Blue Jays: Selling Toronto to Potential Free Agents

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Brett Gardner
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Brett Gardner /

With the festive period coming and going quicker than a fastball, 2018 is here yet we find ourselves still waiting for the Hot Stove to heat up fully.

With just over a month to go before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training the Toronto Blue Jays still have some glaring needs to be addressed before February 14th. While the Blue Jays aren’t the only side to be moving slowly this off-season – there are several free agents still ‘unemployed’ – the front office did say they would be looking to add some pieces so we, as fans, are entitled to think that there should be some activity soon, right?

When trying to add pieces it’s easy to tell a free agent or potential trade candidate that you are looking to contend in the upcoming year. With 29 other teams offering a similar contending speech, what more can Toronto offer to potential targets to make them stand out from the crowd? (Yes, I’m talking to you Lorenzo Cain – come and be part of our outfield).

The city is as multicultural as it comes

There really is something for everyone. With nearly half of the city’s population being born outside of Toronto, there is a plethora of cultural hotspots dotted all over town that offer a real ‘something for everyone’. Not only does the influx of settlers make for a friendly and safe city, it brings year-round festivals, great nightlife and breath-taking cuisine; it’s hard to go hungry in ‘The Six’ when choosing between Chinese dumplings, Italian pasta, or a Greek salad. Couple these factors with the fact the city and surrounding suburbs are constantly growing – Toronto is now a bigger city by population than Chicago – why not come and join the hundreds of different ethnicities settled in the provincial capital?

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The city is sports mad – and successful

Many cities have more than one sporting franchise, but Toronto can boast competitive sides in each of the MLB, NBA and NHL, as well as a winning MLS and CFL side. Both the Toronto Raptors and Toronto Maple Leafs call the Air Canada Centre home, and both are on track to reach the playoffs once again this season. Toronto FC went one better than that last time around and won the MLS title in 2017, while the Toronto Argonauts won the CFL Grey Cup at the end of November. The city turns out to support their teams with success, as evidenced by the over 3 million people that walked through the doors of Rogers Centre in 2017 to watch a below .500 team.

Be part of a Canada’s team

One of the reason’s the Blue Jays achieve high attendance figures – other than their back to back ALCS appearances – is that they’re the only Major League Baseball team in Canada. Being a Blue Jay makes you part of something special; a whole country is supporting you, rather than just a state, or even just half of a city. Provided you try your best and say the right things, you’ll be adopted as ‘one of our own’ by the fans. If you hit a walk-off home-run and bat-flip against the Rangers then the world is your Oyster…

There is money to be made

The Blue Jays managed one of the top five payrolls in 2017, and at present Spotrac has the Jays spending below the league average. With players still to go through arbitration hearings – and some of those expected to see a substantial raise – it is expected that Toronto will still have somewhere between $25-$35MM to spend on filling the gaps if they are to match last year’s payroll. A number of this offseason’s free agent class are expected to earn near $20MM per year themselves, but for nearly all of them, even $12MM per year would be an increase on their annual salary; while below the rejected qualifying offer. A multi-year deal could be enough to get someone to sign in this market.

We have two World Series rings

It’s well documented that the glory years in Toronto were the back to back World Series wins in 1992 and 1993, and while we haven’t been back to the Fall Classic since, that’s still more titles than 10 Major League teams, including last year’s champions Houston Astros. Come and help us win another.

While I am sure the front office are doing everything they can to bring players North of the border, it is worth reminding people we have more than just a desire to contend. So, what do you say, Lorenzo Cain? Or Jake Arietta? Or Yu Darvish? Or anyone!

Next: Jays reportedly make an offer to Ji-Man Choi