Team Friendly Contracts Very Friendly
Aug 17, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion (10) is congratulated by third base coach Brian Butter field (55) after hitting a 2-run home run in the first inning against the Texas Rangers at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Rangers 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY SportsBack in the day on November 12, 2012 the Toronto Blue Jays were still considered a mediocre medium market team. For many years people had been saying that the Blue Jays were a sleeping giant. The Jays were a team on the rise and with the help of one the richest ownership groups and a stacked farm system it was just a matter of time before they put those things into good use.
I’d like to be able to say the rest is history but we haven’t seen them play a game yet.
Those aren’t the only two huge factors that helped the Jays do all they did this offseason.
It doesn’t get mentioned enough but one of the reasons the Blue Jays were able to take on so much payroll this offseason is because they have so many team friendly contracts.
In 2013 the Blue Jays were going to be paying Bautista, Encarnacion, Morrow, Ricky and Lind combined a little over 42 million. To put that discount into perspective Mark Buehrle is going to make 39 million in the last 2 years of his contract.
Last season Brandon Morrow had 3 complete game shutouts and finished the season with a 2.96 ERA. It was Morrow’s first consistently dominant season. He’ll be 28 next season so there’s a possibility he could just be coming into his prime. If Morrow can be the ace Blue Jays fans have waiting for he’ll be a steal with his guaranteed 2 year 16 million contract with a 10 million dollar option for 2015. The Blue Jays did sign Morrow when he was somewhat unproven so it wasn’t a steal at the time but could definitely end up being a team friendly contract compared to most ace pitchers making 15-25 million a season.
In a world where there are relievers making 13-15 million dollars a year the Toronto Blue Jays are paying Jose Bautista14 million in 2013 and Encarnacion 8 million.
Edwin was poised to be a free agent this offseason but the Jays locked him up in the middle of the season to a 3 year 27 mil extension with a 10 million dollar option for 2016. At this point Edwin is still a 1 year wonder but after he slugged 42 homeruns at the age of 29 last season teams would have been lining up to offer him 15+ mil a year at the very least.
There aren’t a lot of professions where an employee gets paid 14 million a year and you consider it a discount. That’s the case for the Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista. Most of the big boys are making 20+ million a year these days. All those impact bats like Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Vernon Wells, etc. (You think I’d bore you by listing so many of the players on the 20+ mill list without their being a joke at the end?). If you’re an Angels fan you can just pretend the Angels are giving Vernon Wells salary to Mike Trout and you probably won’t feel as bad.
It’s not just the core of the Blue Jays who have team friendly contracts either. This offseason the Jays gave the reigning NL CY Young Award winner R.A. Dickey a 3 year 30 million dollar contract with a 12 million option for 2016. They gave the 2012 NL batting champion and MVP candidate Melky Cabrera a 2 year 16 million dollar contract. Even if Dickey and Cabrera both end up doing nothing their contracts put a small dent in the Blue Jays payroll.
Even the 13 million the Blue Jays are giving Josh Johnson in 2013 could be seen as team friendly. As mentioned earlier most aces are making 15 -25 million a season now. You could also argue Johnson’s injury history makes a smaller salary seem about right.
When a player agrees to play for below market value it gives the team a lot more flexibility to make more moves as the Jays did this offseason and in the future. That’s why they call them team friendly contracts.