Hat tip to The Drunks who picked up on this item from Joel Sherman:
See the Canadian economy is in freefall, as well. As recently as October, the Jays thought they would be able to preserve their $97 million payroll, maybe even inch above it. They have won 87, 83 and 86 games the last three years. But now they are targeting an $83 million payroll.
There's actually a lot about the Jays in the column but I'll stick to the money issue for now.
Edit: Just to be clear, I have no reason to assume this report is accurate, or that the source Sherman heard it from is accurate. Lord knows misdirection is an art form in the Jays' front office. What follows is based on the assumption, for the sake of discussion, that it might be true.
I've reviewed the Jays' payroll situation before and without plowing that same ground, I can tell you that $83 million is almost exactly right on what the current roster would project to (with Snider on the LF/DH I make it as just a hair under $82 million).
Now, the common assumption among Jays watchers is that Jason Frasor won't be on the team next year and that Brian Tallet is a leading candidate to be dealt. Between the two of them, that's about $2 million in savings (combined they will make about $3 but you have to pay their replacements around $400,000 apiece). So let's take as a working figure that right this minute, they have about $3 million to play with.
Here are other players who have some potential of not being with the Jays by Spring Training:
1. Jose Bautista: Should make around $2. 5 million at arbitration (or via settlement) - Once you replaced him on the roster, you are saving about $2 million here as well. Bautista has two things he brings to the Jays. First, versatility - he can play 3B, 2B, the outfield corners and, I expect, would get schooled at 1B during spring training. That said, Joe Inglett can do al that too. The second thing is much more intriguing - he pounds LHP. For an offense strapped team that will potentially have two young LH hitters in the line-up, along with Overbay who most years struggles against lefties (last year his OPS splits were .865 vs RH and .540 vs LH), that is a skill well worth $2 million.
If you went with a straight platoon of Overbay and Bautista at 1B next year and they replicated their history, you'd be looking at a guy - we'll call him Overtista, who looks very very much like Joey Votto last year, who had the ninth best OPS among qualifying 1B in the majors last year. So he's not a commodity we just kick to the curb - we'd have to be using that money in an important way.
2. B.J. Ryan: $10 mil per over the next two seasons - JP strictly denies it is an option he's considering, and the market is flooded with closers at the moment so you'd be selling in a buyers market. But if you seriously were going to play for someone like Furcal or Bradley, this is the deal that you'd most easily be able to compensate for internally. My guess here is that Ryan won't be moved in a buyer's market unless JP has a signing lines up which demands it.
3. Lyle Overbay: $7 million each year over the next two - A deal of Overbay virtually guarantees Snider opens 2009 in the majors. Even at that, the Jays would have to be signing a free agent DH or outfielder so that would be a sideways move, and not one that would facilitate someone like Furcal (unless the Jays find a way to trade for a cheap DH like one of the excess 1B/DH types in Kansas City - I'll take Kila please!). There's a relatively thin market for a league average 1B (albeit one with excellent defense) - Giants, Orioles, Mariners maybe. I could come up with multi-move scenerios which I would like but honestly, I don't see any of them playing out.
4. Brian Tallet: Arbitration eligible, probably looking at around $1.2 million - i mentioned him above, not a huge savings here but quality LHRP are in demand and he might produce a nicereturn. The market is good enough that giving him away or non-tendering him would be foolish given the relatively small savings. Frasor, otoh, will get close to $2 million and RH pitchers are not so in-demand. We'd be VERY blessed if we could trade him.
5. Scott Downs: $7.75 total over the next two years - this is a very team friendly deal which makes a guy who's already one of the best even more valuable. I can't see the Jays dealing him unless the return is VERY impressive (for instance, suppose the Royals would deal Avilas and Kila Ka'ahulie for him).
6. Vernon Wells: $10 mil in 2009, as much as $107 million over the following five years if he doesn't opt out after 2011 - The common wisdom is that Wells is too expensive to deal in this market and that's likely true, but a team which seems to have no money worries like the Cubs or the yankees might bite - you wouldn't get full value for him though. if the Jays are serious that they intend to play to win in 2009 and not write the season off, Wells doesn't get dealt this winter. Maybe next year if the bad economy seems to have no end in sight by then.
7. Scott Rolen: $11 mil each for the next two seasons - a lot of fans talk about "getting rid of" Rolen. That's the most foolish possibility on this list. Casey Blake, who is a marginally worse player when Rolen is struggling, and a vastly worse player when Rolen is right, is about to make $6+ million per year - that's the market for a league average hitter with a mediocre glove. It's also what you'd have to spend if you had to sign a replacement for him. Even laying aside the difficulty in finding a team that will gamble that his recovery is for real, the savings isn't remotely worth the downgrade.
8. John McDonald: $1.9 mil in 2009 - I don't expect this unless the Jays did land a new candidate for SS, be it Furcal or some younger and cheaper option, but if such were to happen, a deal which would shuffle McDoanld off to a team with a hole - to the Padres for Scott Hairston for instance (who's arb eligible and would have a similar contract) but the savings, if any, would be negligible.
9. Alex Rios: $5.9 in 2009, $65.6 million over the next 6 years - JP downplayed this possibility and while I find his explanation silly, I tend to agree. if Rios plays to his ability, his contract is a bargain and you'd have to get a real prize to deal him.
Mix and match until your heart's content. There are real possibilities there, and more far-fetched ideas. As I said least night, I'd be happy to see some smaller less-noticed deals that didn't remake the roster.
More on the meetings later tonight I'm sure.