When I was looking ahead to 2015, and how the roster might take shape through subtle (or dramatic) moves, what became immediately known to me was how many options the Toronto Blue Jays had on their players for 2015, and beyond. More specifically, Alex Anthopolous has structured the team such that he has club options on the following players: Brandon Morrow, Adam Lind, Sergio Santos, J.A. Happ, Dustin McGowan, and Josh Thole (surprisingly). Combined there's a total of $32.550 million worth of club options between the five.
I'm of the opinion that Brandon Morrow's $10,000,000 option for 2015 ought to be declined. As much as I love watching Morrow and his charming facial hair toe the rubber when he's on, I think he's thrown his last pitch with the Blue Jays. Unless he's receptive to the idea of coming back to the team as a reliever, I certainly don't feel comfortable committing that much money to Morrow. Between the injuries and the command issues, Brandon Morrow is probably better served finding greener pastures.
Joining him in the free agent fray is DH Adam Lind, whose $8,000,000 option is too much money for a player whom cannot play a position without hurting his back. I've really grown tired of having no flexibility from the bench spots, and part of the problem is having Lind on the roster. I love watching him hit right-handed pitchers. That said, I can come up with more creative ways to spend the money owed to Adam Lind, than on him.
Dustin McGowan's modest option (at $4,000,000) is certainly attractive if McGowan can keep himself together for 120 innings or so, but if another injury occurs, it will be awfully difficult to keep Dustin in the fold. He's been such a great story, I just wouldn't feel right without giving him the chance to remain on the Blue Jays. The 7th spot in the bullpen ought to have McGowan's name on it in 2015. If he breaks however, I'm not sure the Blue Jays have any more super glue to put him back together.
Sergio Santos is an interesting case, since he only has 4 years of service time accrued. Should the Blue Jays elect to buy Santos out of his current contract, the Blue Jays would then take him through arbitration for the final year. It would cost the Blue Jays two options years, but given that relievers who throw sliders as often as Santos don't typically age well, I'm in favor of taking Santos through arbitration as opposed to paying him $6,000,000 for 2015. His options for 2016-2017 are for $8,000,000 and $8,750,000 respectively, making the option years not much of a bargain at all. His 2014 salary is 3,375,000$, and going through arbitration, I'll put his 2015 salary (conservatively) at $4,250,000. Including the buy-out of $750,000 to forfeit the club options, that's a $5,000,000 cap hit, and boom the Jays have saved a cool $1,000,000!
J.A. Happ is another interesting case. He's the least likable pitcher to watch on the Blue Jays, and with the exception of Daisuke Matsuzaka, he may very well be the most exhausting pitcher to watch in all of baseball. So many pitches, so few outs. Men on base constantly, often via another dreaded walk. It's amazing that he has fans at all (that aren't related to him). As it turns out, I am one of the few living survivors of J.A. Happ fanaticism. Despite all of his shortcomings and flaws as a major league pitcher, he still manages to do enough things average enough where he isn't a complete disaster. Despite him being less efficient with pitches than I am with words, Happ can still make good on his modest $5,200,000 salary owed to him in 2014 if he continues to be a little below average for enough innings. He's valuable depth, and his 2015 option ($6,700,000) could prove useful.
Josh Thole is a lock to have his option picked up. It's reasonably priced ($1,750,000), it keeps him with R.A. Dickey, and it's convenient for me not to have to write about.
With so much baseball left to be played in 2014, it seems a bit early to be making predictions on whether or not options for the following season will be picked up. We don't know how the rest of the season will unfold, and how McGowan/Santos/Happ will pitch. They are all teetering on the option fence, to me. Good 2014's save Happ/McGowan/Santos most likely. Bad 2014's punctuated by injury and ineffectivess, and they're all probably in different organizations next year. Deciding which of, if any, of these three pitchers options will be arduous tasks indeed.
What would you do with these six fine players and their club options? Let me know! Thanks for reading, Go Jays Go!