Mitchell: Best and Worst Signatures in Toronto Blue Jays History


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TORONTO – Over the past 43 years, there will be good, bad, and hopefully, if you’re lucky as a franchisee, great.

Since 1977, the Toronto Blue Jays have undoubtedly had a mix of the three, with some good going on if things go well.

The story of free agent signatures and lucrative extensions that helped build these ball clubs of varying degrees of success reflects the overall results.

Six men held the title of general manager of the Blue Jays in franchise history – technically it’s seven, but Tony LaCava’s short stint in 2015 was an interim tag – but one of them built a CV above all others: Pat Gillick, the architect of these great Blue Jays teams and an era of victory that proved difficult to match.

Peter Bavasi (1977) before him, and Gord Ash (1995-2001), JP Ricciardi (2002-09), Alex Anthopoulos (2010-15) and Ross Atkins after him, all tried and failed to reproduce this magic over the years. years since.

Make intelligent gestures repeatedly in free agency, and things tend to be fine.

Gillick knows that. It was spending money that put their teams above the top in the 1990s.

Swing and miss with your employer’s money and it usually ends badly – both in the field and permanently. Anyone who lived in the 2000s as a fan of the Blue Jays will attest to this.

In this nine-part series that examines the best and worst in Blue Jays history, we will end up discovering the good and the bad in three different ways that these GMs have built teams on the field, starting with with the best and worst signings today, followed by trades and draft picks in the coming days.

This list is made up of free agency work, so you will not find a contract extension for Jose Bautista before the 2011 season, the new signing of Joe Carter in the winter of 1992 or the 3.9 million coup Anthopoulos dollars to get Vladimir Guerrero Jr. to sign as an amateur international free agent in 2015.

There is only one exception, an extension of the mid-2000s that was too blatant to ignore.


5. (TIE) Dave Stewart: two years, $ 8.5 million on December 8, 1992; Jose Canseco: one year, $ 2.125 million on December 4, 1998

Integrated image You will notice that I cheated some tough decisions on some of these lists using links in fifth place. No gimmicky shootings here, just credit where credit is due.

These two signatures couldn’t be more different in terms of defining why I considered them to be quotes, “successful” quotes.

After the Jays eliminated Stewart’s Oakland Athletics in 1992, they robbed Stewart of a free agency a few months later in December, signing the intimidating-looking right-hander for a two-year contract.

In his 1993 36-year season, Stewart was no longer a top performer, posting a 12-8 record and 4.44 ERA in 26 starts, third in staff behind Pat’s 3.88 mark. Hentgen and 3.99 by Juan Guzman. TIME.

But it was in the playoffs that Stewart regained his former glory, winning the ALCS MVP by allowing only three earned runs in two games 2 and 6 starts against the Chicago White Sox.

Although he did not play well in the World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies, he managed to keep his team in the game long enough in Game 6, allowing four earned runs in six innings, to let Joe Carter make his move. work in the ninth. inning.

Stewart was pretty terrible in the last year of the deal in 1994, but he made his money.

Canseco earned his money and his place on this list in a very different way, bouncing back from six consecutive seasons of 119 games or less – in most cases, much less – to surprisingly play 151 games in 1998 with a contract. a year of Ash which ended until bringing him $ 2.125 million when all was said and done.

Of course, the Jays won only 88 games that year and finished third in the division, while Canseco was only 1.3 fWAR due to the lack of defense, leading the league in strikeouts and a small base percentage, but, but, but. .. when it comes to this sport is about entertainment, and Canseco crushing 46 circuits, stealing 29 bases (it was taken 17 laughable) and putting together the healthiest season since its heyday Bash Brothers was at least fun – steroids or no steroids.

It was still worth over a few million dollars and the fans are really getting their money’s worth.

4. Dave Winfield: one year, $ 2.3 million on December 19, 1991

Introduced at the age of 40 to help lengthen the formation of the Jays and ensure a presence, Winfield answered the call, cutting 0.290 / .377 / .491 with 26 circuits and 108 points produced in his song of swan as a major productive leaguer. .

According to fWAR, the 3.8 mark it posted in 1992 makes Winfield’s sixth best season in 22 years.

He also provided some heroics from Fall Classic, offering a winning two in two innings in the 11th inning of Game 6 against the Atlanta Braves.

3. Jack Morris: two years, $ 10.85 million on December 18, 1991

Integrated image The loss of the 1991 ALCS to the Minnesota Twins led Gillick to go out and steal their ace, inking Morris, 37, one day before signing Winfield.

Everything that Morris did at twilight in his first year in Toronto, finished fifth in AL Cy Young with a 21-6 record and ERA of 4.04.

Completely opposed to Stewart, Morris was brilliant in the regular season but terrible in the playoffs, allowing 19 ugly earned runs in two poor starts and two horrific outings, including one in the fifth game in the World Series.

Like Stewart, however, Morris cratered in the second and final year of the deal, recording a GPA of 6.19, and did not start in the playoffs due to an injury.

2. Paul Molitor: three years, $ 13 million on December 7, 1992

Aged well in his mid-thirties when Gillick gave him a three-year lucrative pact, the longtime Milwaukee Brewers star came out and delivered in 1993, cutting .332 / .402 / .509 with a total of 22 homers to help lead the Jays’ powerful lineup to 847 points, third best baseball.

Molitor poured him into the playoffs with 21 hits and an average of .447 to lock up World Series MVP honors before beating .341 in 1994.

