Alex Anthopoulos probably won’t strike very many baseball folks as someone who likes to waste payroll, but in the case of Maicer Izturis, that might just be the card that the Toronto Blue Jays GM has been dealt.
It’s really a self-inflicted issue, of course, given that he was the one who decided to hand the then 32-year old a guaranteed $10 million over three years (including a fourth year option with a $1 million buyout); but hey, nobody’s perfect, yes? No wonder why the bluebirds’ head honcho has seemed so hesitant when it comes to free agency over the years.
So how bad is the situation? Well, what actually seemed like a reasonable deal at first has gone so far downhill at this point that it might actually be worthwhile for the team to pay Izturis to stay home or play for another team.
That’s going to sound a little bit crazy if you consider the fact that the Blue Jays really don’t have a particularly desirable or viable option at second base. Both Munenori Kawasaki and Ryan Goins come with their own set of pros, but they’re largely outweighed by their fair share of cons. Even if Izturis isn’t going to be a starter, his versatility to play second base, third base and shortstop would at least make him a reasonable bench player, right?
Well … it depends on how you look at it, I suppose.
If you were to consider his 2013 to be a mulligan, then there’s really no reason why the team would pay him essentially to go away. After all, 2013 was his first full season where he accumulated a minus fWAR, and his poor .236/.288/310 triple-slash at the plate was afflicted by a career-low .249 BABIP, so maybe he could bounce to to be at least a replacement-level player, which would be reason enough for Toronto to keep him around.
Then again, if you look at just how eye-gougingly bad he was both at the plate but especially defensively (14.3 fielding runs below average), and you can see why his -2.1 fWAR might be seen as an advanced ticket out of town.
The number doesn’t just make him the worst on the team in 2013. In fact, it doesn’t only make him the worst in majors this past year either — but rather in the last two years. Izturis was so incredibly poor that his season ranks seventh among the 10 worst single seasons by fWAR (min. 350 PA) in the last decade. That kind of ineptitude isn’t just something to take lightly, you know?
At this rate, the best that Toronto could hope for might be for Izturis to not cost the team $10 million in wins by the end of his three years. Being that he was worth approximately -$10.6 million in 2013, he’ll have his work cut out for him.
So, are there any signs that the utility man could turn things around?
Between the fact this his OPS never topped .700 in any month this year, that his splits don’t really much of a notable trend in anything besides a bump in average, and that he limped away from the season by being placed on the 60-day DL due to an ankle injury … let’s just say that the light at the end of the tunnel is hard to see here.
And if the team is successful in finding an option for the middle infield from outside sources in the offseason, they might just turn off the flashlight on the Izturis experiment altogether.