With the World Series wrapping up as early as tomorrow night, there will finally start being real Blue Jays news to sink our teeth into (aside from the hitting coach leaving). Alex Anthopoulos and crew will be faced with four players who have team options for 2015 that the front office must either accept or decline. We've talked about the specific situations a little bit recently and it seems most people have reached a consensus on how they think the team will go about handling these four cases.
If you haven't been pouring over the contract statuses of the Blue Jays like some fellow Banterers have then here's a reminder of the 'option' options that the Blue Jays face in the coming days. Righty Brandon Morrow has a $10 million option for 2015 with a $1 million buyout. Adam Lind has a $7.5 million option with a $1 million buyout, as well as a $8 million buyout for 2016 with only a $500,000 buyout. Lefty starter J.A. Happ has a $6.7 million option for next season with a $200,000 buyout. Lastly, Dustin McGowan has a $4 million option with a $500,000 buyout for 2015.
Your job in the comments section is to give your best guess as to how each of the four major option cases are handled by the team. The third choice is that the team declines an option, but then re-signs the player on a different contract. There's no prize for getting all four correct, except probably some people emailing you for the next week's lottery numbers.
As I've written before, I believe the Morrow contract will be declined to free up the money to make larger upgrades to the team. It'd be nice to bring Brandon back on a more incentive-laden contract for a few years, but there's going to be a plethora of teams lining up to give him another shot as a starter while paying a lot more than the Blue Jays will be willing to offer.
I actually think the Blue Jays pick up the option on Lind, since he's provided pretty consistent value when he's used correctly. His type of skill-set will also certainly produce a ton of trade value near the deadline as a rental if the Blue Jays are out of the playoff race (please don't let this happen). It seems much more likely that the 2016 option is declined since it has a cheaper buyout and Lind's back issues will likely start to catch up to him eventually.
I think the Happ option is a no-brainer as he's done nothing wrong during his time in Toronto and provides fair value for a $6.7 million contract. He's a veteran fifth starter and no one is expecting anything more from him, so there isn't really any good reason to let him walk. Perhaps if you believe strongly that young guys like Aaron Sanchez can step right into the rotation then there wouldn't be a need for Happ, but that isn't going to be the case.
Lastly, the McGowan option comes down to what the front office thinks they can get out of the righty in 2015. If they see him as a possible closer or high-leverage reliever, then $4 million isn't too steep of a price to pay considering all of the other affordable contracts currently in the bullpen. The sentimental value of McGowan finally performing after so many years of struggle shouldn't play into the decision, but it would certainly be sad to see him go this offseason. I like to think that Anthopoulos will pick McGowan's option up.
Those are my predictions (yes to Lind, Happ, and McGowan, plus a no to Morrow), now it's time to hear what all you folks think.