Ferguson: Gibbons' contract and the price of pitching

Scott Ferguson
11/22/2013 11:40:14 AM
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The Toronto Blue Jays have been relatively secretive about the length and values of the contracts of their executive-types the past few years. No one really knows how long GM Alex Anthopoulos is signed for, and it was a guessing game as to the length of John Farrell's pact when the subject of him moving to Boston was first broached after the 2011 season.

Cot's Baseball contracts (Baseball Prospectus) details something interesting about John Gibbons' deal, which was first reported by Shi Davidi back in February.
When he replaced Farrell, Gibbons signed a two-year deal with an option for 2015. But here's the interesting part, if Gibbons is not fired by January 1, his option year becomes guaranteed and he gets another option year for 2016.
Gibbons absolutely deserves another "kick at the can" after the club was ravaged by injuries for the second year in a row. Still, you have to wonder if upper management did any serious thinking after the club struggled to reach 74 wins after such lofty pre-season expectations.
There will be some serious heat on Gibbons and Anthopoulos if the Blue Jays stumble out of the gate in 2014. But at least in Gibbons' case, it looks like he won't go into the new season as a 'lame duck' manager.
It's smart business and baseball sense to abide by the Blue Jays's policy of only giving five-year contracts to free agents, especially pitchers. You have to wonder, though, if the Jays are going to have to rethink that one after seeing 30-year-old lefty Jason Vargas sign a four-year deal worth $32 million with Kansas City.
Vargas has a career record of 51-58 with a 4.30 ERA over eight seasons with four different teams so far. He only has two double-digit win seasons and peaked at 14 with Seattle. It's not so much the $8 million per season he's getting from the Royals but the four years.
If Vargas can get four years, then what of the bigger names teams like the Blue Jays might be interested in, such as  Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and even Dan Haren. They all have more impressive resumes than Vargas.
The Royals were rumoured to be interested in a trade for A's 25-year-old lefty Brett Anderson before doing the deal with Vargas. The Jays have been rumoured to be talking to Oakland about Anderson, as well.
Maybe there should be a buyer beware tag attached to that one. Though he has a world of potential, the 6'4" southpaw is only 26-29 over five injury-plagued seasons with the A's. Anderson will be 26 in February and he still excites people because of his 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and his more than respectable career ERA of 3.81. He is a risk with potential upside to be sure.

Talking Trade
I loved the Prince Fielder for Ian Kinsler trade between Detroit and Texas. Fielder had two decent seasons for the Tigers and helped get them to the playoffs twice. However, he had a miserable stretch of no playoff RBI's in 18 games.
Kinsler was simply caught in a middle infield squeeze in Texas with the Rangers having a much younger Jurickson Profar ready to step in at second base with the outside chance the Rangers might bid for free agent Robby Cano.

With that short right field porch at the Ballpark at Arlington, Fielder could easily rebound next season and hit 45 to 50 homers The Tigers are better off as well moving their two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera from third over to first to take some of the physical stress off his body.

Braun on the Market?
As impressive as it was that the Tigers could move Fielder's huge contract that still has seven years and $168 million dollar left on it, this one would be even more impressive.
Milwaukee is considering unloading Ryan Braun in the wake of his PED suspension with GM Doug Melvin claiming a couple of clubs have at least called him to talk about him.
Braun is slightly older than Fielder at 30 and he is an MVP. But he has seven years and $127 million still owed to him, plus a mutual option for 2021.
This contract is even more injurious to the Brewers than Alex Rodriguez is to the Yankees if Braun's production falls off dramatically once he starts playing clean. If the Brewers are committed to moving him, it will be interesting to see over the winter which team, if any, will be willing to take him on.

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