Continuing my review of the roster decisions facing the Blue Jays this off-season, I will look at the four players who have a team option for 2014, and discuss what Jays face with each of them. Historically Alex has been creative in his contracts, allowing him flexibility with players and it has served him well.
All four players had decent seasons in 2013, and none are in an obvious decline. However at this point I believe only one is a no-discussion-to-be-had exercise the option case.
Casey Janssen ($4 million team option)
|2013 - Casey Janssen||4-1||56||0||0||0||34||2||52.2||39||17||15||3||13||50||2.56||.99|
Casey had his fourth solid season in a row for the Jays, as a reliever providing 1.3 fWAR in a role of "Proven Closer". Considering the contract Brandon League received last year--$22.5 million over three years--with worse stats, Casey is a bargain in market place at this price and would do much better on the open market. Even if the Jays had no spot for him on the roster, exercising the option would be an easy decision as he would be worth more on the trade market.
Adam Lind ($7 million team option, $2 million buy-out)
|2013 - Adam Lind||143||465||67||134||26||1||23||67||51||103||1||0||.288||.357||.497|
Adam Lind is a righty-masher, and his 151 wRC+ versus right-handed pitcher this year just confirmed it. When used appropriately he is a valuable asset, and he did provide some plus value with an fWAR of 1.8 this year. On the other side, he brings little on the defensive side, and is awful hitting against lefties, which means he requires a platoon partner.
So we have a slow platoon DH at this point, this creates roster issues, which were apparent when the Jays had a short bench this year. This is magnified when taking into consideration the question marks surrounding Melky Cabrera's ability to play the OF and the potential departure of Rajai Davis, a good platoon option, to free agency.
However, the option ultimately costs the Jays $6 million (cost of option, less buy-out, plus the $1 million buy-out next year), which makes it, from an asset management standpoint, "in the money". This is a recurring theme: from an asset standpoint it makes sense, but the roster has to be considered.
Munenori Kasawaki ($1 million team option)
|2013 - Munenori Kawasaki||96||240||27||55||6||5||1||24||32||41||7||1||.229||.326||.308|
Kawasaki is one of the feel-good stories from 2013. After being released by the Mariners with just one year in the majors as a Japanese import (for those who didn't know, Mune is Japaneeeeeeeeeeeeeeese), the Jays signed him to a minor league contract and needed him early in Toronto. The contract included an option for the second year. The discovery of the option was actually news to most of us, and little is known about it except the dollar amount.
Kawasaki presents good value as a bench player and when called into action has produced well, with defense and baserunning, and at the plate still did OK (78 wRC+) mainly due to his ability to take a walk. He is a fan favorite, and has options left so offers flexibility. However Ryan Goins has also shown he could compete for the same role, playing superior defense. Kawasaki does provide depth in the system, and the Jays still do not have a starting 2B.
(note: I have not included the possibility of declining, and signing him on a different contract, like was done with Rajai last year)
Mark DeRosa ($750,000 team option)
|2013 - Mark DeRosa||88||204||23||48||12||1||7||36||28||49||0||0||.235||.326||.407|
DeRosa actually performed well for the Jays in 2013. He is a replacement player, but this is what they thought they were getting and he delivered. We saw him more than we wanted (all the injuries did not help) but comparing to other players in similar roles over the last two years I consider him a pleasant surprise. He also provided good hitting against lefties, which is useful if Lind is still around, and brought Veteran Presents for everyone, something Alex Anthopoulos seems to value. Mark has hinted at retirement, if the Jays do plan on bringing him back, I hope this does not become an on-going saga like Darren Oliver last year.
To me he delivered what he was signed for, and his salary next year is the same, so how can you not use the option? Adding in the fact that his early signing last year forced the Jays to DFA Sam "Best arm in system" Dyson, I would question a decision to let him go.
As stated earlier, Casey is a no-brainer, and this is where the value of these options becomes obvious. This is the kind of gambles which help the franchise, either as contract below value, or as trade bait.
The other three are all borderline, and, to me, none are obvious without more roster directions. Adam Lind is the only one that actually has impact on the payroll parameters, but I think he can be flipped for full value, so should be exercised. Kawasaki provides depth, and we saw early on how important that was. As much as I like DeRosa, I kind of wish he would announce his retirement, I just see no reason for the Jays to decline the option they gave him, but I kind of wish they would as we will get no plus value from him, just presents that will be quickly forgotten.