Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays in the bottom 3rd in MLB franchise value?

Dec 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays new general manager Ross Atkins (right) answers questions along with club president Mark Shapiro during an introductory media conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 4, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays new general manager Ross Atkins (right) answers questions along with club president Mark Shapiro during an introductory media conference at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /
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While many fans and pundits cry for the Blue Jays to spend like they are a major market team, the data released by Forbes.com may explain why they’re a little more reserved at times.

A colleague of mine, our own Jim Scott, recently pointed out an interesting article by Forbes.com, talking about the value of franchises across the MLB. Without clicking on the link, my initial guess was that the Blue Jays would be somewhere in the middle of the pack, and I settled on 14th as my prediction.

22nd?? That couldn’t be right. But there it was (from a very reputable source I might add), the Blue Jays were in the bottom 3rd of the 30 MLB franchises. Check out the hyperlink in the above paragraph to see for yourself.

Before I go too far, there are a couple things to consider here. First, it’s not entirely clear which year the data is from on this article. It says “2016 ranking” near the top of the page, which could mean it’s based on data from the 2016 season, or it could be from the 2015 season. I’ll admit, the Blue Jays position could have changed if it’s the latter, meaning this ranking isn’t accounting for the Jays strong 2016 showing. The Jays finished 3rd in attendance last year, seeing just shy of 3.4 million fans go through their gates. They were 8th at just shy of 2.8 million in 2015, and 17th with 2.375 million in 2014.

Even if we’re looking at 2015 data on the Forbes link, it helps illustrate the point either way. The Blue Jays finished 8th in attendance in the MLB, and yet finished 22nd in franchise value. If the data is from 2016, that’s even worse at 3rd-22nd. We’re also talking about a franchise that has an entire country worth of baseball worths to support it (yes, I’m aware that not everyone north of the border cheers for the Jays, but you get my point).

So why do fans think that Rogers is such a cheap owner? I could fill a novel with tweets I’ve found (some I most definitely can’t share with you here), but this one made me laugh out loud, so I chose it as the example. Thank you to @torontobaghead for the laughs.

The whole Edwin Encarnacion saga has been debated back and forth for months now, but I personally didn’t see it as example of the Blue Jays being unwilling to pay an elite free agent. I just shared the tweet because it’s hilarious.

Getting back on point though, the data at Forbes tells fans that perhaps we should be cutting ownership a bit more slack than is typically afforded them.

For every time you hear someone say, “But they’re Canada’s team! They have an entire country to draw revenue from!”, remember that “Canada’s team” also operates at the mercy of the Canadian dollar. As of Valentines day, that exchange rate was sitting at $0.7638, or $1.3093, depending on how you prefer to look at it.

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If math isn’t your strong suit, let me put it another way. In order for the Blue Jays to operate at a 100 million dollar payroll, they would need to spend just shy of 131 million in Canadian dollars. Of course, not every facet of their revenue is in Canadian dollars, but it remains a very relevant factor, nonetheless.

For all the griping, it’s not as if the Blue Jays are at the bottom of the barrel in payroll rankings either. They were ranked 8th in payroll, spending just over 160 million when the season was all said and done. As much as we’d all love to see the Jays spend like the Dodgers or Yankees, 160 million is nothing to sneeze at.

If I’m being honest, I’ve wondered aloud in the past why ownership wouldn’t pony up for a David Price or others at times too. However, just as I did back then, when I really examined the situation it made more sense to me. In Price’s case, his salary equated to both Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ being affordable for the rotation, and we all remember how that worked out.

Next: Blue Jays' Stroman wins arbitration case

My point is, after seeing this data I’m going to do my best to cut ownership a little more slack in the future. That doesn’t mean I won’t be among the legions of fans wanting to see the team add at the trade deadline, or next offseason, it just means I won’t threaten a boycott on the occasions when they don’t spend. Ownership has shown a greater willingness to spend over the last two seasons, both at the deadline and in the offseason.

Rogers may be a massive company, but the Blue Jays are just one division of that company. My guess is as long as the Blue Jays remain competitive and bring fans to the Rogers Centre, the payroll should be more than sufficient.

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