I hope everyone is having a happy holiday season thus far. As we know, it has been pretty quiet in Blue Jays land lately but a few headlines over the past couple of days did grab my attention.
TSN’s Rick Westhead reported yesterday that the Blue Jays’ payroll will be set around $165M in 2017. This would represent an increase of about 20% from last year’s opening day payroll. I don’t know a lot about Westhead and his credibility as it relates to MLB. He doesn’t put a lot of stuff out about the Jays but last November he told us the Jays were in on Zack Grienke so I don’t know. He also told us of Jose Bautista’s 5-year, $150M request in the spring and recently told us that the Blue Jays were showing Edwin Encarnacion “the most love”. I personally haven’t seen anything of this writer’s that would lead me to conclude he has any insider knowledge, so I’ll take this with a grain of salt.
Supposing he is correct about this though, let’s look at where the Blue Jays are currently in terms of opening payroll. All of my payroll information is sourced from Spotrac which currently has the payroll reported at $127.6M. This includes a credit of $12.05M for Melvin Upton Jr as this portion of his salary will be paid by San Diego. Arbitration-eligible salaries have to be added to this figure for Darwin Barney, Aaron Loup, Ezequiel Carrera and Marcus Stroman. Using MLB Trade Rumor’s projections, this bumps the team’s payroll to $135.1M. Finally, I’ll add in the MLB minimum salary (I’m using $525K as an estimate) for players that I view as likely (or in some cases certainly) to be on next year’s team: Kevin Pillar, Ryan Goins, Aaron Sanchez, Roberto Osuna, Devon Travis, Joe Biagini, Ryan Tepera and Dalton Pompey. This gives an estimated team payroll of $139.3M as it currently stands.
If Westhead’s figure of $165M happens to be correct, it would leave the Blue Jays about $25M to fill their remaining holes of a corner outfielder (or two), backup catcher and some additional help in the bullpen. Quality options should be available to fill all of the gaps if we do in fact have that kind of budget. I personally need to see one of Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista back if these figures turn out to be accurate.
Speaking of Edwin, his agent (maybe soon to be former agent), Paul Kinser spoke with Jeff Blair yesterday, saying this:
Edwin Encarnacion's agent Paul Kinzer to @SNJeffBlair on @FAN590: "We've had multi-year offers from six different teams"— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) December 21, 2016
Considering the source I’m pretty skeptical but with the lack of details it could be true. I wouldn’t be surprised if a teams like the A’s jumped in with a low-ball two/three-year offer after observing how slow Edwin’s market has been. Over the past couple of days I’m reading a lot of rumors that have Texas and Cleveland as the teams that are currently pursuing Edwin the most aggressively. I’m hoping he goes to the NL if we can’t have him.
The whole Edwin situation is really disappointing to me. I’m obviously not privy to any of the discussions, but at this point I’d guess that the 4 year, $80M contract the Blue Jays reportedly offered early in free agency would sound great to both sides. Though I guess there is always a shred of hope, I don’t think Edwin is coming back to Toronto. I hope Morales produces for us because (a) I’m a Jays fan and want the team to succeed, and (b) I’m not looking forward to the backlash towards Morales if he underachieves at all. After all, all he did was sign a lucrative multi-year contract.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox opines that the only teams that regret an Encarnacion signing will be the teams that didn’t sign him. I agree with Ken here as it seems as though some team is going to get a bargain.