Blue Jays president Paul Beeston discusses payroll and contract limits


Making an appearance on Sportsnet 590’s Jeff Blair Show, Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Beeston discussed a number of issues with host Jeff Blair, including re-signing Melky Cabrera, the contract situations for general manager Alex Anthopoulos, manager John Gibbons, and even himself, and the arrival of natural grass at Rogers Centre.

More importantly, Beeston once again decided to talk about the payroll situation with the Blue Jays

Any self-respecting Blue Jays fan knows that payroll is a point of contention between ownership and the fans, and Blair did a good job of presenting that to Beeston, noting that fans have the conception that the team is limited in its payroll flexibility. That in turn has reflected in the team’s decisions last offseason, the Ervin Santana fiasco last spring, and of course at the trade deadline when Danny Valencia was the big win for the Blue Jays.

So what did Paul Beeston have to say about the very pointed question presented to him by Blair?

"“You know it is going higher next year. I can say unequivocally, and I have told Alex this, and I will use names (and I’m probably in trouble using names). For a Jon Lester or a David Price, and you want to go and pick up those contracts, I will flat out guarantee you that we will get the money from Rogers. However, if you aren’t prepared to do the deal, it’s not going to happen.” – Paul Beeston"

Now, to note that Alex Anthopoulos had the clearance to add either a Jon Lester or a David Price at the deadline says a lot, but it also notes that the Alex just didn’t have a deal in place that he felt comfortable with. That actually makes you feel a little bit better about the lack of deadline action, even if it does mean that Anthopoulos was hesitant to pull the trigger or was simply asked for too much in return.

On the other hand, Beeston at first skirts the payroll issue, simply noting that it is going up.That’s pretty much a given when you consider arbitration-eligible players, back-loaded salary  increases for the likes of Mark Buehrle and Jose Reyes (rising $6 million!), or even exercising existing options.

However, Beeston does try to clarify that a bit further, even if he does invoke the 5-year contract clause within the conversation.

"“We do believe in the term of the contract. People can take issues with it, but the 5-year deal is where we stand right now. But that won’t limit us from getting a ballplayer that X-number of dollars. If we can make the case next year to get someone that falls within those frameworks we have, I don’t have any problem thinking Rogers will give us the money.” – Paul Beeston"

So, there is a silver-lining, even if it has an escape clause of its own. The team is willing to add payroll to the roster, but the deal needs to be right and fit into the 5-year contract preference. While I’ll admit that there is something admirable to that philosophy, at least in terms of preventing your organization from being hamstrung by bad deals, no one likes to know that you’ll limit your market either, especially given the way the free agent signings have worked out in recent years.

That will automatically take out available free agents like Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and maybe even James Shields, all of which would be nice comfort items, but reality says the Blue Jays have needs elsewhere beyond starting pitching. However, a Pablo Sandoval could fall into that realm and fit a team need, while re-signing Melky Cabrera could certainly fall back into their hands under those terms as well, something that Beeston says the team certainly sees as feasible.

So, we get a little bit of clarity from Paul Beeston, but he was obviously guarded enough to not give enough rope to hang himself by. The proof will be in the pudding I guess.