The Blue Jays continue to thrill fans with meaningful baseball in September. Now in year four of their current competitive window, with stars like Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Jose Berríos and Kevin Gausman in their prime, ownership has been supportive with a top five luxury tax payroll for 2023.
According to Spotrac, Toronto’s competitive balance (luxury) tax payroll sits at $254.2 million this season, a level that will trigger an additional $4 million luxury tax. That’s the 5th highest amount in MLB, and a record for any Blue Jays team in history.
That payroll commitment has been rewarded by a team in the thick of the postseason conversation; the Jays are tied with Seattle for the third and final AL wild card, trailing Texas by half a game after the Rangers beat Toronto 10-4 and 6-3 in the first two games of their four game series. Texas earned the wild card tiebreaker over Toronto with their win Tuesday, now leading the season series 4-1. The Mariners also hold the wild card tiebreaker over the Jays by virtue of a better intra-division record.
That’s certainly better than three of the teams above them in the payroll ranking, with both New York teams and the Padres out of playoff contention. However, if the season ended today, Seattlewould be the sixth seed in the American League, and the Jays would miss the playoffs due to the above mentioned tiebreaker.
While there is lots of baseball still to come, the front office will also be looking at what the 2024 team might look like, as well as trying to understand what sort of payroll levels will be needed to keep fielding a competitive ball club.
Current projected 2024 Blue Jays payroll
As things stand today using Spotrac data, the Jays are committed to $124.6 million in guaranteed salaries for 2024. That assumes they will decline the $18 million mutual option on Whit Merrifield, and instead buyout his contract for $500,000. It also assumes that they will excercise their $9 million club option on reliever Chad Green, and that Yimi García’s $6 million contract is guaranteed for 2024.
That obviously does not include any of the arbitration eligible players except for Bichette, who has already agreed to an $11.2 million AAV contract for 2024 as part of his 3-year, $33.6 million deal that will see him through to free agency after the 2025 season.
And it assumes that pending free agents Hyun Jin Ryu, Matt Chapman, Jay Jackson, Brandon Belt, Kevin Kiermaier, Whit Merrifield and Jordan Hicks will all test the open market. Those players combined will make about $58 million in 2023. Of course, some of them could resign with Toronto in the offseason.