However, in the last few years the baseball world has been greatly blessed by a number of great on-line resources which help cut through the jungle of obfuscation. Among these is the wonderful Cot's Baseball Contracts.
Every informed fan should have it bookmarked (or, have our humble site bookmarked knowing that there's a link here). It is with the invaluable information found there that I shall attempt to inform you what the Jays budget situation looks to be as we drift ever closer to another winter of wheeling and dealing.
First, some basic assumptions: I assume for the sake of this discussion that the Jays have a $100 million payroll ceiling for next season since we are a negligible distance from that figure in 2008. In my opinion, Rogers will quite possible raise that figure, and they will certainly be willing to discuss a specific increase for a specific player but you have to assume some benchmark in order to make sense so I assume essentially a renewal of the current one. That said, understand it as "approximately" since going (for instance) 225K over or under is irrelevant.
Secondly, I assume that JP was honest when he implied strongly last night that the team would exercise the option on Rod Barajas. So I will speak of him as "under contract" but be advised the technically, they have not yet made that happen.
Finally, as always, one has to estimate the pre-arbitration contracts and the amount the arb eligible guys get, but I think these are pretty close.
So, here's the list. There are 27 guys here because I include McGowan even though he won't start the year on the roster, and another pitcher will make up for that. I chose Wolfe as the familiar name but if you prefer Parrish or Richmond, so be it, the payroll impact is minuscule. A similar thought led to the inclusion of Janssen. Bolded players are under contract, the three with "*" are arbitration eligible, and the rest are pre-arb.
The totals break down like this:
Under contract: $70.99 million (includes Barajas)
Arb-eligible: $5.5 million (estimated)
Pre-arbitration: $4.88 (estimated)
Total: $81.37 million
Now, that said, Frasor will almost certainly be traded or non-tendered (It would not shock me if he were the player to be named in the acquisition announced today of Jose Bautista). Likewise, I expect Tallet to be traded (easier to do than with Frasor, so no non-tender there) and Baustista may well be non-tendered as well (though given the uncertainty around Rolen he would also be potentially brought back for less money.
I also think that there's some likelihood that the Jays will try to include a contract in any trade they might make (for instance, you trade for Khalil Greene and you try to get them to take Scutaro in the deal).
So, bare minimum, the Jays have $19 million in play this winter. Move the arbitration contracts off the roster and you have $24-25. Again, that assumes no budget increase. And while JP made budget-conscious remarks last night, I don't see a pattern lately which would imply a static payroll budget. So while there is no doubt we can afford a Manny or a similar sort of player in 2009, what we can spend past that is uncertain.
Among the other things JP said last night is that the Jays were unlikely to pursue high-cost pitching to replace AJ (assuming AJ gets away which seems likely) and the team likes its internal options. I actually like that. I've never been in favor of a big long term deal on another SP.
(I do have a smaller idea that intruiges me but I don't want to get too far off topic here.)
One final note:
You can look at other sites which give you a different projected team total and different specific salaries for certain players. the reason this happens is signing bonuses. When I do a total I follow the contracted terms of payment of signing bonuses when Cot's tells me there is a specific schedule, otherwise I pro-rate it. Many other sites pro-rate all bonuses regardless of the contracted schedule.
So, there you have it. Discuss!