Today at 8 PM eastern is the deadline for teams to tender 2020 contracts to unsigned players. I’ll get to that in more detail, but yesterday’s iciness in Ontario had me thinking back to the last substantial ice storm here in late December 2013, which triggered a trip down memory lane that ties into today’s tender deadline.
That’s because the last time the tender deadline fell on a Monday was back in 2013. Because there are 365 (or 366) days in a year, but 52 weeks is only 364 days, a given date on the calendar shifts by one day of the week each year (or two in a leap year). A particular date will occur on the same day of the week every five or six year, a full cycle occurring in 28 years.
So 2019 is what I think of as a repeat of 2013 (and 2002, 1996, 1991, etc). Depending on how leap years fall, once in that cycle that day will be “skipped“ and it’ll be 11 yeas in between. Which is why the tender deadline having fallen on Sunday last year and thus backed up to the last Friday in November, that will not occur again until 2029.
2013 was of course a miserable year for Blue Jay fans, between with the massive expectations, falling on their faces almost immediately, a stunning charge back to contention, and then another collapse. By July in was clear they were out of it for good, followed by a brutal two month slog to the finish line. I’ve never been so happy for a baseball season to be over, needing some time to flush out the bad taste of 2013 before turning to 2014.
At the end of November, the GTA got its first little skiff of snow, and uncharacteristically it stuck around being unseasonably cold. It warmed over the weekend, and I distinctly remember looking outside on this Monday morning six years ago at the last little spots of snow receding and thinking “I’m ready for winter to be over and baseball to come back”.
Whether is was the warmer temperatures or the more likely the tender deadline, the Blue Jays too were similarly stirred from their winter slumber six years ago today, as reflected by the succession of stories that appeared on this here site:
- 10:05 AM ET: Dioner Navarro Signs With The Blue Jays
- 12:27 PM: What to do with J.P. Arencibia?
- 1:40 PM: Blue Jays to Non-Tender J.P. Arencibia
- 11:54 PM: J.P. Arencibia a free agent, not tendered a contract from Blue Jays
As the comments in those threads will evidence, I was not the least bit impressed with Dioner Navarro and tying was clearly limited budget capacity. Not that I was enamoured with J.P. Arencibia, but he had been reasonably productive for a catcher until the bottom fell out in the second half of 2013, and if the Jays were looking to make a change, I was more interested in Ryan Hanigan — who was said to be available, with some on-base ability and elite defensive metrics (+86 runs over the previous five season despite being platooned). The next day was traded cheaply to Tampa.
So the news of six years ago left me quite salty, perhaps amplified by how optimistic the Spring feeling had started off the day. I say that sort of prefacing what comes next, which is an exercise in accountability for a prediction I made that afternoon:
If the Jays non-tender JPA today or trade his rights on the cheap, in 5 years they will regret moving him at least as much as trading away Yan Gomes on the cheap last season.
It may that they regret moving neither in 5 years, and a very small chance both roughly equally. But I think there’s a decent probability I’m right about this. If I’m wrong, I’ll be spectacularly wrong.
It’s been six years, but considering that Arencibia’s been out of baseball for over three years whereas Gomes, despite lots of bumps, was a platoon starter for the World Series champion, we’ll go with spectacularly wrong indeed. But hey, I think I get some credit for getting that part right.
Alas, this ended up as essentially the only significant offseason move for the Blue Jays in what became a winter of our extreme discontent. It turned out that Alex Anthopoulos had committed basically his entire 2014 budget at the end of 2012, and was forced into trying to pass the hat around in Spring Training to sign Ervin Santana with deferrals that would in turn eat into future budget room. Frankly, one of the more pathetic moments in franchise history.
The inactivity was especially disconcerting against the expectation they would aggressively add to a veteran core that they were essentially committed to through 2015. That’s not the same backdrop as this winter, but given the front office raising expectations only to seemingly back off, let’s hope it doesn’t end similarly in this winter in a repeating year.
Turning to that tender deadline, while theoretically there is a decision to make on all unsigned players under reserve (on the 40-man roster), that tends to be a formality for pre-arb players. The action today will almost exclusively be on the players eligible for arbitration, where teams have a decision to make as player earnings jump above the MLB minimum.
At the outset of the offseason, I identified nine arbitration eligibles in my 2020 lookahead. One of those was Wilmer Font as a Super Two, and a mea culpa is in order here as he falls 30 days short of the two years, 115 day cutoff so I got some wires crossed somewhere. He’s still going to be out of options, and though I’d probably say there’s a non-zero chance of him being non-tendered, he pitched well enough to think he’ll have a spot in 2020’s bullpen.
With Ken Giles a lock to be tendered, the surprise release of Ryan Tepera and the not surprising release of Devon Travis, that leaves five players on whom there is some sort of decision to be made. I’ve overviewed each over the last 10 days, and while I’m not going to repeat that here, I included polls in each so let’s take a look at what BBB readers would do with each:
I put the odds of a tender at 75%, and it turns out you the readers on average perfectly agree. However, only a small minority would be willing to gamble on a multiyear deal, which I could still see making good sense for both sides.
It’s perhaps sinister for Drury’s future that there were 666 votes, a clear majority of whom are done with Drury. The waivers on Jonathan Villar I think should be awarded by 2 PM, so perhaps developments in the last week could impact with happens here? Drury non-tender would be a clear signal that just being a targeted acquisition of the current front office is no longer a guarantee of a continued roster spot.
Likewise, a majority are unwilling to bring Law back, and I think he’s certainly in the most precarious position and in absolute terms more likely than not to be non-tendered today.
By contrast, a small majority want to keep Maile, and while I understand the thinking, I think it underestimates the Jays keep him around for 2020 at least.
I had put the odds of a tender at 98%, which is perhaps a it of hubris, and in hindgith I’d stick to my rule of not going above 95%. But not even 80% would unconditionally tender Shoemaker, with 8% willing to cut him loose (up from about 4% in the early voting on Friday).
Finally, Gregor Chisholm relayed this weekend that his sources are telling him not to expect Starling Marte or Shogo Akiyama to solve the dilemma in centre field. The former is not terribly surprising given the price Pittsburgh will surely want and the limited two years of control; the latter will surely disappoint many who were interested in him.
There should be a bunch of players on the move today, with Blake Treinan striking me as a particularly interesting possibility with what seems to be a likelihood of Oakland moving him. At the right cost of course. If the front office is ready to move on from Anthony Alford as offseason chatter seems to suggest, could he sufficiently intrigue the Athletics?