FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal thinks the Jays should let Alex Rios depart on waivers, deleting his contract while getting nothing in return. It’s an arguable position, except that Rosenthal doesn’t put forth much of an argument. Instead, he starts off with this:
The “trade” would not be Rios for whatever meager package the White Sox might offer. The “trade” would be for the $58.7 million that Rios is guaranteed from 2010 to ’14, an average of nearly $12 million per year.
Know what a team could have bought for $12 million last offseason? Outfielder Bobby Abreu, second baseman Orlando Hudson, first baseman Russell Branyan and shortstop Adam Everett — and still had $800,000 to spare.
And Adam Everett!!! Be still my heart.
This is the argument?
First, those players are probably going to end up making over $15 million this year. It’s fun to pretend Hudson’s deal was worth the guaranteed $3.38 million, but he’ll earn $8 million if he stays healthy. He’s already guaranteed himself more than $6 million.
Second, no one team could have had those four players for even the $15 million. It’s never going to work that way. If the Angels faced competition for Abreu, he wouldn’t have signed for $5 million. If the Blue Jays or any other random team offered him $5 million on December 15, he would have laughed in their faces.
So, let’s just say the Blue Jays were waiting in the weeds for all of these guys. Well, Abreu might have been realistic. Not at $5 million, but maybe $7 million-$8 million. Hudson? Back to Toronto and J.P. Ricciardi’s loving arms? Probably not. Plus, he would have cost a draft pick. Branyan? They weren’t going to offer him regular playing time, so he still would have gone to Seattle. Everett? No, I just don’t get that one.
But Rosenthal’s point is that the Jays could use Rios’ money on free agents. And they could. It probably wouldn’t work out, but they could. First, let’s run down all of Ricciardi’s successful big free-agent acquisitions.
Should we do it again? OK, you can say A.J. Burnett was a modest success. He was an above average starter while earning $31 million over three seasons, going 38-24 with a 3.94 ERA, but he only stayed healthy in his walk year. The other three multiyear deals Ricciardi handed out to bring in free agents all ended up with him eating money: B.J. Ryan, Frank Thomas and Corey Koskie. If Ricciardi chooses to spend Rios’ money on free agents, he’ll likely end up with worse players and fewer draft picks.
No, I hardly think that’s the answer. Rios has been a disappointment since landing his big contract prior to 2008, but he’s still been a huge bargain to this point. Yes, he’s eventually going to make $12 million in 2011. However, in 2008, he earned $4.235 million. In 2009, he’s making $5.9 million. Next year, it’s going to be $9.7 million. The odds are still very good that he’ll be worth every penny he’s earning, particularly if the Jays face facts and realize they’d be better off with him in center and Vernon Wells in a corner.