The Blue Jays dump B.J. Ryan

J.P. has a quick hook. You can say a lot of things about Ricciardi’s tenure as the Blue Jay’s GM, but you have to say this: The man is willing to swallow his pride and admit when he’s wrong. But wasn’t this a bit premature? The Jays will take a real bath here, eating $15 million of B.J. Ryan‘s salary. Combine that with last year’s dump of Frank Thomas, and you have twenty-five million bucks worth of break-ups the past two seasons.

Ryan, as most of you may remember, was signed to a big 5-year, $47 million dollar contract in November of 2005. Year one of his contract looked promising — Ryan saved 38 in 42 attempts, posted a FIP of 2.14 and was worth three wins above replacement as Toronto’s closer in 2006. Unfortunately, the wheels came off quickly from there. Back pain somehow turned into Tommy John surgery, (read: the team lied to the media) and Ryan has not been the same pitcher since. While he was able to save 32 games in 36 tries last season, his stuff never returned. His fastball and his slider have dropped about 4 miles per hour and his slider has flattened out. The results have not been pretty:


Still, it’s surprising that the Blue Jays were so quick to show him the door. Ryan had complained to the press about a lack of playing time but (allegedly) refused any minor league assignment after the team placed him on the disabled list with tightness in his shoulder. Releasing Ryan was probably about the only way to make him semi-attractive to other teams who may be interested in taking a flier, so in that sense it may have been the right thing to do. Right now he looks more like a long-shot LOOGY than anything else, as he has shown he still at least has some ability to miss left-handed bats.


According to Ryan’s win values, he only “earned” $12 mil of that $47 million dollar contract, good for a $35 million dollar toilet flush.

Ryan seems to be a rarity in that Tommy John surgery hasn’t really seemed to take. Signing a 30-year old closer to a big, five-year deal hardly seems like a good idea to me, but at the time the deal wasn’t universally pilloried, and the Blue Jays were bumping salary in order to compete with the big two. The reign of Ricciardi has been a bumpy ride, and if I’m a Blue Jay fan I’m a little worried about him finding a way to screw up the Halladay trade negotiations.

As for Ryan, I’d imagine he’ll latch on somewhere, reportedly Florida has some interest. Whether he ever regains his form seems rather doubtful at the moment, but some team will give him a shot.

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Erik Manning is the founder of Future Redbirds and covers the Cardinals for Heater Magazine. You can get more of his analysis and rantings in bite-sized bits by following him on twitter.

13 Responses to “The Blue Jays dump B.J. Ryan”

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  1. Wrighteous says:


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  2. mymrbig says:

    It is a little amazing that Ricciardi is still employed when you look at some of the contracts he has given out.

    BJ Ryan: 5 years, $47 million free agent
    Frank Thomas: 2 years, $18.12 million free agent
    Vernon Wells: 7 years, $126 million extension

    Ryan and Thomas were two pretty big flops. Both were well criticized, even if not univerally so (Thomas really only deserved a 1 year contract, maybe with a vesting option, Ryan’s contract was crazy both on a per year basis and for the number of years). And Ricciardi paid for the 2006 version of Vernon Wells when he hadn’t been that guy for a couple years at the time he was extended. That is three pretty sizeable screw-ups, and it isn’t like he’s made up for it with some mind-blowing free agent signings, drafts, or trades. Everything else is fairly mediocre.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Thomas outperformed the first year of his contract. In the second year he fell off the table, but I don’t know if that’s something you kill JP on. You’re also misinformed on the Wells contract. It didn’t kick in until ’08, but according to Cots’ Baseball Contracts, it was signed in December ’06, coming off a nearly +6 WAR season when he was 27. The extension covered his Age 29-35 seasons, and while there would be diminishing marginal returns at the end of it, there was no reason to expect he wouldn’t still be in his prime during the first half of it. Your accounting is revisionist history.

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      • mymrbig says:

        Good point on Wells, for some reason I thought he signed after the 2007 season or early during the 2008 season. Still a bad contract, but Wells was coming off a very good season when he signed it. The contract was probably still excessive and a bit of an overpayment, but it wasn’t a Zito-, Dreifort-, or Pierre-like mistake from the moment it was signed. My bad.

        The Thomas contract was still a mistake (and I say this as a huge Frank Thomas fan, he is one of my favorite players ever). The problem wasn’t that Frank outperformed the first year of the contract (talk about revisionist history, ignoring the fact that the contract was back-loaded and that he was horrible in the 2nd year of the contract). The real problems is that there were no indications that anyone else was offering Thomas even close to the same deal he received from the Blue Jays. Ricciardi bid against himself for Thomas’s services both for the annual salary and for the number of years. I mean, heading into 2007 Thomas was a 39-year-old DH with a history of foot and leg problems who earned only $500,000 the year before because no one trusted his health. All of a sudden he’s worthy of a 2-year deal? At $9 million per year? Me thinks not.

        At least I didn’t throw Rios into my comment:-)

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      • Kevin S. says:

        Thomas was coming off a $500,000 contract because it was a “make-good” contract. He made good.

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      • mymrbig says:

        Ricciardi gave Wells basically the same contract that was given to Carlos Beltran, but Beltran had established himself as basically being 1-2 WAR better per season then Wells. And Wells was still under team control for one more season when he signed, whereas Beltran was a pure free agent. The Blue Jays shouldn’t have given him Beltran-money and they should have gotten a little discount. So it wasn’t a good contract when it was signed. It wasn’t a terrible contract at the time, that was definitely some revisionist history on my part. But it was a below-average to poor contract that basically left very little chance of the Blue Jays making any sort of profit.

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      • jw says:

        Whether this is true or not a common belief is that Wells was shoved down Riccardi’s throat. He wanted to trade Vernon, but (former Blue Jays President Paul) Godfrey insisted on a big extension – with the idea that Wells’ salary was about having a franchise player and the salary would not be reflected in the team’s overall payroll. Essentially it was a statement, albeit a dumb one, that the Jays had the money to hold on to their young stars. It was marketing. It completely failed.

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  3. Steve C says:

    How do the insurance policies teams can get on players apply here? If at all.

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  4. Trev says:

    I know that if Ryan signs with another team for this year, the Blue Jays don’t have to cover that portion of the salary he is due:

    2009: Ryan due $4.5 million remaining, Team X pays $200k, Jays pay $4.3 million

    Does this apply for 2010 as well?

    2010: Ryan due $9 million, Team X pays $1 million, Jays pay $8 million (or $9 million?)

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    • Scott Batura says:

      That is true, but in reality, no team pays over league minimum in this situation because it doesn’t benefit the player in any way- he’ll get his $9M next year, no more no less, with the Jays paying $9M – league min.

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    • mattymatty says:

      If Ryan passes through waivers, which he will, then the Blue Jays will be on the hook for all remaining portions of his contract other than a pro-rated major league minimum deal. In effect, they’re simply saying they’d rather have the open roster spot cause they’re on the hook anyway.

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  5. jw says:

    If you had watched him this past year, you would not be surprised that the Jays showed him the door. An intense pitcher used to extremely high leverage situations being relegated to being the seventh man, who can only go one inning and can’t even do that effectively, who has a 7+ FIP this year, who has lost velocity and movement on both his fastball and slider, and who seems to be becoming a clubhouse cancer. It’s a wonder it took this long to release him.

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