Jays have announced the B.J. Ryan signing. E-mailer Mark Freedman has already started off the thread:
"Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid. You don't pay a closer that much. They break down and are replaceable."
Well yes, no one has ever paid a closer this much ($47 million for five seasons is the figure in all reports). No one has overpaid one this much, either. And yes, they do break down -- but so does any athlete. As for replaceable, the alternative here is incumbent Miguel Batista, who isn't your prototypical power reliever, and has already been mentioned in trade talk involving Texas and Milwaukee for position players. He's replaceable, as were the parade of pretenders that preceded him in '03 and '04.
There's nothing wrong with this move, even if a power hitter or ever another starter are more pressing lineup concerns. It's the price you pay for playing in the big sandbox.
Over the jump (yeah, I've finally decided to start using it), there's more, including bits from the press conference.
Given that Ryan has no real injury history and has had a relatively light workload over his career (381 innings) I don't think the risk involved with a 5 year contract is as worrisome as it might appear at first.
My take: J.P. Ricciardi has chosen to overspend for the best reliever available with his first off-season move -- and no wonder. The Jays have been out of this free agent game for a while -- Ryan is their biggest free agent signing since Roger Clemens eight years ago. $47 mil' goes up in blinking neon lights. This is the ante. They're playing again. That's a lot more than you could say for some winters past.
Some highlights from the press conference:
Ted Rogers, owner, on Ryan: "This guy's bigger than I am. Paid more, too."
Ricciardi: "B.J.'s representatives asked us if we would consider doing a five-year deal. For us, we didn't think it was that big of a deal. For us, we feel like we have a lot of comfort for the next five years, knowing that someone in his prime is going to be pitching for us."
Ricciardi on the highest-paid reliever tag: "Billy Wagner hasn't signed yet, so that might only last a few days. We did a lot of work B.J., and we targetted him as a guy just coming into his prime in that role. And we think that to bring him here we were going to have to step up to the plate, get involved with some of the teams that are out there bidding for his services -- and if it wasn't us making him the highest-paid, it was going to be someone else making him the highest-paid. I think this is a testament to Mr. Rogers that he gave us the money, he allowed us to do this. This is one we didn't want to come in second."
B.J. Ryan: "I wanted to be in control. I didn't want the market to dictate where I was going to play. That's one thing we really talked about and before everything was said and done I kind of had my way and I picked Toronto, then everything got figured out financially."
Ricciardi on this signing in the big picture: "For us, we want people to come to Toronto because they want to play here. ... What we sold to B.J. was the fact that we have a good family atmostphere here, we want to win, we have commitment from ownership to win, and we are going to win. ... You have to remember that Paul Molitor and Jack Morris and some great free agents chose Toronto at one time. Maybe this is the start of a bunch of guys following them."
One more from Ricciardi, who had nothing new to say about prospective free agents A.J. Burnett and Brian Giles, or the status of incumbent closer Batista: "I think it's going to be an active off season for us, not only through the free agents but through the trade market too."