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Blue Jays Current Roster & Future Budget

The Toronto Blue Jays have made it clear what their needs are and this coming offseason may (or may not) provide the context to address them


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The Toronto Blue Jays have made their needs very clear over the last little while, which one could argue has been the whole season. Pitching! Pitching, pitching and more pitching. Before anyone says it, YES, it is very early to be thinking about this. There is still lots of baseball to be played, some of it will even come in playoff variety. There is so much that can happen before the offseason. That said, what is kind of interesting is that the Blue Jays find themselves with very little turnover for next season as well as a limited amount of coin with which to address their needs. It’s going to be interesting.

 

According to Team Payroll numbers via Fangraphs’ Roster Resource, Toronto will see two players hit the open market. The soon to be 36 yr old, David Phelps is set to become a free agent. The veteran has seen 43 innings of work and put up an ERA of 2.72, a FIP of 2.81 and 0.7 fWAR, beating out his expected stats by a noticeable amount. He’s still getting the fastball velocity up over 93 mph and is not being barrelled much at all as evidenced by his 3.5% rate. It is easy to envision him getting a deal for next year, even if he has to wait a bit to sign one.

 

The other free agent candidate is Ross Stripling. He turns 33 in November and has proven this year that he is a valuable commodity. The Blue Jays benefitted from a guy they can use out of the bullpen for multiple innings or throw into the rotation if the need arises. With Hyun Jin Ryu having Tommy John surgery and Yusei Kikuchi being a mystery, Stripling came in and provided a satbilizing presence. In 82.2 innings (including 15 starts), Stipling has put up an ERA of 3.16, a FIP of 3.02 and 1.9 fWAR, which is good for 3rd on the team, behind Kevin Gausman and Alek Manoah, respectively. It’s definitely a good time for him to look at becoming a free agent. Hopefully, he comes back from the IL quickly and Toronto can add him to their playoff depth before a decision is to be made.

 

It is doubtful that the Blue Jays would extend a Qualifying Offer to Stripling. $20M may be out of their comfort zone for one year of his services. They’d probably like to work out a multi year deal. But, that may become tricky given the context of their budgetary constraints heading into the 2023 season.

 

The Blue Jays look to have 12 players going to arbitration, assuming a multi year extension type of deal doesn’t happen.

Teoscar Hernandez: Arb 3 ($10.65M in 2022)
Raimel Tapia: Arb 3 ($3.95M in 2022)
Adam Cimber: Arb 3 ($1.575M in 2022)
Danny Jansen: Arb 2 ($1.95M in ’22)
Bradley Zimmer: Arb 2 ($1.3M in ’22)
Trevor Richards: Arb 2 ($1M in ’22)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Arb 2 ($7.9M in ’22)
Cavan Biggio: Arb 2 ($2.123 in ’22)
Tim Mayza: Arb 2 ($1.25M in ’22)
Trent Thornton: Arb 2 ($850k in ’22)
Jordan Romano: Arb 1 ($728K in ’22)
Bo Bichette: Arb 1 ($724k in ’22)

It should also be mentioned that Toronto owes Colorado $4.3M next year for Randal Grichuk. Surely, there will be some increases in salary when those arbitration cases are addressed. While someone like Tapia or Zimmer could find themselves on the DFA list, it is tough to imagine Toronto parting with any of the others in that manner. That means payroll is going to increase.

 

Currently, Fangraphs has the 2022 payroll at $174.721M with the Luxury Tax payroll at $194.935M. The estimations for next year are as follows: $122.607M/ LT $146.607M. We know that Toronto is not going to go slashing payroll, but they’re not going to spend all willy-nilly either. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be ridiculous to see a 2023 payroll similar to this season, and MAYBE a small increase is in the cards. We can’t bet on that, so let’s use this year’s total as a benchmark for this napkin math exploration.

 

It looks like the Blue Jays will have south of $50M to work with going into 2023. While we have no way of knowing if that number is what President, Mark Shapiro, and GM, Ross Atkins, will pitch to the powers that be at Rogers, but it works for this exercise. We should probably say that the conversations between management and ownership likely won’t revolve around a set limit at all, but will likely be discussed on a move by move basis. However, if we consider that at least 10 of the 12 arbitration guys will definitely be back, and making more money, Toronto may have a tough task ahead of them.

 

It is entirely possible that Atkins will need to replace Phelps and maybe even Stripling. With Ryu out, they’ll need a starter to take his spot. Gausman, Manoah and Jose Berrios are the only three locks for the rotation, so there’s some heavy lifting to be done there. And, we have seen this season what happens when the bullpen is not effectively addressed. So, Atkins cannot ignore that. As well, assuming Tapia and Zimmer don’t return, there’s a bench bat to find.

 

The Toronto Blue Jays are not afraid to use their financial flexibility to address their needs. However, what may become clear over the next 6 months or so is whether they are reaching the extent of the power that flexibility provides. Money is not infinite and Toronto will be faced with some interesting decisions. Sometimes, an offseason is the time to simply go out and buy what you need. Toronto may not be able or willing to do that so freely this time around.

 

 


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