So yesterday over at Getting Blanked, Parkes made the argument that it is a sound business decision to keep Brett Lawrie down in the minors until early April much like the Rays did with Evan Longoria to stretch out an extra year of arbitration. His justification was quite simple – keep him down for this time and if you eventually do sign him to a long term deal, you get to buy out one more year of arbitration rather than a year of free agency. As a result it could provide AA and Rogers perhaps upwards of $5M more to spend on the draft.
His reasoning went further that because of expanded September rosters, there is very little difference between AAA and the Majors. That in itself is quite flawed, especially for a team like the Jays. Consider that in September the Jays play 26 games, of which 22 are against playoff contending teams (you could make an exception for the Rays but its not like they are going to shut down David Price or James Shields). In those 22 games very few if any of them will be facing rosters that are not jammed full of starters trying to lock down a playoff spot. So that argument is kind of moot.
The other argument to be made is that it is far more than just 100 pa’s, its closer to 200 if you consider that the Jays could bring him up right now. Assuming he starts most games he would accumulate close to a third of a season of experience.
But here is where I think Parkes misses the real point you bring up Brett Lawrie now, and it is for the exact same reasoning he says you should keep him down – Money.
If the Jays and AA are to be believed that they hope to contend in 2012 – especially if there is an extra wildcard slot to be added, than the Jays need to field the best roster possible to compete in what will still be a crowded AL East. While many people are making the assumption that Lawrie will be the starter at third next year, they need to realize that there is a very good chance that he in fact won’t. Most prospects have growing pains adjusting to the big leagues. Brandon Belt, Anthony Rizzo and Mike Moustakas are perfect examples of guys that fall in the same category of ‘having proved their worth in AAA’ as Lawrie. But unlike the Jays, these three clubs at least have seen what their prospects are capable of so far and can balance their approach in the offseason accordingly (granted these three teams are terrible examples of that, maybe not the Giants).
AA needs to go into next season knowing that the team he puts on the field game in and game out has an excellent opportunity to compete for a playoff spot if that is in fact the goal. Not bringing up Lawrie now and seeing what he might be able to do means that the Jays should responsibly ensure that they have someone to play third on a regular basis via free agency. You simply can’t gamble that Lawrie will come up and succeed immediately if he hasn’t ever been called up. Calling him up now allows you to evaluate is talent in the majors and you can make a decision whether or not its necessary to spend money on a free agent or even whether you need pick up the option on Edwin’s contract.