Before going after starting pitching, which obviously should be Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous' number 1 priority this off-season, there are 3 basic moves that I think should be made by the 3rd year GM. 2 to help(or clear up) the bullpen, and 1 to fill the void at second base that will be made when, hopefully, Kelly Johnson packs his things, and goes to strike out somewhere else in the MLB.
Brandon Lyon walk as a Free Agent: It is hard for me to say this as it has been a great pleasure to see Lyon sit batters down like it's going out of style since coming over in that huge not so huge trade with the Astros completed in July, but it needs to be done. The 33 year old from Salt Lake City,Utah has a k/9 ratio of 11.1 with the Jays this year(20.1 IP), but is making $5.5MM in 2012. Given his success this season, I see no reason why that salary will not be in the $7MM range next season, which is a huge amount of money, and frankly, I rather see that spent elsewhere. Unfortunately the Blue Jays will not receive any compensation for letting Lyon walk, except for that extra cash to spend on other aspects of the team that need fixing.
If Lyon is not brought back, the bullpen in 2013 should look like this, barring any FA signings and/or trades, injuries.
CL Casey Janssen
SU Sergio Santos
SU Darren Oliver
MRP Steve Delabar
MRP Brad Lincoln
MRP Aaron Loup
MRP Brett Cecil
Which brings me to my next point of...
2. Sign Brett Cecil to a 4 year, $6.25MM contract extension with 2, $1.5MM club options for 2017 and 2018:"What? The guy has a career 4.73 ERA and you want to extend him?" Ya, that's exactly what I want done...how did you know?(was it because it says that above this?) Cecil is lights out against lefties, and will make a great reliever for many years to come. His velocity has been down as a starter the past couple of seasons as a starter, but when he relieves, his velocity sits at 91-92. Still not so good, but at least whenever he makes a mistake at that velocity, it won't be out of the ballpark every time. With the upcoming vacancy in the Blue Jays bullpen due to Brandon Lyon's imminent departure, and due to he fact that Cecil is 26 year old lefty killer who can fill multiple roles for you in the bullpen and rotation, there is no good reason why not to extend him. This contract would buy out his 3 arbitration years, and his 1st year of free agency. Then, AA would have two perfectly priced Anthoptions on him for 2017 and 2018. This is an easy way to keep Cecil, who is a lefty, in your bullpen for at least 4 more years, and save money. Instead of having to sign a lefty killer every off-season, AA will now have one for a cheap price, and, for 2013, should make a nasty 1-2 punch against lefties with Darren Oliver. Another reason why this is a no brainer for Alex; some fans are starting to turn against him, and signing Cecil, who is a fan favourite, could get some of those "Fans" back. This move would solidify the bullpen, and save money, which could be used to...
3. Sign Marco Scutaro to a 1 year, $6.5MM contract, with a club option for 2014 at $6MM: Scutaro is the exact opposite of current Blue Jays 2nd baseman Kelly Johnson. He rarely misses the ball(only 48 strikeouts in all of 2012), and, as a result of that, he gets on base, a lot! He has a .372 OBP since being acquired by the Giants in July(49 GP), and a career mark of .339. Marco, who played with the Jays for 2 season in 2008 and 2009, is just the stop gap AA needs, as there really are no second base or shortstop prospects in the Blue Jays system right now. Chances are Scutaro will re-sign with the Giants, as he said he would like to do, but if not, AA better jump on this opportunity to get a second baseman. A move like this would allow the Blue Jays to trade one of Yunel Escobar or Adeiny Hechavarria, as only one of them would no longer be needed. So, a signing of Scutaro could fill a hole in the rotation. Yup, another amazing reason to get Scutaro back north of the border!
What do you think of these moves, let us know with your well appreciated comments below.
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