Toronto Blue Jays Roster: Is Ownership Still Cheap?


For years, we’ve been hearing that the Blue Jays have been operating under strict “payroll parameters”. Some would say that has crippled their ability to bring in player after player, year after year. This tight budget limited their ability to go after Masahiro Tanaka, Yu Darvish, as well as other, more known, free agents. The result has been a rather frustrated fan base that has set a default response of “Rogers Communications is cheap” to every waiver claim and minor league deal this club has made. Many have been screaming that until ownership forks over big time money (and gets rid of the silly “5 Year Policy), this club will forever spin its tires in the mud of mediocrity.

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Even tough, the Blue Jays are a “Top 10 payroll”, getting those expensive, marquee players has been a thorn in the side of Blue Jays fans. Rather than signing free agents, the club took the more financially responsible route of trading prospect talent for high end players. Josh Donaldson was added in the offseason under this approach. This July, we witnessed a massive assault on the rest of the league by the Blue Jays in trading for Troy Tulowitzki and David Price. That is not to mention Mark Lowe, Ben Revere and LaTroy Hawkins. The prospect capital lost was great. But, if it leads to winning, most of us can make our peace with it.

With all of these moves, though, what about the money that has changed hands? Top talent (even if it is brought in via trade) still costs top dollar. Craig Edwards at looked at the shifting of contracts at the July Trade Deadline. And, your Toronto Blue Jays took on the most money of any team in baseball! This is mostly due to the salary of Price and Tulo. They subtracted the 5th most too. This has to do with unloading the contract of Jose Reyes. What is the net gain? When the dust had settled, the Blue Jays actually ended up taking on 4th most at the Trade Deadline. I wanted to see just how this breaks down. I went to Cot’s at Baseball Prospectus to get salary info. 

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Here’s how it looks for 2015:
Price– The Blue Jays will be on the hook for ~$7.1M. He’s a free agent at the end of the season.
Tulo– The Blue Jays will pay ~$7.5M in 2015. They’ll pay him $107M over next 5 years.
Hawkins– The Blue Jays will pay ~$848K. He’ll retire at the end of the season.
Revere– The Blue Jays will not pay his salary. He has two years of arbitration remaining.
Lowe– The Blue Jays will pay ~$180K, according to He’ll be a free agent in 2016.

So, in total, the Blue Jays picked up $15.6M and lost the ~$8.3M remaining on Reyes’ 2015 salary. So, by my math, that is a $7.3M increase for this season. It is not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly is more than the paltry amount we feared they’d be working with in 2015.

Can we still say that Rogers is cheap? GM, Alex Anthopoulos would have some freedom to wheel and deal this July, to be sure. But, this kind of freedom? Surely, not on his own. No, if we’ve learned anything, ownership would need to be consulted. This is especially true with a $105M commitment like Tulo’s deal. So, why would they go along with it. Perhaps the prospects of selling tickets and merchandise is alluring.

The 2015 commitments can certainly be offset by the increase in sellout crowds that followed immediately after the deals took place. There will certainly be more sell out crowds to come. The merchandise, etc will also help. And, think about the money that will roll in if playoff baseball comes to Rogers Centre. All of this likely helped ease the financial worry ownsrship might have had.

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  • While the moves this July certainly speak to an increase in spending, they may not be enough to convince the most ardent Rogers bashers. No, a push in the off season, say to re-sign Price would help with that. And, for the first time in a long time, the Blue Jays might be in a position to do that. As Keegan Matheson already outlined, there are a number of players under team control for the next few years. The heavy lifting has done in that respect. So, there aren’t a great number of places to spend on.

    And, there are several contracts coming off the books that free up a substantial amount of money. Right now, Hawkins ($848K) and Lowe ($180K) look to be departing. Dioner Navarro ($5M) will likely be looking to start somewhere after taking a greatly reduced roll this season. Mark Buehrle ($19M) may retire. If he doesn’t, he’ll be looking at taking a significant pay cut. Of course, the Blue Jays could make him a qualifying offer. But, for right now, they’re looking at his money leaving.

    Marco Estrada ($3.9) is looking at heading into free agency. He’s having a good year and will seek a multi year deal with a higher AAV. The club will likely try to keep him, but there are no guarantees. So, I’m adding his money to the total coming off the books. Maicer Izturis ($3M minus $1M buyout = $2M) will not return. R.A. Dickey has a club option for 2016 at $12M ($1M buyout) that the Blue Jays could decline to pick up. So, at the least, they’ll pay him $1M. 

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    So, right now, that is a total of just under $43M coming off the books. Oh, and let’s not forget that the Blue Jays are still paying Ricky Romero $7.5M this year. That brings the total to ~$50M that the club will have to work with (all things being equal). Now, that is not all ear marked for David Price, of course. They will have to make decisions about the club options on Dickey, Jose Bautista ($14M, $1M buyout) and Edwin Encarnacion ($10M, $2M buyout). They will also need to figure out what the Buehrle situation is. So, it would be silly to say that all of these X’s subtracted from the pot equal one round, simple number. But, it does paint a general picture of what the Blue Jays are looking at heading into the off season.

    Whether Rogers Communications can shed that label of “cheap” (as ill founded as it is in the first place) remains to be seen. They’ll have to make some expensive decisions this winter. Picking up a total of $36M in options and a qualifying offer that could be north of $15M doesn’t exactly leave much room in the “money saved” pile for adding the monster contract that Price would require. And, we haven’t even talked about the arbitration cases that will raise payroll. Think Donaldson is in line for big pay day?

    So, while it is nice to see them pick up the tab this summer, the real test will take place over the winter. If ownership can get behind all of these moves and open up the wallet (even wider), perhaps then we can put an end to this “cheap” label and sit back and enjoy the benefits of an “all in” owner.

    Next: How Does Blue Jays Bench Compare to World Series Days?

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