Friday, November 25, 2005

The Blue Jays' Big Move

According to the New York Daily News, the Toronto Blue Jays have signed closer BJ Ryan to a 5 year, $47 million contract.

This is a big acquisition for the Jays for a few reasons. For one, Ryan, at 29, is the youngest of the closers available on the market, meaning the odds of his performance dropping off over the duration of the contract are much less than those of a Trevor Hoffman or Billy Wagner (though admittedly, those two have longer records of success than BJ). Secondly, it provides the Jays with depth, allowing them to move Miguel Batista into a setup role, or to flip him for depth elsewhere, as the Daily News suspects they will. Regardless, Toronto has managed to upgrade at the closer position. Finally, this move weakens one division rival, Baltimore (Ryan's old team), and is a set-back to both New York and Boston, who were courting the young closer.

Going into this off-season, the Jays were looking to add $20-30 million to their payroll in hopes of upgrading their talent. I'm not completely sold on Ryan, though Avi disagrees. Nonetheless, he's a player who should be enjoying his prime years over the duration of the contract, and that's exactly where JP Ricciardi should be spending his owner's coin. With Ryan making under $10 million a year, there's still $20-30 to spend on AJ Burnett (or hopefully not, for the sake of Jays fans), or someone else to upgrade the rotation. I've considered the Jays to be a team on the rise for quite a while now, and this move should bring them closer to catching, and eventually overtaking, the Yankees and Red Sox.


At 11:03 PM, Blogger Avi Schaumberg said...

This is nuts. $10 million a year. For a closer?! Yeah, I said in the earlier post that I liked BJ Ryan. But that's the kind of money that should be going to a starter, or a major contributor in the batting order, not someone playing 80 innings a year.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Greg said...

This is certainly a lot of money going to a guy who has only closed for a year. He's nasty, sure, but the Blue Jays would have been better off putting that money towards a stud #2 starter and a left-handed power hitter. Of course, having a reliable closer is nothing to scoff at, but they don't have the pieces in front of him where it will make as huge of a difference as it would say, on the Yankees or Red Sox.

The Orioles will stink on ice next season. Blech.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Alex said...

I wouldn't be so much concerned by the money, since it seems to be in the ballpark of going rates for elite closers (whether Ryan is, or can be one, remains to be seen). But if you think he'll be one, then more power to you (you being JP Ricciardi).

The thing I'd be wary about is giving him 5 years. BJ hasn't performed at a high level for long enough to warrant that kind of committment.

While they need starting pitching and left-handed power, most of the players who are available and fit that description have switched teams already (Beckett, Delgado, Thome). Their options now are limited to signing someone like a Burnett, or failing him, a Kevin Millwood, or holding onto their money in the hopes of acquiring someone mid-season or the following off-season.

Nonetheless, while I may look foolish if Ryan fails to emerge as a dominant closer, I still like this move for the Jays, despite all the question marks.


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