1. Roger Clemens: four years, $ 40 million on December 13, 1996

Integrated image While Boston Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette believed Clemens was made in the winter of 1996, Ash launched a $ 40 million offer over four years that turned out to be a good deal.

Withdrawing the emotions of how he left town and the steroid allegations years later, Clemens simply dominated during his two years in Toronto, recording a record 41-13 and a stingy PLAR of 2.33 in 67 starts and an amazing 498.2 innings.

The 1996 and 1997 seasons earned a total of 18.9 fWAR and have produced consecutive Cy Young Awards, two of four of the Blue Jays’ trophies to date.

The best and worst in the history of the Blue Jays: contract signatures

TSN Blue Jays reporter Scott Mitchell launches nine-part series on best and worst in Blue Jays history with insight into signatures that, over 43 years, have given Jays fans good reviews , bad and excellent.


Integrated image 5. Corey Koskie: three years, $ 17 million on December 14, 2004

Watching local star Carlos Delgado walk as a free agent – he signed with the Marlins for $ 52 million over four years – and replacing him, in part, with third Canadian base player Corey Koskie didn’t work for Ricciardi.

A well-rounded player with the Twins, the Manitoba product suffered an injury-injured first season with the Jays in 2005, fighting for a slash line of .249 / .337 / .398 in just 97 games.

The following off-season acquisition of Troy Glaus sealed Koskie’s fate in Toronto’s warm corner, and the rest of his contract was sent to the Brewers for pitcher Brian Wolfe, who granted 82.2 innings of relief unmatched by the Jays over the next three seasons. .

The Jays also sent $ 7.1 million to the Brew Crew to kidnap Koskie.

Koskie retired in 2009 due to the effects of post-concussion syndrome after being injured in a fall while chasing a pop-up in a match on July 5, 2006.

4. Ken Dayley: three years, $ 6.3 million on November 26, 1990

The reason the Dayley acquisition got attention – I still get it, I guess, since I write this – is the fact that it was Gillick’s first major foray into free will while the years of near misses in eastern AL began to accumulate in the late 1980s and into the 1990s.

Dayley, a 32-year-old left-handed reliever who had been the third pick in the 1980 draft, had just lived six consecutive years of above average to solid work in the St. Louis Cardinals reliever paddock when Gillick handed him $ 6.3 million to be a key backup cog for the Jays.

What Dayley ended up giving them, however, due to various injuries and a bout of vertigo, was only five innings over the next three seasons.

It’s not the most lucrative business on this list even if you consider how much the financial landscape in sport has changed, but they could have set the money on fire and it would have been the same return.

3. Erik Hanson: three years, $ 9.4 million on December 22, 1995

Integrated image Hanson turned a 15-5 season, a 4.24 and 4.1 fWAR ERA with the Red Sox in 1995 into a three-year pact with Ash, who was trying to rebuild the Jays after Gillick’s release.

Hanson was … not good.

While he was at least available for Jays manager Cito Gaston every five days, making 35 starts and pitching 214.2 innings, Hanson was timed for 243 hits and 5.41 ERA, leading to a record. from 13-17.

Its 3.0 fWAR shows that it’s useful to be able to accumulate innings, but Hanson has completely fallen on his face in the last two years of the agreement, making only 10 additional starts and finishing with a BPM of 5.68 in as long as Blue Jay.

2. Vernon Wells: $ 126 million extension over seven years on December 15, 2006

It must have been an exciting day when the Jays signed on to franchise franchise cornerstone Wells for a seven-year, $ 126 million expansion that made him the richest player in franchise history.

After all, Wells had just completed a 2006 season that propelled him into the elite of the league, a monster 5.8 fWAR year with a slash line of 0.303 / 0.357 / 0.542, 32 homers and 17 interceptions.

But with the ink still drying on the contract that Ricciardi had given him, the wheels came off and Wells went from a booming start at the age of 27 to a defective player who couldn’t get enough on the base and declined defensively in the central field.

Over the next three seasons, Wells was worth a total of 2.7 fWAR and reached 16, 20 and 15 circuits respectively.

The contract quickly became a burden and was considered one of the worst in baseball.

A rebound of 31 circuits in 2010 shockingly allowed Anthopoulos to unload Wells and the nearly $ 90 million remaining on his contract in January 2011, and he would end up being paid $ 21 million for the 2014 season despite failing to not play a game after its release. by the Yankees in January.

While we are at it, the 2008 Ricciardi extension handed outfielder Alex Rios did not work much better, and only a request for a waiver from the Chicago White Sox allowed them to escape the nearly $ 60 million owed on this one.

1. B.J. Ryan: Five years, $ 47 million on November 29, 2005

Integrated image These days, contenders were salivating the prospect of a left-handed power riser coming off a 2.43 ERA and 2.6 fWAR as a free agent, like Ryan after the 2005 season.

But even now, 15 years later, the length and total value of the largest contract ever given to a loved one at the time would be a bit too much.

While it’s easy to forget that Ryan dominated the lights in his first season in Toronto, recording 38 games with a tiny 1.37 ERA, it was mostly downhill from there and the last four years of Ryan’s agreement provided no value.

Tommy John’s surgery hampered in 2007, but he struggled to control upon his return and was finally released in July 2009, raising $ 10 million from the Jays not to launch in 2010.

All told, the Jays got 155.1 innings and 75 saves from Ryan for $ 47 million.


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