It would be so easy to call Adam Lind one of the biggest contract-extension busts in recent Toronto Blue Jays history.
Considering that he’s been a 0.8 fWAR player from 2010 through 2013 heading into play on Monday with a sub-par (for his DH/1B position) .752 OPS, Toronto has not gotten the requisite value even close to the $16 million that they’ve paid him since that extension was signed all those years ago. With a chance to buy him out for $2 million, you’d think it’d be a no-brainer move for the team to make, if only to move on in principal, yes?
Yet, you know what they say about the “what have you done for me lately” nature of this game, and well … it might make sense to actually pay him even more money next year to stay on the team.
For a large chunk of the Blue Jays fan base, that’s bound to be just a tad annoying given that Lind was essentially the worst 1B/DH in the entire game for years, but the 30-year old has benefited from a manager in John Gibbons who has not been afraid to stick to the platoon advantage that he provides.
You know the story by now — Lind crushes rightys, and can’t hit a beach ball against lefties. Though his season hasn’t been without its ups and downs (.708 OPS in April, .620 in June, .736 in July), the platoon splits have stayed true, as he’s hit right-handers to the tune of a .899 OPS through 346 PA compared to a .596 OPS vs. southpaws over just 89 PA.
No, he shouldn’t be on the field (-7.4 UZR/140 through 567 innings at first, 3.3 fielding runs below average), but as a platoon hitter vs. RHP only, he’s been able to generate the most value he’s had in years. In fact, his 1.7 fWAR for the Blue Jays this season is as much of a testament of proper talent usage as it is about his ability to bounce back.
Because … well, let’s face it — even though Lind can do through stretches of hitting like the best player in baseball, he’s been largely a below-average quantity with one limited, albeit valuable skill.
But is that skill worth taking on another $7 million in 2014 and risk the below replacement production that the team has gotten out of him in the last few years?
Looking at the approximate $8.4 million of value that the team has gotten from his 1.7 season thus far, you’d have to think so — as long as he doesn’t have to put on a glove or face a lefty, regardless of what kind of streak he might be on. His 1.018 OPS September tear doesn’t hurt his case either, but as Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com puts it, the biggest reason why he might stay in Toronto might not have to do with him at all.
Rather, it was to do with the Blue Jays finding out about Melky Cabrera‘s back tumor and the expectation that its successful removal will mean he can start at left field instead of moving over to Lind’s DH spot. That, however, is also to suggest that the team was more than happy to save the $5 million (with the buyout) and let him go … so I think it’s fair to say that it’s a fluid situation.
It’s definitely a major risk, and the past says the Blue Jays are likely not giving themselves very good odds; but given the relatively weak field of free agents who would fit in that role for the same price (Kendrys Morales? Michael Morse? James Loney?), Lind’s upside might just be the best that the team can get.
Sometimes it’s the devil you know, I suppose …