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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Blue Jays - Signed Rios, Hill

Toronto Blue Jays - Signed RF Alexis Rios and 2B Aaron Hill to long-term contracts.

Rios’s deal is worth $64 million over 6 years (with a club option for $13.5 million for 2015).  He’s not a superstar, but I’d rather have him through 2014 than most of the outfielders that were in free agency this year, and that’s a helluva bargain.  There’s little chance that Rios becomes some 45-homers-a-year God, but he doesn’t need to be with 4 years of free agency being bought.  I haven’t seen a detailed accounting of the years and salaries, but if we conservatively assume that he’d make $15 million in his last 2 years of arbitration, the Jays are getting 4 free agent years from Rios for about $12 million a year.  A lot can happen in 2 years, of course, which is why the Jays can get him for only $12 million.  No complaints here.  Of course, I didn’t complain about Vernon Wells’s new contract and it’s not looking as good as it did a year ago (though Wells is making a lot more than Rios in his new deal).

Hill scores $4 million a year through 2011 and the Jays hold 3 option years, so he must love Toronto (I went to the city for SABR convention a few years ago and I’d have to agree).  Like Rios, he won’t be a superstar, but he’s an underrated offensive contributor with an awesome glove.  He deserves a Gold Glove or two, but a lot players seem to not get the award when they deserve it and start getting it when they stop deserving it, so maybe he’ll have a small run around 2012 or so.

ZiPS Projection - Aaron Hill
————————————————————————————————————
          AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
————————————————————————————————————
Year-to-Date 16   1   5   1 0   0   2   0   2   0 .313 .313 .375
Rest-of-Yr?  561 71 152 35 2   9 64 40 79   2 .271 .325 .389
Proj. 2008   577 72 157 36 2   9 66 40 81   2 .272 .325 .388  
————————————————————————————————————
2009?      583 77 166 35 3 10 77 47 86   2 .285 .341 .407          
2010?      583 76 160 34 2 11 72 44 94   1 .274 .328 .396
2011?      564 73 157 33 2   9 66 42 88   1 .278 .331 .392
————————————————————————————————————
Top Offensive Comps: Dave Cash, Steve Sax

 

ZiPS Projection - Alex Rios
————————————————————————————————————
          AB   R   H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB   BA   OBP   SLG
————————————————————————————————————
Year-to-Date 12   2   4   0 0   0   3   4   2   3 .333 .500 .333
Rest-of-Yr?  547 91 160 33 5 21 87 48 95   9 .293 .360 .486
Proj. 2008   559 93 164 33 5 21 90 52 97 12 .293 .364 .483
————————————————————————————————————
2009?      547 90 160 34 4 19 88 48 100 12 .293 .355 .473      
2010?      560 95 167 36 4 20 92 49 99 12 .298 .359 .484
2011?      540 89 158 34 3 18 84 47 96   9 .293 .354 .467
2012?      518 86 149 32 3 17 81 46 99   7 .288 .351 .459
2013?      494 82 142 32 3 17 77 44 96   6 .287 .352 .468
2014?      483 79 138 31 2 15 74 42 97   4 .286 .349 .451
————————————————————————————————————
Top Offensive Comps: Carl Furillo, Derek Bell (sorry)

Dan Szymborski Posted: April 05, 2008 at 03:28 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. J. Michael Neal Posted: April 05, 2008 at 07:46 PM (#2731841)
Are those American dollars, or were Rios and Hill smart enough to demand multi-colored money?
   2. rLr Is King Of The Romans And Above Grammar Posted: April 05, 2008 at 08:00 PM (#2731853)
Are those American dollars, or were Rios and Hill smart enough to demand multi-colored money?

