Last year, when news broke that the Blue Jays had signed Gavin Floyd, I was incredulous. “Gavin Floyd?!? Gavin Floyd!?! WHO THE HELL IS GAVIN FLOYD!?!”, shouted angry 2016 Dave.
Gavin Floyd was being considered for a spot in the starting rotation, and with a rotation that at the time consisted of R.A. Dickey, J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada and Marcus Stroman, Gavin Floyd did not seem like the answer to the hole in the rotation.
I wasn’t wrong about Gavin Floyd; he wasn’t the answer the Blue Jays needed. That was Aaron Sanchez. But in Gavin Floyd the Blue Jays got a guy that was actually quite the bargain, and served as a useful stopgap until the Jays got better bullpen arms (thank you very much, Jason Grilli and Joaquin Benoit). While the Franklin Morales signing was an unmitigated disaster for the Blue Jays, Gavin Floyd’s signing was not.
Worth the price?
Gavin Floyd’s 2016 record of 2-4 didn’t look great, but his fWAR of 0.3 contributed was worth roughly 8% of the Blue Jays’ bullpen cumulative fWAR of 3.8. And if you consider that Floyd’s 31 total innings pitched in 2016 only accounted for 6.7% of the 464 total innings pitched by the Blue Jays bullpen, Floyd was a positive contributor when he was healthy.
Floyd’s salary in 2016 was only $1 million dollars; FanGraphs estimates his value, based on production, to have been $2 million. According to Jon Heyman, Floyd’s contract also included performance bonuses (or what I’ll call durability bonuses) of up to an additional $1 million for staying on the active roster.
He was placed on the 15-day DL on June 26th, and later transferred to the 60-day DL with a torn lat muscle in his right shoulder. He was on the 25-man active roster only 83 days, missing out on his performance bonus by 7 days; unfortunately for Gavin, his lat cost him $500,000.
However, even if he had reached 90 days, or had reached all of his bonuses and contributed no more value, Gavin Floyd would have been worth exactly what the Blue Jays paid for him.
The Problem with Gavin Floyd is…
I don’t really know, actually. I don’t quite understand the dislike that Jays fans have for him. He was perfectly serviceable. His 4.06 ERA last year was fine, and looks even better when you consider his FIP of 3.95 and ERA+ of 107. His WHIP of 1.000 was quite good, and his K/9 of 8.7 really demonstrated his ability to get players out when needed.
So why the hate?
Maybe it’s because Gavin Floyd represents a very unsexy option. He’s certainly not the big name that Blue Jays fans have been hoping for to add some depth to the bullpen. But that’s the point, though; Gavin Floyd is depth. The Jays signed him to a minor-league deal for the 2017 season, with an invitation to Spring Training, which means the risk is even lower this year than it was last year.
This year, (again, per Jon Heyman), the Jays will pay him $1 million if he makes the big-league roster. If Gavin can give the Blue Jays the same level of production this year as he did last year, this will look like a very smart signing. And if he’s half as productive this year as last, he’ll still be worth the money.
Memory is a funny thing
I’ll admit that I don’t really remember Gavin Floyd being very good, good, average, serviceable, or below average. I remember him being pretty bad, but the all his stats say he was, by all accounts, pretty decent. So why is that?
Here’s Gavin’s 2016 spray chart on balls in play:
Nothing is standing out; he only gave up four home runs. His HR/9 last year was only 1.2, so it’s not like he was bleeding home runs. I think, maybe, our answer lies in the circumstances surrounding those four home runs.
Next:Walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th to Drew Stubbs of the Texas Rangers on May 14th.
Again:3-run home run to Eduardo Nunez of the Twins in the bottom of the 8th, in a 2-2 ballgame on May 21. The Jays would lose 5-3; Floyd’s inherited runner from J.A. Happ would make Happ the pitcher of record.
Finally:Solo home run to David Ortiz in the top of the 9th, with the game tied 8-8 on May 21. Luckily for Floyd, the Blue Jays would rally in the bottom of the 9th to score two runs off Craig Kimbrel and win the game 10-9.
So maybe that’s it; maybe your more vivid memories of Gavin Floyd are of him giving up the lead by way of home runs at crucial points in the game. It’s actually perfectly understandable that those would be the things you remember about him. But that means you’re not remembering when he was a pretty damn good pitcher; as an example, between April 8th and May 11th, he struck out 15 batters, with a 0.60 ERA, .122 average and .218 OBP allowed over 15 innings.
Pitching in relief isn’t easy; and the Blue Jays bullpen is in better shape now than it was at the start of the 2016 season. Hopefully in 2017, Gavin Floyd (if he makes the roster at all) won’t be given the same amount of high-leverage innings (or any high-leverage innings at all).