Last month Alex Anthopoulos dropped a bombshell when he announced during the winter meetings that the Jays had “payroll parameters.”
It shouldn’t have been shocking news. Every team in baseball has a payroll limit, just as the resources of every business are finite.
It was disappointing for many Jays fans though, as many felt as though the club was poised to increase payroll into the 120 million + range that had been alluded to on numerous occasions by team president Paul Beeston. The timing was rough, as the big free agent signed elsewhere and the Jays failed to make a major splash.
Cue the predictable scorn of Jays nation against the seemingly unsympathetic corporate ownership.
Before coming to the conclusion that Rogers is “cheap,” let me remind you of some of the ways in which the Blue Jays have spent their financial resources since Alex Anthopoulos took over as general manager in October of 2009.
Roy Halladay trade:
The Jays sent $6 million dollars along with Roy Halladay to the Phillies in order to acquire prospects Kyle Drabek, Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Taylor. The cash kicker ensured the club received the prospects AA had his eye on.
Vernon Wells trade:
5 million bucks headed west to Anaheim in the Wells deal, allowing the Jays to free up the remaining 81 million left on VW’s deal. Oh, they also picked up Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera for good measure.
2010: $11.6 million (3rd most in MLB)
2011: $11 million (9th most)
Alex Anthopoulos dramatically changed the Blue Jays draft policy when he took over as GM. While his predecessor J.P Ricciardi was known for selecting polished college players, AA has been much more aggressive in picking up high-upside high school players. This philosophy required the club to go over slot many times, pushing their first year player draft spending over the 10 million dollar mark in both ’10 and ’11. The strategy involves more risk, but the payoffs can be much greater. The teams willingness to spend big on draft day has made the farm system one of the top 3 in baseball and the dividends will be evident as early as the 2012 season.
International free agents:
2010: $8 million
The big ticket international signings in 2010 were Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria ($4 mil. signing bonus, $10 mil total) and power righty Venesuelan Adony Cardona ($2.8 mil.).
The Jays signed 4 players in Baseball America’s top 40 international prospects: Roberto Osuna (4th), Wuilmer Becerra (5th), Jesus Gonzalez (21st) and Manuel Cordova (33rd). Most of the signing bonuses have not be made public, but it is safe to assume the Jays spending was in the vicinity of the $8 million spent in 2010. With the cap on int. signings imposed by the new CBA, the Jays were smart to use their financial resources to pick up some serious talent while the system was still open.
The Jays picked up Teahen’s 10 mil.+ price tag for the remainder of 2011 and 2012 last July in order to acquire Colby Rasmus.
Front office staff:
AA has “doubled spending on scouting and front office staff,” according to Bruce Arthur of the National Post. Again, the additional funding here has likely played a role in the transformation of the farm system from one of the worst in baseball, to one of the best.
The team president said today on the Fan 590 that Rogers has “never denied a request to increase payroll or to spend on player development,” reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of MLB trade rumors.
While the Blue Jays payroll will likely sit around the $80 million mark for 2012, fans should understand that the owners have spent a significant amount of money over the past two years in order to put the club on the right path. They may not have nabbed Fielder or Darvish, but their financial strength has allowed AA to bring in high-ceiling talent like d’Arnaud, Drabek, Rasmus, Daniel Norris and many others. The club has taken a calculated, prudent approach to building a team that is capable of having sustainable success, and this takes patience. I for one, would take this philosophy over the immediate gratification of massive free agent signings any day of the week, and twice on Sundays.