserves”

    Repeating yourself without evidence doesn’t validate your argument. Exactly one player in all of baseball got a guaranteed contract after March 1st last year – Chad Gaudin for 700k. When Cust and his 2.5m salary hit the DFA market, nobody bit. Because nobody has any $ to spend.

    • 1) You yourself used three years as a standard in an argument yesterday. I’m fine with going for two years as well. I believe that a three year time frame gives you the most accurate scale while still accounting for declining skills due to age.

      2) Comparing Jack Cust to Frasor is as ridiculous as suggesting that no team can spare $2.5 million. It has nothing to do with not having any money to spend and everything to do with the player being Jack Cust.

  18. I should add that no salary (>1m) was moved in trades either.

    • No trades were made at that time of the year. My point is that a team will be willing to put on salary regardless of the time of year. Your argument is like saying that it doesn’t rain on Saturdays because you don’t see chickens in your house. No, I haven’t seen any chickens in my house when it doesn’t rain on Saturday, but that has nothing to do with the lack of precipitation.

  19. Straw man under attack. Watch out.

  20. You claim Frasor would prefer to be cut, earn 1/6th his arb, and hit the open market on March 14th or whatever the last day is. The implication there is that he can come within 600k of his arbitration award and move to a better situation while earning more money. If there’s no precedent of a player in recent history getting his market value in March to suggest this is possible, what more can I do to prove my side? Isn’t the onus on you to prove that teams ARE willing to absorb market value salary with 2 weeks left in ST? Cuz I can’t do anything more than point out that money in the range of Frasor’s salary hasn’t been added to a team’s payroll in the last few years.

    This is like your assertion that relievers aren’t traded for prospects – when you are shown numerous examples of it happening, you say they aren’t representative of an existing market because the GMs making them were shitty…all while ignoring that those GMs remain employed, hence the market for RP pitching come July. We can’t win.

    • If there is no precedent for it, which I doubt, then that has everything to do with the quality of the players who are normally cut at that time, and nothing to do with teams not willing to add salary.

      Where does you imaginary sense of MLB financial planning come from?

      You were writing as though it’s easy for a GM to flip a reliever for prospects ahead of the trade deadline (amazing that a team would be willing to ever absorb salary!). I said that it’s simply not. Someone pointed out three occurrences over the last few years and in almost every case, it was widely thought of as a one-sided deal and I believe that in two of the instances it was done by Ned Colletti.

  21. So the reason nobody wanted to add Type A Jermaine Dye last year (who wasn’t offered arbitration) was because he hit .292/.387/.508 vs. LHP the year before, and not because they couldn’t afford him? Interesting.

    And I don’t believe I ever said it’s easy for a GM to flip a reliever – what I probably said was that the trade market for relievers DOES exist and has to be factored into the FA signees potential value. Whether they are one-sided deals or consummated by Ned Colletti really isn’t relevant. One example of Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps last year really should be enough to know that it’s possible Rauch & Dotel carry trade value this July.

    Your responses seem to be predicated on putting me down for things I never said or implied. Of course teams are willing to absorb salary by the trade deadline – they now know who on their team is performing and who isn’t, where they need to improve, and whether or not they should be building for the present or the future. But 2 weeks before the season starts? Most if not all teams have already finalized a payroll by then and aren’t looking to add anything more than supplementary pieces on minor league deals – a reliever getting market value at that time of year is simply unheard of.

  22. NYJ,
    Do you go to the University of Buffalo School of Law?

  23. why the hate on the vulture? all im saying is if jays deploy him only in home games he’d be worth a lot more then 3.75. smart move could’ve asked for a little more;he’ll get it and we’ll rightfully pay the dude.

  24. The worst part about driving a Toyota on arbitration day is that every time It rains on saturday I get chickens in my house.

  25. NYJ/ Parkes..

    You are both right and both wrong on certain points, but you keep going back and forth like some sort of resolution is going to take place…

    1) its hard to prove that Frasor is better than Dotel and Rauch, if anything they are all very similar relievers, minus Dotel not being able to get out lefties.

    2) The idea that Frasor won’t be picked up if he is cut before March is absolutely ridiculous. He’s a quality bullpen arm. Especially with the contracts that relievers recieved this offseason. Frasor wouldn’t last a day on the open market and probably get a 2-3 year deal worth 6-9 million. EASILY… comparing him to Jack Cust is foolish, and comparing him to the Jermain Dye situation is just beyond Dumb.. I’m just surprised Parkes humored you with responses for so long.. You can’t compare position players to bullpen arms, a very quality bullpen arm at that. 5 relievers have gotten multi year deals this offseason, including 4 who got 3 year deals. why? because teams were desperate and had to give extra coin and years to lock quality arms down. . . getting cut may not get Frasor more guaranteed per year, but it would definitely get him an extra year or two. How you could even begin to debate that is ridiculous.

  26. J & J – Next time I suggest reading the thread. The issue we were discussing was whether a team could pay Frasor 3m on March 15th. Nobody ever doubted that if he were released today someone would make room for him on the roster.

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