The shit storm of sentiment - on both sides of the coin - touched off by the Justin Smoak extension this weekend provided us with a timely opportunity to think through what a reasonable roster and payroll for the Blue Jays could look like in 2017. I use the term "reasonable" because while none of us knows for certain where Rogers will set the budget, a quick look at the Cot's data shows us that in the 2014-16 period the payroll has averaged US$134m, and given all of the positives that have emerged during 2016 (attendance, TV ratings, bounce in the CAD from ~US$0.68 in Jan to ~US$0.77 today) I think assuming a payroll floor of US$140m for next season is a rationale enough guess-timate for the time being.
With that preamble, I am going to borrow from some of the contributions I made in MK's The On-Going Negativity of the Jays Fan post earlier this week. Basically, let's take a look at what a hypothetical Jays roster could look like for 2017 based on (1) the guaranteed MLB contracts in place; (2) baking in the numbers for arb-eligible and MLB minimum players; and (3) some allocation of dollars to our free-agents to be. Let the roster-bation begin!
Rotation (5 of 5) - $33.05m - Sanchez ($0.55m), Marco ($14.5m), Happ ($13m), Stroman ($2.5m), Hutch ($2.5m)
Bullpen (3 of 7) - $4.3m - Osuna ($0.55m), Grilli ($3.0m), Schultz ($0.75)
Catchers (1 of 2) - $20.0m - Martin ($20.0m)
Infield (6 of 7) - $62.225m - Encarnacion ($20.0m), Smoak ($4.125m), Travis ($0.55m), Tulo ($20.0m), Donaldson ($17.0m), Goins ($0.55m)
Outfield (3 of 4) - $14.1m - Saunders ($13.0m), Pillar ($0.55m), Pompey ($0.55m)
Total (18 of 25 spots filled) - $133.675m - I still need 2 lefty relievers, 2 righty relievers, a backup catcher, another infielder (last year this was Colabello; this year it has been Barney), and another outfielder to help break in Pompey.
* Assumptions *
- I've let Dickey (and Thole) walk, and for now I've filled his spot with Hutch. RA was / is 200 innings with a 4-ish ERA, and at least so far Hutch projects to be ~200 innings with a 5-ish ERA.
- Hutch is in with a very slight bump to his current $2.2m comp (kind of what happened to Saunders this year after missing almost all of 2015), and Stro gets bumped up to a Hutch-like number in his first year of arb.
- Good news -- I've re-signed EE to a 3-year deal at an AAV of $20m -- a 100% raise for Eddie! Now Smoak can stay in his current role - 1B when EE is DH-ing, and bench when someone else needs to take a partial rest in the DH spot.
- More good news -- I put the QO on Saunders, and it depressed his market value just like it did to Marco last year, so Captain Canada is back on a 3-year deal with a $13m AAV (he took the bigger guaranteed dollars rather than accepting the 1 yr / ~$16.5m on the QO).
- Sadly, I had to say goodbye to franchise icon Jose Bautista (unless payroll goes way up I think there is only room for one of Bau or EE). Pompey gets a chance to play, but we need to have a good 4th OF on the roster just in case Dalton flops.
- In the 'pen, I picked up Grilli's $3m option to provide some "veteran presents", and I've got Biagini starting in Buffalo for when we need an arm (we would clearly need to add further depth in case of injury and underperformance). We also have to spend some dough on lefty relievers, which could still include FA-to-be Brett Cecil.
- So I'm at $134m, and I have a team with a respectable starting rotation (and presumably no innings limits next year), a lights out closer, key veteran players (Boss, EE, Tulo, Russ, Colonel), and a couple of cost-controlled important contributors (Pillar, Travis, and if things break right, Pompey).
Doesn't sound that bad, right? I am going to be reasonable - there's that word again - and not ask our corporate overlords for the money to keep both Bau and EE, but with the scenario laid out above even if they greenlight a US$150m budget in 2017 (just $10m above this year) we've got a decent amount of room to fill out the final 7 spots on the roster and still save some money in the coffers for trade deadline additions.
Nothing would make me happier than the "powers that be" taking the budget up to $175 - 200m, but I think this scenario shows that we should still be able to put a very good team on the field next year in the vicinity of US$150m, Justin Smoak extension or not. Now please let me know what I'm doing wrong...