The Blue Jays have been one of the busier teams in a relatively slow free agent season so far this offseason. They re-signed Marco Estrada, traded for Jesse Chavez and signed J.A. Happ. All of this has affected the team’s payroll for 2016 and beyond. But by how much, and what are the implications for the remainder of the offseason?
To date, the Jays have seven signed contracts for 2016 totalling $92.5 million. In addition, they have ten players eligible for arbitration (in the table above, I use the projected arb awards from MLBTR). They will have eight pre-arb players (to complete the 25 man roster) and they owe an aggregate of $1.6 million to Maicer Izturis and Ricky Romero. This brings their total 2016 payroll to roughly $136 million.
The total budget for 2016 has been guesstimated at $140-145 million. If these estimates are correct, the Jays would have about $4-9 million left. Enough to sign one middle reliever (Joe Blanton?) and have a few million in reserve for mid-season injury acquisitions.
Where could the Jays save?
Suppose that the Jays wanted to sign one more free agent. A Mike Leake or Wei-Yin Chen or Scott Kazmir, perhaps, or maybe even a Jason Heyward? Or what if a team like Cleveland offered a Carrasco – but only if the Jays would pick up an albatross contract like Chris Johnson? What could the Jays do to free up the funds?
Ben Revere is projected to make $6.7 million in arbitration. The Jays could non-tender him (unlikely) or keep him to trade to a team looking for a centre fielder / leadoff man. It is unfortunate for the Jays that the Mariners traded for Leonys Martin, or that might have been a good fit. Trading Revere for (say) an inexpensive relief pitcher would reduce the Jays’ payroll by $6 million.
Dickey and Thole
With the starting pitchers that they Jays have acquired this offseason, the rotation is deeper than it has been in many years. This would make it possible to trade R.A. Dickey (and his Siamese twin, Josh Thole). This would free up almost $14 million, less the salary of the players acquired in return.
Prior to the injury to Devon Travis, the Jays might have contemplated a trade of Tulo, ideally for ace-potential starting pitching. But with that injury, the Jays infield is once again thin. While Ryan Goins could in theory play SS, there would be no obvious answer to who would play at 2B. So even though a Tulo trade would free up $20 million, it is highly unlikely at this time.
The bottom line?
If the Jays traded/released Smoak/Delabar/Revere/Dickey/Thole, they would potentially free up about $23 million. Added to the $4-9 million currently remaining, that would leave Toronto with $27-32 million to play with. Of course, some of that would have to be spent on a backup catcher (Dioner Navarro!) and possibly on some bullpen help. But there could be ~$20 million left to spend on one more big splash.