Barbadian Dollars.
   3. J. Lowenstein Apathy Club Posted: April 05, 2008 at 11:04 PM (#2732180)
ZiPS has always dealt with Hill in a very confusing manner (confusing to me at least) - I suppose this is the natural and appropriate discount for second basemen. It's predicting him to fall off a cliff this year at 26, and never again to reach the levels of performance he has had in his first three years in the majors. Does ZiPS generally predict second basemen to peak offensively at 24-25?
   4. MSI Posted: April 06, 2008 at 07:02 AM (#2732381)
Hill would be on my short list of underrated players in baseball, and I think he'll get better. The Rios deal is as much as a bargain as the Wells deal is an overpayment, and at least one of them can play CF, so that balances that out. I think Rios can be a 30/30 guy, and he can hit for average and take walks respectably. He's solid too...a great day for jays fans.
   5. shock Posted: April 06, 2008 at 08:18 AM (#2732400)
As I recall, ZiPS is still shortchanging Hill a bit because of his relatively unimpressive minor league stats.
   6. shock Posted: April 06, 2008 at 08:19 AM (#2732401)
The Rios deal is as much as a bargain as the Wells deal is an overpayment ... so that balances that out. I


Heh. I remember when people used to say this sort of thing about the Hinkse/Wells deals, with Wells being the bargain.
   7. IronChef Chris Wok Posted: April 06, 2008 at 12:09 PM (#2732417)
so he must love Toronto (I went to the city for SABR convention a few years ago and I'd have to agree)

You love the armpit of Canada?
   8. clowns to the left of me; STEAGLES to the right Posted: April 06, 2008 at 02:30 PM (#2732446)
i believe that dan's rationalization of ZiPS dealing with aaron hill focused on 2 things, A) his minor league numbers were fairly mediocre, and 2) non-elite 2B tend to have very short careers.
   9. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 07, 2008 at 04:05 AM (#2733143)
One thing, however (and I will admit that this is Christina's Kahrl's idea, not mine. I wish it was though). While each deal works by itself, is it certain that they are part of a plan to put a contender in Toronto? Yes, Rios and Hill are decent and young and they will be paid undermarket or market (or something close) prices. not bad deals. But this is a team that has Wells (decent but not great) locked up long term as well as a fading Scott Rolen. Don't the Blue Jays need to find some real impact players? It can be nice to lock up decent players but if you have nine decent players locked up that leaves you with about 85-90 wins in a division that is only getting tougher.

So, good on their own but not as good when placed into the context of what the Blue have to do to make the playoffs.

See, and I did it without any mention of Wilhelmine Germany(Christina of course did not in her article)! It can be done!
   10. mr. man Posted: April 07, 2008 at 06:38 PM (#2733622)
Mark,

I sent Christina an annoyed letter about her article. Of course JP should have picked Tulowitzki, but real impact players aren't just floating around there waiting to be picked up. Would the jays have been better off letting wells go and signing torii hunter or aaron rowand? there's just not that musch separating those guys.

Aside from signing Bonds, there's not much more to be done for the jays. they don't have the prospects to acquire star-level players, and are left in a position where if the rotation can last all year long (unlikely, of course), they're legit contenders. Picking the team apart to rebuild won't work at this point because of the team's status with fans: Jays attendance has risen 44% since Ricciardi joined them, and you've got to think a lot of that is the attitude that they're trying to stay respectable (in the spirit of the ryan/burnett/thomas deals). The fans would like to see playoff games, but as things stand now, the Jays have a lot to gain economically by exploiting their monopoly on baseball for ALL OF CANADA (34 million potential fans) by building the brand in the short term. I'd like to see them eat overbay's contract in the fall and sign Teixeira, but that's a ways away.
   11. mr. man Posted: April 07, 2008 at 06:45 PM (#2733642)
Oh and...

I forgot to add that Rios may still have room to grow. Maybe he'll never hit more than 30 homers, but watching him so far this year, I'm encouraged to see that he's going deep into counts and has 6 walks in his first 6 games. Batting 3rd (rather than 1st as he was much of last year) he's going to see fewer good pitches because he's getting respect around the league. Is it not inconcievable that he takes 25 walks a season to his game and hits .300/.375/.515 for the next 4 years with above-average defense in right? He's 27 this year. I can't see him having a hard time putting up these numbers.
   12. rfloh Posted: April 07, 2008 at 06:52 PM (#2733658)
Don't the Blue Jays need to find some real impact players? It can be nice to lock up decent players but if you have nine decent players locked up that leaves you with about 85-90 wins in a division that is only getting tougher.


Sure, every team needs and wants impact players. Aaron Hill for $12M / 4 is not going to prevent you from signing an impact player. Christina, in her article said of Hill "He's not going to be Jeff Kent with a glove, because there's not a lot in his performance profile across his career to suggest that he could be."

