The Toronto Blue Jays have spent a lot of money in recent years, but rumours suggest they are not done, which is rather surprising
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The Toronto Blue Jays have put a lot of effort into improving their team in recent years, and in the process have spent some major dollars on big time talent. After shedding money in the years that followed the 2015/16 playoff years, Toronto’s payroll sat at $111M in 2019 and dropped all the way to $55M in 2020. Now, they are on their way to tripling that figure and rumours suggest they may not be done there.
We’ve heard that the Blue Jays were pursuing superstar shortstop, Corey Seager before he signed with the Texas Rangers for 10 yrs/$325M. This came as a bit of a surprise, given that they have committed a lot of money already this winter to extend Jose Berrios and then sign Kevin Gausman. This, on top of spending on George Springer and Hyun Jin Ryu before him. That also says nothing of the money spent on Marcus Semien as well. Even though the Semien deal doesn’t really have an impact on what the club does this offseason, it is worth mentioning in the context of the team’s payroll situation. They’ve spent a lot of money recently, so to hear they’re possibly going to spend even more seems unlikely.
But then Joel Sherman of the New York Post reminds us that the Blue Jays had interest in Freddie Freeman and that interest could still be there. Of course, this seems like a long shot for a couple reasons. Firstly, it has been widely believed that Freeman would return to Atlanta and talk of anything else was just noise. However, in recent days, that seems to be less of a certainty with the likes of Sherman and Ken Rosenthal saying they expect the Blue Jays to be in on Freeman once the lockout ends.
What’s more is that Sherman suggests that the Blue Jays have already “been given ownership approval for a large increase in payroll“. That would make sense in the context of the Seager pursuit. With a current payroll of $132M, it would have been difficult to imagine an additional big contract in Toronto’s future. That is especially true if we allow for money to be saved for in season acquisitions, etc. However, the continued mention of a possible connection between Toronto and Freeman might suggest that our thinking may have been incorrect.
MLBTR put out it’s free agent predictions, which have always been fairly close to what actually happens in free agency. This time around, they have Freeman getting a 6yr/$180 deal. That ~$30M AAV looks to be the entire total of what was assumed to be left in the bank for the year and with key areas of need yet to be addressed, it sounds far fetched that the Blue Jays would be in on a somewhat superfluous addition like Freeman.
The 32 yr old Freeman has been one of the better hitters in baseball over his career. There is no question that his bat would make an already potent offense even better, but there is question of a fit. Even though JFtC’s Karen Soutar has written that it is possible for the Blue Jays to accommodate playing time for Freeman, the fact that they have MVP candidate Vladimir Guerrero Jr.at first base makes the fit somewhat questionable. Of course, for a bat like Freeman’s, it is a rather nice problem to have.
But, a question that needs to be asked is whether $30M AAV is the right decision. Does Toronto want to be paying a 36, 37, 38 yr old DH that kind of money? One argument would be that the championships that could be won make the future problem worth taking on. Remember that big contracts are signed with the first few years in mind and the final years are a sacrifice teams make to be in a parade or two. A signing like this is usually done to put a team over the proverbial hump now, not 5 or 6 yrs from now. That said, teams have learned that these big contracts can be crippling later on. The good news for Toronto is that they are actually in a good position to pay big money 5 yrs from now. Contracts like Ryu will be off the books. Though, money will be needed to address the Vlad/Bo financial conundrum that will present itself.
What is likely is that the Blue Jays are not opening up the purse strings to the tune of $30M plus for just anyone. The pursuit of Seager and now Freeman (if true) signal a focused plan for the ‘right player’. Perhaps, they really do feel that they are missing a lefty bat, which both targets are and have approval for spending big on specific pieces. There are some players you just do whatever you can to sign, even if it means spending a lot more. Freeman just might be one of those players.
How a baseball team allocates money is often the subject of debate. There’s spending for the sake of spending and then there’s spending intelligently, and the definition of ‘intelligently’ varies greatly. Regardless of where you stand on this issue, the fact remains that the Blue Jays front office and ownership believe that there are times when you have to spend big money. They’ve already done so on multiple occasions and, while we thought there might not be more coming this year, it looks like they could do even more. Make no mistake, the Toronto Blue Jays are all in on winning and it is F’n exciting.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase.
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.