Blue Jays Missed Opportunity With David Price
Everyone is aware by now that the Toronto Blue Jays failed to even offer David Price a contract to remain a member of the team. President Mark Shapiro was clear on this when he told John Lott of the National Post when asked about bidding on Price,
“Not that aggressively,” he said, as one might have expected. “For me with David Price, it’s never a question of, ‘Do you want David Price?’ That’s silly. Of course, yes, we want David Price. It’s a question of how do you build a championship team within the parameters you’re given. It’s as simple as that.”
“We have all the resources necessary to build a championship team, but it’s not unlimited; it’s a business like any other business. And so we had multiple holes to fill, multiple holes, and putting all those resources into one player, it really would have created a team … with one complete hole in the rotation with nowhere to fill it. So it really wasn’t much of a choice.”
More recently, David Price’s agent, Bo McKinnis, spoke on MLB Network Radio Sunday regarding the Blue Jays lack of an offer for his ace (thanks to Ben Ennis for the clip via SoundCloud),
“The Blue Jays were the biggest surprise. David absolutely would have gone back there. That was the toughest part of this. I’m surprised we did not get an offer. I think that was the most difficult part for David as we went through this process cause he had a wonderful time there, and you know the bulk of the club is back there and he would have enjoyed being with them.”
Of course, we all know it would have taken a $200 million offer to secure his services and even then we don’t know for sure that he would’ve came back. If he didn’t, fine, at least we would know they tried. I could live with that. But to fail to even make an offer for a talent such as Price, that’s inexcusable.
On the other side, we also know that long term deals for pitchers often don’t end well. In fact, Dave Cameron writing for Fox Sports postulates that there’s a 67 percent chance the Red Sox probably regret this contract, however it doesn’t mean it’s a mistake citing the potential for playoff revenues to offset the cost of this deal. Indeed, Boston certainly has to aim for the playoffs to make this worthwhile and who’s to argue right now that they won’t be favoured to do so. If the Blue Jays’ corporate ownership had the same kind of foresight of striving for the playoffs while Price is still in his prime, they needn’t worry about sunk costs. Instead, Rogers and Blue Jays management is playing it safe by diversifying their risk across multiple, lesser, players. No one can deny that Toronto would have been a better team with Price on it. That’s the thing right there. We’re now a worse team with an unlikelier chance of reaching the playoffs.
Just look at the projections below for Price courtesy of Sports Illustrated. I happen to think it’s a very good one expecting three more very good seasons and then a decline. He nearly makes up the full value of his contract.
Consider as well what former GM Alex Anthopoulos told WEEI about Price,
“David Price was one of the guys that if you talk to people in that clubhouse … We already had a good clubhouse, but he took it to a whole different level. He’s probably the best teammate I’ve ever seen. I haven’t been in the game that long, but everyone else who has been around him has said he’s the best they’ve ever seen. Look, he’s got front-line stuff. But he’s legitimately a great teammate. His work ethic is off the charts and he makes everybody else on the team a lot better. He brings something else more than just the two ERA and the 240 innings and everything else. He leads. He sets a great example.”
“But he combines great talent, great ability, with the other components of being a great human being, a great teammate, a great clubhouse guy. It’s rare you can combine both. Sometimes you have great talent and the makeup or character component is OK, and other times it’s not good. Here it’s great. You’re getting great on both sides, which is rare. It’s not too many times that you end up getting something like that. I think every club in baseball would be thrilled to have a guy like that.”
Even the Cubs and Cardinals got in on the bidding because they recognize the kind of talent Price is.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) December 3, 2015
Cubs offer to Price was creative at 7-$161 million third to Boston and St Louis .They liked Samardzija but did not offer 5 year deal . — Bruce Levine (@MLBBruceLevine) December 6, 2015
Make no mistake that, as reported by J.P. Morosi of Fox, that Anthopoulos if still in charge would have at least tried to keep him. He knew the value of a guy like Price and he wouldn’t have been left with squat after trading away three prospects to get him in the first place. Whether or not ownership would have approved the planned offer is another question.
Let it be noted that Rogers has already RAISED ticket prices for 2016 and raked in at minimum $55 million in profits from August through October last year. Again, John Lott of the National Post recently reported the following when new GM Ross Atkins was hired:
“…a reporter mentioned the bushels of cash that Rogers Communications raked in from all those sellouts in August and September. With that in mind, had Shapiro gone to ownership and asked for a payroll increase? “Yes, and that’s obviously happened,” he replied, without elaboration.”
Except the fan base has no idea what level Rogers intends to set the budget at. Will it still be south of $140 million, which is not an increase from previous years, or will it leapfrog over the $140M mark entirely to help supplement this roster? As a fan, I’m watching what they do with payroll and if it’s not increased after all the profits they brought in, then I’m seriously incensed.
All of this leads me to question the level of payroll and the dreaded “parameters” that Rogers has set for the team. Is $135 million plus suitable for a larger market like Toronto? Is payroll growing in conjunction with the ever-increasing player salaries? A piece over at Jays Journal accurately pointed out that the Jays could have brought back Price and Estrada for a total team budget of $156 million. To me, that would have seemed doable. Instead, Rogers is in effect saying, “We only care and are committed to winning this much (imagine my thumb and index finger about a millimetre away from each other). We’ve provided a healthy payroll and don’t care about extenuating circumstances that might warrant any change from our fixed and rigid thinking.”
We need only look across the boarder from Windsor to see a city with an owner who truly wants to see its team win. Tigers’ owner Mike Ilitch recently shared some comments after the Jordan Zimmermann free-agent signing via MLBTR,
“I’ve been in baseball for a lot of years, and I don’t care about spending money,” Mike Ilitch told the Detroit media. “They (management) get the players, and I spend and I don’t worry about it, because they have good judgment. We’ve had good teams over the years, and it’s a lot of fun for me.” Ilitch added that winning is “all I think about” and that he badly wants a championship in Detroit.
If only, my friends, if only…