Blue Jays: The $140M Payroll and Zack Greinke


It’s a salary spending number that hasn’t been reached in Toronto, but there is talk that Rogers has approved a budget of “at least” $140 million to begin the season. My response: I certainly hope so, because fielding a half decent pitching staff without that is almost impossible.

First, let’s take a look at what that increase in funds means for the Blue Jays and let’s call it $140 to $145m just to be fair to the “at least” portion. Here are the last 4 seasons (as per Cot’s) of salary expenditures for the Jays (beginning of year and end of year – no end year figure yet for 2015).

Using the beginning of the year figures, we can see that Rogers has already allowed significant increases, and is about to allow one that almost doubles their investment in the team over a 4 year period. I know many of us like to criticize Rogers for the lack of investment in the team, but if true, this increase would be an encouraging sign that should result in a continued competitive and solidly funded team.

So what would that $140m or $145m get the Blue Jays for the 2016 season? Here are the projected figures as we know or project them today:



3. LEAGUE MINIMUM SALARIES ect.. Approx. $5m 


(recently amended)


  • Ceiling of $145m: $35.46m
  • Ceiling of $140m: $30.46m

And yet, the Blue Jays are still rumoured, and I stress the rumoured part, to be interested in a pitcher (either Price or Greinke) expected to haul in about $30m per season?

TSN’s Rick Westhead recently ran a feature that spoke about the Jays interest in Zack Greinke entitled “Blue Jays weighing contract offer to Greinke“. Well, I’m pretty certain the Jays are weighing contracts to many players, but I certainly can’t see it unless they decide to leave the rest of the team as it is. The reasons stated for the level of comfort across MLB being higher for Greinke than Price includes the following:

More from Jays Journal

“A couple things worry me about David Price,” Phillips explained. “He recoils in his delivery. Instead of following through with his arm after he throws the ball, he stops and pulls the arm back. That’s deceleration and that’s where injuries can take place.” “Also, if his velocity drops, Price will need high quality secondary pitches and he really doesn’t have those,” Phillips said. “Greinke has quality secondary stuff and I think he’ll be better later in his career than Price.”

That sounds about right in my books, so let’s consider Greinke the target. At 33 years old, what are the Jays – and others – willing to offer the likely Cy Young winner? Sadly, there are no real comparable contracts that were recently agreed to because those who did sign we of different age and/or not of the same calibre. What we do know is that the Nationals were willing to go as high as $30m per season for the best arm on the market last offseason when they signed Max Scherzer to a $210m deal.

What’s easiest to tell, however, is what Greinke himself is looking for in terms of dollars. He passed up $76m over the next 3 years to try to get himself more security with a longer contract at a similar or higher annual value. So that’s the floor for Greinke.

Let’s say he’s able to get and will sign in Toronto for $30m over 5 years for a total of $150m. Is that something the Blue Jays can afford? Is it something they want to afford? Not likely.

After all, we’re not talking about a clubhouse leader like David Price here, we’re talking about a guy who has serious social anxiety issues and although they’ve been resolved for the most part, he’s still an awkward guy overall.

I guess the best way to compare this expenditure is to see what we could get for $31m. Again, using MLBTR’s predictions, the Jays could afford the following:

What would you rather have onboard to improve the Jays in 2016, these 3 guys or Zack Greinke? The biggest difference here is obvious. It’s depth and a huge pen improvement vs a quality ace. You can substitute Cueto for Gallardo or Soria for O’Day, but the story remains the same. The Jays can either add one giant piece and hope for the best, or 3 to 4 smaller pieces and hope that’s enough to get further into the playoffs.

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

Another thought would be to add up to 3 pieces to the bullpen in hopes that the transition to the rotation for

Roberto Osuna


Aaron Sanchez

is a fruitful one. If the Jays were to add O’Day,

Antonio Bastardo

(3 years, $15m, AAV $5m), and

Joakim Soria

(3 years, $18m, AAV $6m), that adds up to $18.5m AAV for 2016 in improvements to the pen. Add in a starter at $10 to $12.5m (Estrada or Gallardo) and you’ve got a rebuilt pitching staff.

Then again, everything depends on what trades are also in the works, if any. Such trades can alter the salaries in a way that helps acquire more on the FA market. If the Jays decide to part ways with Troy Tulowitzki, for instance, they’d open up quite a bit of room. They may, after a deal or two, be able to afford Greinke at that point and could resolve their pen issues simultaneously. But to me, this opens up more holes that need to be filled thereafter unless the Jays are content with Devon Travis and Ryan Goins manning the middle of the infield.

At this point, nobody knows what to expect with Mark Shapiro leading the way. They’ve decided to make an investment in their interim GM and likely have many irons in the fire. They could lean towards the trade route, the free agent market route, or a combination of the two. But what I do know is that with the room Rogers has provided the Jays are unlikely to be able to afford Zack Greinke without making some trades.

Next: Keep Up to Date on Blue Jays Offseason with our Tracker!

Having just watched what a potent bullpen like the KC Royals enjoyed in 2015 can do, I know where I want the Jays to spend their dollars. The very same place I wanted them to spend it last offseason. In the place that gave them the most trouble all season and post-season.

Where do you stand?