The Toronto Blue Jays are riding a pretty good streak right now and currently find themselves in a playoff spot via the AL Wild Card. While the month of August was rough for fans to watch, the Blue Jays have been phenomenal in September and there is a hope that the Jays will return to play postseason baseball once again this season.
While the season right now is exciting to watch, looking ahead at the upcoming off-season, there are a few more things that Blue Jays fans are going to be happy to see.
As of right now, the club has just under $65 million dollars tied up into four players: George Springer ($29.6 MM), Hyun Jin Ryu ($20 MM), Randal Grichuk ($10.3 MM), and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (4.92 MM). While Springer’s value may seem enormous given his contract, because of the young players currently not impacting the payroll with their years of control, the deal was structured to be more front-loaded and Springer will earn less starting in 2023 when it drops to just over $24 million (when Vlad and Bo will be making more money in arbitration), which isn’t huge but still creates $4 million in extra money available per season.
There is a multitude of players that will still be in the pre-arbitration stage like Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, Alejandro Kirk, and Jordan Romano who will make the league minimum while there are some who are at different stages of arbitration and in line for decent raises:
Arb 1: Ryan Borucki, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Danny Jansen, and Trevor Richards
Arb 2: Teoscar Hernandez, Tim Mayza, and Adam Cimber
Arb 3: Jose Berrios, A.J. Cole, and Ross Stripling
The 2021 off-season brings a plethora of opportunities for the Blue Jays front office with money coming off the books from released players.
While these players (if all tendered offers) will be making more money like Guerrero Jr., Jansen, Hernandez, and Berrios, overall, the Blue Jays sit in a pretty comfortable position as they head into the off-season when it comes to committed payroll.
Another reason this off-season is exciting for the Blue Jays is that a significant amount of salary is coming off the books, whether it be bad contracts or money owed to released players. These contracts include (as well as numerous players under $1 million not listed):
Tanner Roark – $12 million
Troy Tulowitzki – $4 million
Shun Yamaguchi – $3.75 million
Tyler Chatwood – $3 million
Roark, Yamaguchi, and Chatwood were all DFA’d, meaning the Blue Jays are on the hook for the entirety of the deal while Tulo’s contract is a result of the deal he signed with the Rockies that the Jays are finally clearing from their pocketbooks after a few years of his name on the list yet not being a member of the club.
Factor in that a few players may not return next season like Steven Matz, Corey Dickerson, Joakim Soria, Marcus Semien, and Robbie Ray, and the Blue Jays should have some cash to play with for free-agent talent or possible extensions for some of their younger players.
Why does this matter?
Well, if the Blue Jays wish to re-sign Semien and Ray as fans are hoping they do, they should have significant capital to play with if they choose to try and bring them back to Toronto. Mind you, the deal has to make sense and the competition for their services mixed with their incredible performances in 2021 will drive up their value, but there should be no reason the payroll/salary of the ballclub should hinder bringing back either player even with the well earned raises.
Even if the Blue Jays do bring back both, one, or neither, the leftover money could be used for other free agents in a year that is boasting a deep class in talent like Javier Baez, Freddie Freeman, Corey Seager, Trevor Story, and Max Scherzer among a host of others. I feel like the fanbase wants to see Semien and Ray return compared to everyone mentioned above but baseball is a business and sometimes good players leave whether it be personal reasons or more money.
The 2021/2022 off-season is presenting a multitude of opportunities for the Blue Jays when it comes to the amount of money the front office should have to play with for contract extensions or retaining star players if they so choose.