I can confirm that the 2016 Blue Jays payroll will either decrease, increase, or stay the same compared to 2015. One of those would be true, I am sure. Although I loath to write about more payroll rumours it is better than certain other news that has come out recently so here goes.
There was some level of online outrage last week when Bob McCown reportedly (reportedly, as I do not listen to his show) mentioned on Prime Time Sports that the Blue Jays were going to be reducing their payroll "quite dramatically." The level of drama was quantified yesterday evening when he mentioned that it will be going down by "as much as 35%" which would, in McCown's flawed arithmetics, take the $135-million payroll down to $100 million. (Of course, 35% of $135,000,000 is $47,250,000 so a 35% reduction would be $87,750,000.)
I think we can throw away the $87.75 million number and probably can even disregard the $100 million figure. We calculated that even if the Blue Jays didn't sign a single free agent, non-tendered Ben Revere and Justin Smoak, and instead filled the rest of their bare roster with replacement-level players making minimum, they would still have a $100-million payroll. In order to reach this figure reported by McCown, the Blue Jays would instead have to dump significant salary, and would a team looking to do that have given Marco Estrada a $15.8 million qualifying offer, knowing that he cannot be traded until midseason? The big paycut theory just doesn't make sense.
Today, Shi Davidi contradicted his Sportsnet colleague by reporting on a radio segment that payroll would either be maintained or be increased "a little bit," which is consistent with the earliest report about the payroll from TSN's Rick Westhead, who pegged it at around the same as 2015.
Davidi on the Fan: "All the indications I've had are that the Jays are going to maintain their payroll, or maybe push forward a little bit."— BVH (@BVHJays) November 10, 2015
#bluejays expected to tell new prez Mark Shapiro next week his team will have payroll budget of $140M in '16: source. Roughly same as 2015— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) October 30, 2015
Later today, Westhead amended his previous report, saying that the Blue Jays will "begin [the] season with a budget" with a payroll at $140 million or above and that an increase "may" be approved "if situation merits," whatever that means.
New #BlueJays prez Shapiro and interim GM Lacava have been told by Rogers they will begin season with budget of at least $140M: source— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) November 10, 2015
Rogers has told Jays execs they may approve higher payroll than team had in 2015 if situation merits.— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) November 10, 2015
If I am interpreting Westhead's report correctly, he is saying that he has heard that the Blue Jays will have an Opening Day payroll of at least $140 million with possible extra cash moneys to be used for midseason acquisitions and injury replacements. That in itself would represent an increase in payroll compared to 2015 as the club started with a $125.9 million payroll, finishing at $138.3 million. Keeping with this assumption, the Blue Jays can add approximately $45.7 million this offseason, which is a decent amount for Mark Shapiro and Tony LaCava to work with. But even more important than the Opening Day payroll figure is the envelope Shapiro and LaCava were given by Rogers to spend in future years as that would drastically affect whether they would be able to sign certain free agents and whether how those contracts can be structured.
Hearing Blue Jays 2016 team payroll will be down from last year's total of $138 million US. #We'llNeverKnow4SureUntilJuly31— bob elliott (@elliottbaseball) November 11, 2015