Thoughts on Hill/Rios Signing + Thomas Release

Toronto Blue Jays 2008

Recently myself and fellow Mop Up Duty writer Early have been going back and forth some of the recent Toronto Blue Jays news. I decided to answer his questions out in the open. Here we go…

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Q: I am still curious as to if you like the Jays signing Rios+Hill?

You know me, a love the pre-arb, pre-FA year covering deals. Both of strong value signings for the Jays, when accounting for a future discount rate. One thing that does kind of perturb me is the structure of the Hill deal. The option is 3 years for $26 million. As of now this should be a steal for a FA year or two but why the three year structure? If he regresses a little this may not be a slam dunk option. The Indians recently signed Carmona to a similar deal and added in three years of an option, although each option is separate ((2012, 2013, 2014 ($7, $9, $14 million)).

Still I love both of these deals, as they add stability to the roster, foster good-will between the team, city, players and importantly the fans. Hopefully we can all tune into a Jays game during the 2015 season and see both of these players ripping it up.

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Q: Do you like the Jays relasing Thomas? And if you don’t what options should have been taken? Use pro-rated stats if you like but you know those work both ways.

First off I was guilty of using the dastardly pro-rated stat in our argument. I felt that since the whole premise of the Jays releasing the Big Hurt was on the basis of his stats (or lack thereof) that it would be acceptable. From some of our comment battles, here are the pro-rated stats;

In 16 games Thomas had 11 RBI, a pace of 111. He also had 3 HR, a pace of 30 for a full season. The .167 start isn’t pretty but he did this last season. The low average is also a nice piece to float to the media. Average is still an important stat to the average Jays fan. Stairs has a pretty average of .326 but is slugging under .400 with 3 RBI. I say release Stairs as well….

Frank was on pace for 100+ walks, so I’m not going to discount his eye.

First off, let me put it right out there that I was against this signing from day one. I also don’t see his 2009 production being too stellar. So why do I dislike the move? Well, from a financial standpoint I still think the Jays could have stuck Thomas on the bench and given him less than 375 PA, even with the bitching. If he wants to pull a big stink (as he did) for the entire season (would this have happened?) then the Jays could have saved face by releasing him later on or by trading him. From the news out there, a few teams would have given up a prospect or two for the Big Hurt. By releasing him as they did the Jays

A) Paid out his full year’s salary
B) did not receive any compensation
C) Frankly, looked like shit

Now what do I mean in part C)? Here’s some more cut & paste from the comments section. I stand by this and I do think this will have a negative effect of the Jays free agent dealings as long as JP is at the helm.

As long as JP is a GM anywhere he’s going to have a tough time signing anybody to an incentive contract. In the recent years he’s brought in many players via a minimum deal with a similar salary bump to Thomas (PA, IP, Starts, etc). Agents are going to steer their players clear of the T-Dot after this fiasco, just another in a growing list. In the short term this is a good move but the big picture (which the Jays & JP seem to forget with this type of action and the number of backloaded contracts) certainly takes a hit here.

If I’m a FA player making less than fair market value during my arb years or trying to play my way back into a $$$ MLB role I want A) Cash & B) to play. Winning doesn’t mean much if I’m riding the pine. An agent isn’t going to be running his client towards a situation where he isn’t going to play because it will devalue his future earning ability. This is a business for the franchises, the players and the agents.

Re Response: “Q: Who would ever want to sign a two year deal with a vested option? An aging slugger past his prime trying to hang on to reach personal goals.”

Kman A: These short-term deals with an option could also apply to someone like Matt Stairs. If given another option, a player such as Stairs will likely skip the T-Dot for a team/gm that he and importantly his agent think will deliver the playing time and opportunity.



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has written for mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Matthias on Twitter, Facebook and Google +

  • It is nice that you get to the point here. The Q’s were “out in the open” in the first Big Hurt article a week ago. Anyways…I don’t disagree with you here on Hill+Rios except that you say, “I felt that since the whole premise of the Jays releasing the Big Hurt was on the basis of his stats”. I feel the premise for release was his hissy fit and his performance was based on his terrible approach at the plate.

    Wouldn’t sitting him, letting him have his hissy fit, hit .167, bench the HOFer and keeping him from reaching his incentives look even worse for attracting new incentive based contracts on Vets or injury bitches? There may be a sentiment amongst agents that if JP signs you and doesn’t want you he will release you so that you can reach your incentives and show that you can still play and have some value on the FA market.

    If the Jays let him play and he hit .167 pro rated with 80 hits and 8 doubles (prorated) he would be worthless on the FA market and his career would be over, likewise, if they benched him and used him a couple times a week as a PH, career over see you in 5 years at Cooperstown. Thomas wants to play, he wasn’t going to play for Gibbons by relasing him he has got the chance to show JP and Gibby wrong.