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While much of North America will spend Friday shopping for post-Thanksgiving deals, MLB general managers can’t count on finding bargains on Black Friday. A few months from now players will start getting anxious, deals will emerge and — at long last — general managers will spend.
Until then, teams are still paying full price. The recent contracts for pitchers Kyle Gibson (three years, $30 million) and Drew Pomeranz (four years, $34 million) are evidence of that. So, in the absence of real free agent bargains, here’s a speculative look at a few Black Friday deals that would likely appeal to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Michael Pineda: Two years, $16 million
Though Pineda will miss the first six weeks of the 2020 season due to a PED suspension, there were enough extenuating circumstances to reduce his suspension from 80 to 60 games. And from a talent standpoint, the six-foot-seven right-hander offers more upside than most with more career strikeouts than innings pitched.
Wade Miley: One year, $8.5 million
Miley’s September was truly awful — 21 earned runs allowed in just 11.1 innings — but don’t let that obscure the bigger picture here. He still posted a 3.98 ERA on the season while making at least 29 starts for the seventh time in the last eight years. That kind of durability would balance out an inexperienced Toronto rotation. Of course, as Miley enters his age-33 season, he has a real shot at a two-year deal. Getting him for one would be a bargain.
Jordan Lyles: One year, $7 million ($6.5-million salary in 2020 with $500K buyout on $8-million club option for 2021)
The Blue Jays evidently value Lyles’ former teammate Chase Anderson at $8.5 million. Why not also add Lyles, who’s three years younger and coming off a rather similar year? After a strong finish in Milwaukee, Lyles should have many teams interested. Maybe he’d rather avoid the AL East. If not, getting him on a one-year deal with an option would be a bargain worthy of any Black Friday bargain hunter.
If only it were this simple, right? In reality, the search for impact players is far more complex than a sale on TVs or tablets. If you’re an electronics retailer, it’s not all about profit margin. You gain something by building brand awareness and shaping consumers’ habits.
That works when you have a near-limitless supply of goods, but if there were only a few dozen reliable TVs available across North America, there would be no such thing as Black Friday. Retailers would hold out for top dollar instead of catering to buyers’ desires. Who knows what a TV would cost.
In some ways, that logic applies to the pitching market. Sure, the Blue Jays would like to do some deep discount shopping. Who wouldn’t? But they’re buying pitchers here, not electronics, and there are only so many arms to go around. Under those circumstances, it’d perfectly reasonable for the likes of Pineda, Miley and Lyles to demand full retail price.