Blue Jays: Who is the most overpaid and underpaid player on the roster?

Graeme Wallace
Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays
Toronto Blue Jays v Tampa Bay Rays / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

The Toronto Blue Jays, like most MLB teams, have some players who are playing beyond the value of their contracts and others who are attempting to live up to theirs.

The pay structure of Major League Baseball dictates that a player will be paid according to the rookie-wage scale based on where they were drafted with the minimum salary being $720,000 until they reach the arbitration stages of their respective careers. 

This format gives teams the upper hand at the onset of a young player’s career, getting maximum production for minimal pay, and offers lower-market clubs like the Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers a real chance to compete.

It also puts franchises at risk when it comes time to “back up the Brinks truck” and pay to either retain existing players or convince free agents to commit. Here are the Jays' most overpaid and underpaid players.

Most Overpaid Player – José Berríos

In late July 2021, the Blue Jays were floundering. Just a few games above .500, there were questions as to how involved they would be as the trade deadlines approached.

The team had been linked to José Berríos for months at that point and they eventually pulled the trigger on a deal that would bring in the then-27-year-old hurler in exchange for a pair of top prospects, Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson. 

Berríos fared reasonably well in his dozen starts in blue, going 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP down the stretch. After surrendering that steep price to acquire “The Machine”, the front office doubled down on that investment and signed him to a seven-year, $131M extension.

But last year the wheels fell off and Berríos slumped to a 5.23 ERA while leading the American League in hits and runs allowed.  The Jays paid Berríos an average of $584,375 per start and he was one of the worst starting pitchers in the majors. Here's to hoping he is able to rebound in 2023.

Most Underpaid Player – Alek Manoah

On the other hand, Alek Manoah is still in the pre-arbitration stage of his career. In 2022, his first complete season, he put gaudy numbers across the board and was a Cy Young award finalist.

He went 16-7, with a 2.24 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and amassed a 5.9 WAR over 31 starts. For the 2022 season, Manoah made $730,000, so in contrast to Berríos, the Jays paid the former West Virginia standout $23,548 per start and he was one of the most effective pitchers in the big leagues. His salary for 2023 is yet to be determined.

Obviously, the Jays hold the cards for now, but therein lies some of the risk when negotiating with a young accomplished player. The team can do nothing and wait until Manoah becomes eligible for arbitration in 2025, but his value could skyrocket by then.

The alternative is to offer him a bridge extension that has become popular recently, taking care of his arbitration years and perhaps extending into the first year or two of his upcoming free agency. Some young stars are eager to sign these kinds of contracts, others are more interested in exploring the open market. Either way, it would be prudent for the Blue Jays to make an effort to keep the young flamethrower in the fold for the long term.  

Next. Blue Jays sign catcher Jamie Ritchie to minor league deal. dark