Blue Jays’ Arbitration Standings: Who Got Paid and Who’s Left?

The Blue Jays had eight players eligible to file for arbitration on Friday. So which players are celebrating their new paychecks today?

While Canada’s attention was diverted on Friday to the Montreal Canadiens’ stunning acquisition of an all-star forward, the Blue Jays quietly began to play “Let’s Make a Deal” with their arbitration-eligible players. Eight men went into the board room to face off against Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins and try to pry as much money as they could out of the Blue Jays’ vault. Here’s a recap of who signed on the dotted line, and who will be heading to face the judge:

*All final salaries are quoted from sportsnet.ca. All pre-signing arbitration projections are quoted from mlbtraderumors.com

Steve Delabar

2016 salary: $835K Projected Arbitration Salary: $700K

A far cry from what an All-Star caliber bullpen arm was making on the free agent market. Delabar’s loss of control following his 2013 campaign led to a steep decline, culminating in a 5.22 ERA in 2015. He spent the past two seasons on the QEW Express between the Blue Jays and the Bison. With his options now gone, Spring Training is going to prove whether or not the Blue Jays feel like gambling on Delabar recapturing his form. If he can’t, offering him up to other teams as a cheap bullpen piece to get a younger arm becomes the likely path the front office takes with the 32-year-old former Independent League pitcher.

Michael Saunders

2016 salary: $2.9M Projected Arbitration Salary: $2.9M

Saunders settled right after Delabar, at the exact price MLBTR was quoting him at. It is the slightest of raises for the 29-year-old Canadian outfielder. From his 2015 salary, he earns $2,778 per game more for the nine games he played last year. Battling against Dalton Pompey in the spring will determine if the Blue Jays will get more value out of this year’s contract than his previous one. The fact that Ben Revere was expendable indicates there is faith he will justify his contract this time out.

Brett Cecil

2016 salary: $3.8M Projected Arbitration Salary: $3.4M

There wasn’t going to be a price that Blue Jays fans would have been upset with when it came to Goggles. His absence in the ALCS against the Royals was considered a major reason why Toronto couldn’t deliver the necessary late game outs they needed to win the series. So getting him at a discount price when compared to the contracts of John Axford and Mark Lowe? All for it. Cecil can have the stability of a known role and prove he’s just as effective. If at that point Cecil asks for Darren O’Day levels of cash, the Blue Jays should be happy for the opportunity to lock down a reliever with four straight years of sub 3.00 ERAs and 10+ K/9s. This price should look very good in October.

Drew Storen

2016 salary: $8.385M Projected Arbitration Salary: $8.8M

Just as important to the 2016 bullpen as Cecil is the newly acquired former National and the Blue Jays got a slight discount on his expected reward. Storen has to feel better now that he’s out of Washington, so that could have led to the more agreeable team salary. It is still a closer’s salary and that’s what Storen will be for the 2016 Blue Jays. A victory for the front office, and like Cecil, if the success is sustained, Storen will be worth the reinvestment in 2017 and beyond.

Aaron Loup

2016 salary: $1.05M Projected Arbitration Salary: $900K

If Cecil’s price tag was going to look good no matter the number, he has Loup to thank. Like Delabar, Loup had been good in 2013 for the Blue Jays bullpen. Two years later, and he has regressed into a poor man’s Jesse Orosco. John Gibbons couldn’t trust Loup to deliver the same kind of performances he got out of Cecil when he needed them, and the 28-year-old lefty has to settle for a million dollar “prove-it” contract. Loup will have to be an effective LOOGY to get any more than that in future off-seasons.

Drew Hutchison

2016 salary: $2.2M Projected Arbitration Salary: $2.6M

The final contract to be signed before the 1PM EST deadline resulted in the first blow struck in the battle for the fifth rotation spot (as long as Aaron Sanchez is still in the 2016 bullpen). Anything Drew can use to get ahead, because last season’s road struggles still resonates in the minds of Blue Jays fans. This year, there’s enough arms for the rotation that Hutchison can spend the season in Buffalo figuring out how to pitch in places not named RogerSkyDome (or some approximation there of). Giving back a projected $400K is a good start to earning some free starts. In the end, the ability to send Hutchison down to AAA may be his undoing, especially if it means that the Blue Jays can hold onto Delabar or Chad Jenkins instead. The ability to improve on that $2.2M will depend on being able to stick in the majors.

Jesse Chavez

Chavez’s Offer: $4M Blue Jays Offer: $3.6M Projected Arbitration Salary: $4.7M

The first of two cases that will head to a judge’s decision, Chavez is willing to settle for a below market price to settle in to the team and fight Hutchison for that rotation slot. The Blue Jays came in over a million dollars below his perceived value though, which begs the question of what they thought they were getting in the Liam Hendriks trade. Chavez’s base statistics took a dip in 2015, but that speaks more to the shoddy quality of the Athletics team behind him to any dips in velocity. $4M for a veteran fifth starter isn’t a bad price tag. There are teams that wish they could get away with that (like the Red Sox and Rick Porcello. That contract will always look bad.) However, the fact that this negotiation couldn’t come together over a difference of $400K is worrying. Not for Chavez’s future with the Blue Jays, but for the other Jay heading to arbitration…

Josh Donaldson

Donaldson’s Offer: $11.8M Blue Jays Offer: $11.35M Projected Arbitration Salary: $12M

What is it with former Oakland A’s wanting to take negotiations to the court?

Seriously though. This should not be happening again.

This is the second straight year that the Blue Jays and the Bringer of Rain have gone to arbitration (Blue Jays won the first round $4.3M to $5.75M). This is not a good look for a franchise to constantly be at odds with someone touted as the now and future face of said franchise. Especially over another paltry sum. $450K should not be a huge stumbling point when it comes to a reigning MVP. This is a sentiment shared by Canadian Baseball Network contributor Jamie Mountain, who agreed that Donaldson should be paid “Miguel Cabrera money.”

Whichever way the judge rules, Donaldson will still be making less than half the cash that the Tigers slugger makes in 2016. To risk alienating him over 1% of what Cabrera is earning is fool hardy. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi has a more thorough take on what this does to Donaldson’s relationship with the brass, but the main point should be self-evident to the Shapiro/Atkins tag team. Donaldson is a key part of this franchise, especially if Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are making their final runs with the team. Pay the man his due.

 

*FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: S Doyle

 

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A.J. Andrews

Andrews has been immersed in sports from a young age, since she could read Jr. Jays comics that filtered into the backwoods of Northern Nova Scotia. The Canadian has been blogging about sports since high school, writing on FOX Sports.com’s blogs , her independent Tailpipe Sports blog and Jays Journal prior to joining JFTC. The 30 year old has been with Jays From the Couch since its humble beginnings, and continues to contribute while forging a career in the sports journalism industry. She brings a discerning eye, a smoking keyboard, and a brain that made Jeopardy! briefly rethink letting Canadians onto their program. She will talk about all sports, most Nintendo games, and trans issues for way too long if you give her an opening.