Blue Jays’ Current and Potential Payroll Situation


Current payroll is difficult to guess with complete accuracy at this point in the offseason and the opening day payroll seems nearly impossible to guess at with any accuracy at all. But we’ll take a look at remaining payroll rumours in a bit. First, the current payroll. The following chart should cover all that is currently known. All data and figures were compiled from Baseball Reference, MLBTR and Cot’s Contracts. “Est. Arb” figures are MLBTR’s arbitration estimates. MLBTR is the best predictor of arbitration but those numbers are certainly not guaranteed.

Any of the pre-arbitration guys would earn around 500k (league minimum salary) if they played in the majors all year. Pre-arbitration 2 would get a bit more and pre-arbitration 3 a bit more still. Exact pre-arbitration figures are known only to Alex Anthopoulos at this point and pre-arb players must accept what they’re offered but the variance from league minimum is usually so minute that it’s barely worth mentioning.

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With 10 guaranteed contracts (the only sure figures) and 5 arbitration eligible players, that leaves 10 spots to be filled by pre-arb guys. The 10 pre-arb guys is where the 5.4m figure near the bottom comes from. 10 x league minimum salary (.5m) is 5m, plus a little extra for small raises makes around 5.4m. The buyouts and buried row is composed of Ricky Romero’s cash and Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan and Sergio Santos’ buyouts. The minor league salaries of the remaining 15 players on the 40 man roster are the ~1.22m figure. Guys on the 40 man playing in the minors make around 81k if they have major league service time or if it’s their second year on the 40 man. All of the Blue Jays in that category qualify under those two conditions. So 81k x 15 is 1.22m. Clear as mud?

The option column is a simple yes or no as to whether that player can be optioned (i.e whether he has one or more option years remaining) to the minor leagues and avoid waivers (yes, except for optional waivers in some cases technically but it’s never really utilized and so I don’t make the distinction in the chart) in 2015. I included options to show the amount of flexibility the Jays have to add major league players and who is at risk of being lost to waivers—which would of course effect the payroll.

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Now as for how much payroll is still available, only AA, Beeston and possibly only Rogers really knows. Overall, Rogers’ handling of the PR surrounding the potential payroll has been shoddy and irresponsible. If there’s more money available than last year, great; if there’s the same amount or less, okay fine but don’t lead the fan base on only to backtrack significantly later. Under-promise and over-deliver guys! Rogers’ resident spin doctor, Shi Davidi, seems to be privy to inside information and his prevarication on remaining payroll has been well documented over the off-season.

Next: John McDonald Retires

It began with Shi saying 140m on Sept. 28th, which Paul Beeston backed on the 3rd of October. Next Shi insinuated payroll could rise to 150m. A few weeks later Shi downgraded to 140m—which was fine. That was still a rise as promised. Then, at the conclusion of the winter meetings, something changed. Shi claimed there wasn’t as much payroll available as previously thought. Whoops! He proceeded to offer some baffling explanations. Suddenly the Jays were sending 3m to the Mariners and inexplicably counting potential 2016 expenses against 2015 payroll. Nice try. The backtracking continued with a Jan. 5th article “suspecting” that only 5-7m remained. The sad part is, he’s probably right. He is Rogers’ mouthpiece after all.

Assuming a 3m allowance for injury replacements and other unforeseeables that takes us up to 131.52m. If by 5-7 remaining, the Blue Jays mean 5-7 including the injury cushion (the problem is the Jays definition of what is “payroll” seems to continually shift), that takes things up to between 133.52m and 135.52m. If that is the case, that would basically make Rogers’ into liars. Hopefully by 5-7 remaining, they mean on top on the injury cushion. So 136.52m-138.52m (barely out of fibbing range).

(This is all not counting the fact that we might be giving 3.2m to a 15 year old kid on Jul 2…)

Shedding Dioner Navarro’s 5m would certainly help (10-12m more to spend minus what comes back in trade?). Other trades are always possible as well of course. Anyway, the real payroll eventually figures to be somewhere between 3m lower than last year to slightly higher—Unless you use Rogers’ wacky and zany accounting of course.