Obviously Hill is not going to be Jeff Kent with a glove. Jeff Kent with a glove is not going to cost you $12M / 4. He's likely to cost you $85M / 7: Chase Utley.
   13. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 07, 2008 at 11:51 PM (#2734311)
Again, it isn't the Aaron Hill OR the Rios deal that is blah. Instead it is their tendency to lock up decent at best players, complimentary pieces to long to term deals. On their own, the Hill and Rios deals are fine. When added to the Wells deal, the Rolen contract, the fact that Frank Thomas will play enough to get his option and, the Overbay deal, etc. it seems that they are running in place.

Mr. Man has a good point about building the brand in Canada to the point where maybe they can bring in enough revenue to be a high rolling team. And again, it isnt' that I dislike the deals. But they seem to be a part of a pattern of the Blue Jays having long term commiments ot players who are complimentary pieces at best. I didn't say they were bad deals, just not as good as they would be when taken on their own.
   14. mr. man Posted: April 08, 2008 at 12:00 AM (#2734321)
I find it hard to see how either Rios or Hill is a complimentary player; they both look to be well above-average players for the next 4 years. Don't press yourself to lump them in with guys like Overbay just so you can argue a point. What would you suggest the Jays do instead? It's not as if there are better RF and 2B options out there to be had. In light of the lack of alternatives, these moves are the best possible for the Jays irregardless of their other problems.
   15. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:09 AM (#2734554)
Maybe you don't really need a real star in baseball. Everyone gets a turn to bat, the field is too big for one defender to catch everything. A team that wins just 60% of its games is a very good team. So perhaps a roster completely comprised of above-average players can win 60% of its game and be a pennant contender. Possibly such a team would be at disadvantage in the playoffs, when facing a lot of premier players could expose them. But of course, plenty of below-average players have managed to shine in a short series.
   16. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:29 AM (#2734565)
I find it hard to see how either Rios or Hill is a complimentary player

They're each a complimentary player in the sense that, if they're the best player on your team, you're probably not going to win anything. I'm not saying that this is the case in Toronto, by the way. And not to pick nits, but I'd like to see another year of Hill hitting at or near the level he did last season before declaring him "above average" for good and all. With his plate discipline problem, without the power he flashed last year he's average.

So perhaps a roster completely comprised of above-average players can win 60% of its game and be a pennant contender.

Yes, but the difficulty it's actually easier to find one or two excellent players than it is to find nine (or really ten, possibly eleven) slightly-above-average ones. Or it would seem to be. If it were so simple as to find a bunch of above-average players, none of whom are game-changers or cost a lot, you'd see more of it. If you look through the recent history of teams that have made the post-season, nearly every team has either strong pitching or at least one legitimate star afield. This is true of all of last year's playoff teams, and the year before's. I'm too lazy at the moment to go through the rosters of every team going back to the beginning of the wildcard era, but my guess is that you'd find very few exceptions. It's hard to win in baseball without at least one star player, either a pitcher or a hitter.
   17. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: April 08, 2008 at 05:55 AM (#2734576)
My overall point is that it is possible to have a series of deals (trades, signing, etc.) that are each good on their own but aren't as impressive when viewed as a whole. I fear, actually fear isn't the right word as I am a Yankees fan, that this is the case in Toronto. On the major league level I can't think of too many "bad" deals that theyhave made, yet they really haven't been much of a factor in the AL since, I don't know, 1993 (ok that is a stretch but you get the point)?

And like voxtor I am not sure that it is a certainty that Rios and Hill will be 'above average' players for the next four years.


Finally, I would have to admit that I do not know what I would have them do instead, they aren't in a great situation.
   18. Charter Member of the Jesus Melendez Fanclub Posted: April 08, 2008 at 06:25 AM (#2734590)
Yes, but the difficulty it's actually easier to find one or two excellent players than it is to find nine (or really ten, possibly eleven) slightly-above-average ones.

I agree, that's probably true.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: April 08, 2008 at 06:40 AM (#2734595)
Finally, I would have to admit that I do not know what I would have them do instead, they aren't in a great situation.

Well, to not have signed Wells to that huge extension or traded for Glaus (leading to Rolen) in the first place. Although neither deal was a disaster, I didn't expect either to work out well when they were made. These two deals are much better.

