While the Blue Jays would love to add George Springer to their lineup, they’re going to have to increase their free agent bid to get it done.
According to a report by Andy Martino of SNY, the Blue Jays offer to George Springer is about 5 years, $115MM while the Mets offer is “somewhat less than” five years and $150MM. Despite a much less competitive bid, the Jays have a major payroll advantage over the Mets and could flexibly up their offer if they wanted to. After the recent Lindor/Carrasco acquisition, the Mets are sitting at about $190MM in payroll versus the Jays $85MM-$90MM. Something to make note of: the luxury tax threshold is $210MM, which the Mets reportedly intend to avoid surpassing. Either way, the Mets attractive offer could be structured in a way where Springer only gets around $20MM in 2021 so that they fall below the luxury tax threshold.
$35MM is a huge gap between offers. If this is what the Blue Jays call aggression, then it’s a little insulting to the Toronto faithful that they have gone out of their way to propagate their interest in every high end player on the open market. The Mets are a team with a way larger payroll commitment that just took on about $35MM from the Lindor and Carrasco trade, and yet the baseball grapevine still doesn’t favour the Blue Jays.
The Blue Jays need to step up their aggression. This club’s payroll has been in the $170MM range before, so when they need to spend, they spend (usually through trade acquisitions/extensions). The Blue Jays have more payroll flexibility and prospect depth than any of the big bidders of this offseason, so now is not the time to shy away.
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This is probably the first offseason ever where the Blue Jays have had more money to spend than pretty much any team in baseball. The Jays appear to be in a position to outbid teams like the Dodgers, Yankees and Mets, so now is the time to overpay players if need be. Payroll flexibility means nothing if you don’t use it and if you’re the Blue Jays, you need to start being more honest with yourself. Historically, free agents/trade acquisitions have not wanted to come to a Canadian team given all the logistical changes and high taxes in Canada (see Mark Buehrle). If the demand is lower for players to want to play here, then the Blue Jays will have to go outside their comfort zone and make offers that no other team will make.
After this upcoming season, young Blue Jay stars like Cavan Biggio and Bo Bichette are going to get handsome raises in the form of arbitration settlements. If the Blue Jays don’t start adding impact players to their payroll now, it will be much more difficult to do so in big quantity when the young core of Blue Jays become arbitration-eligible in their contracts.
In this particular offseason, the Blue Jays need to be logical and address the fact that marquee free agents probably don’t want to sign here, especially given the issue of not knowing where they will play in 2021. If the Jays want to be competitive in their pursuit of Springer, they better up their offer soon. New York is one of the most attractive free agent destinations in sports, so if the Jays want Springer, I sincerely believe they will have to go over the $150MM mark and spend around $160MM-$175MM.