3. What’s the deal with payroll?
The next question on a lot of fans’ minds: Will the payroll decrease? Rumors have swirled around the organization that 2015 was the all-in season, and now it may be time to cut back the spending. So, if the team is unable to lock up pitching through trade, and payroll shrinks, it becomes highly improbable that a free agent of any consequence would be within the budget of Toronto. Again this is something that is very difficult to predict, but we can extrapolate from past action.
The 2014 Blue Jays had a payroll of approximately $136 million, while the 2015 Jays were approximately $138 million. The expected payroll that new President Mark Shapiro will be allowed to operate in 2016 with is said to be $140 million. Realistically that is little more than what it has been in the past two seasons considering the inflation of baseball salaries. After recently signing Marco Estrada to a two year contract the Jays are at this point committed to spending somewhere in the realm of $115 million. Teams must remember that payroll must also cover in-season moves, including replacing injured or ineffective players. Shapiro spent slightly more than $10 million while in-season during the 2015 campaign.
Given this data, the Jays speculatively have somewhere around $20-25 million left to use as they see fit over the offseason. There are always ways to make this work, but at this point the Jays could be seen making a splash on a pitcher such as Jordan Zimmerman who is reportedly searching for something in the realm of a fiev-year $100 million contract. Free agency is always a guessing game and in the case of the Blue Jays they have been hesitant to dish out large free agent contracts.
This past offseason Anthopoulos signed free agent Russel Martin to a five-year $82 million contract which was record breaking for the Blue Jays who are very reluctant to tie up large long-term sums in individual players. If the Jays are unable to fill holes through trades I would be surprised to see them hand out a long-term contract to a big-name player.