Can the Blue Jays Afford to Extend David Price?


It may seem crazy, here in the thick of a pennant race, to discuss 2016 and beyond.   But the next few years will be very interesting, both in terms of the quality of baseball we can expect and in terms of the budgetary decisions that the Blue Jays will face. Hopefully the David Price acquisition has finally put to rest the “Rogers is cheap” meme.  But how will the budget impact on decisions in the future, most notably the Jays’ ability to sign a premium starting pitcher (like Price!) in the 2015-16 offseason?

The chart which follows is my best guess as to what the next three years will look like (insert all the usual caveats about injuries, crystal balls, and opportunistic acquisitions here) in terms of contract payments.

Here are my assumptions:

Catcher – Russel Martin all the way.  Backed up by Thole in 2016 and Pentecost in 2017-18 

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

First Base – Smoak and Colabello at 1B in 2016, then Jose Bautista (having just signed an extension) moves to first in 2017-18

Second Base –  Devon Travis through 2018

Third Base – Who else?  Josh Donaldson is a Blue Jay!

Shortstop – Tulo remains at SS through 2018

Left Field – The Jays trade Revere in the 2015-16 offseason and run with Michael Saunders in left in 2016.  They then sign Michael to an extension and move him to right in 2017, when Jose moves to 1B.  At that point, Dalton Pompey moves from 4th OF into a full-time LF role.

Centre Field – Kevin Pillar grabs hold of the CF gig and doesn’t let go

Right Field – Jose in 2016.  He then resigns with the Jays, they move him to 1B, and Saunders moves to RF.

Designated Hitter – I assume that the Jays are unable to resign Edwin Encarnacion after 2016.  Starting in 2017, they move away from a single DH and instead use the slot to rest Tulo, Jose and Josh and to give Colabello ABs. 

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Note re starting pitchers:  I use the terms SP1, SP2 only to differentiate – they do not imply rotation positions

SP1 – Based on a strong finish to 2015 (!), the Jays pick up Dickey’s option for 2016.  Sanchez remains in the bullpen in 2016, and moves into the rotation in 2017 when Dickey leaves

SP2 – Welcome to the Stro Show

SP3 –  Hutch continues as the Dr. Watson to Stro’s Sherlock

SP4 – The Jays do not resign Estrada.  Instead, they spend the bucks to sign a high-quality free agent in the 2015-16 offseason.  Ideally a David Price (!!) but failing that possibly a Samardzija or Zimmerman or Cueto?

SP5 – The Jays make a qualifying offer to Mark Buehrle, but he declines.  Instead, the Jays move Osuna into the starting rotation in 2016.

The bottom line?  Even assuming that the Jays sign a free agent pitcher for $25 million per year, they would still have a total commitment of roughly $132 million in 2016.  This compares to a guesstimated budget of ~ $147 million.  So not only is a Price re-sign doable, but it even leaves room to maneuver in other areas.

Next: Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson: Early AL MVP?

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