At this point, they'll likely have to ride out Rolen (barring a bounceback) but surely there's still a market out there for Wells though there's no immediate need to move him until they have good alternatives (preferably from their system).

Would the jays have been better off letting wells go and signing torii hunter or aaron rowand?

No but that's not the argument I'd make nor I suspect the one Kahrl is making (though I haven't read that article). This year, there was not much else the Jays could do. And the Hill and Rios deals have no impact on the 2008 Jays. The worry is that they have so much payroll tied up for the next few years that they won't be able to add significant talent -- which would be fine if the talent they have tied up was truly elite talent. For 09-10 they have Burnett ($24), Rolen ($22), Halladay ($30), Ryan ($20), Wells ($31 ... then he gets the mammoth raise in 2011 ... how they're gonna survive that I have no idea), Overbay ($14), Rios (?? let's say $15), and Hill (?? $5?). So that's $80 M each year right there and, given pitcher health, Rios is the only one of those guys I'm confident will be above-average though, aside from pitcher health, none of them scare me too much performance-wise either.

Hindsight's 20/20 but I wasn't a fan of the Glaus trade (though he was healthier than I expected), the Wells or Ryan signings. That's $36 M there and now we're potentially talking Santana plus.

As to Wells, the salary jumps to $23 in 2011 and $21 for the next 3 years. Now who knows, maybe he'd be seen as Hunter, in which case he'd probably make at least that on the 2011 FA market. Or maybe he'd be seen as Rowand and make much less. Or maybe he'd be seen as Cameron and make a LOT less. But unless revenues keep growing substantially, I see that contract putting the Jays in a very difficult situation. Nobody's going to want to trade for that contract unless it's a Rolen-Glaus type deal or the Jays throw in a lot of money (and don't expect much in return).

There will be a good chunk of money coming off the books then (and Rios and Hill starting to make the 'big' money) so it's not so much that it will be "unaffordable" but that it will hamper their ability to address other needs.
   20. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 08, 2008 at 06:56 AM (#2734600)
surely there's still a market out there for Wells though there's no immediate need to move him until they have good alternatives (preferably from their system).

Do you see Rios as a viable alternative to Wells in CF? His defense seems to be well-regarded, and Crisp in Boston seems to have proved what everybody other than I believed -- that an excellent defender in a corner can learn to play center -- and a RF would be easier to come by in any of a number of ways (trade, free agency, what have you) than a CF. It's possible that Rios in CF is a more valuable player than Wells in CF, contracts regardless. It seems to me that, if there truly is a market for Wells (probably to be had after this year, as many contenders have shiny new CFs with whom they should be well pleased or at the very least to whom they are deeply in debt), it's possible that his return could be a RF who is ready now. That would almost certainly take a cash outlay on the part of the Blue Jays, but anything that's more than a pure dump will require that.
   21. rfloh Posted: April 08, 2008 at 07:48 AM (#2734604)
And not to pick nits, but I'd like to see another year of Hill hitting at or near the level he did last season before declaring him "above average" for good and all. With his plate discipline problem, without the power he flashed last year he's average.


With his D, he's above average. Most of the metrics rate him at least 10 runs above average defensively. In 2007, RZR had Hill at +18 runs, ZR at +13 runs. UZR had him as the 3rd best 2b in the AL, +14 runs. In 2006, UZR had him at +28 / 150 games. In 2005, +17 / 150 games.

With that kind of D he would have to be a pretty bad hitter to be just average. Even if he returns to his 2005-2006 levels, he's still above average. BPro, by Batting Runs above average had him at -3 offensively in 2005, -7 in 2006. BBRef's batting runs had him -3 and -6.5 in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Combine his offense and defense and he's above average, even without positional adjustment for 2b.
   22. Mike Green Posted: April 08, 2008 at 06:01 PM (#2734970)
Hill's defence was, according to all measures that I am aware of, better than 10 runs above average. The Fielding Bible has him as the best defensive second baseman in baseball over 2006-07 at +22 each year. He had made the transition from shortstop at the beginning of 2006.

Right now, he is a good player with an even balance of skills (he's an excellent baserunner on top of the other stuff). If he stays healthy, there is reason to believe that he could be a great player. If he doesn't, he might be out of the league in 5 years. The contract is a good gamble, though, and one of Ricciardi's best moves.

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