Making the 2017 Blue Jays—Armchair GM: Luxury Tax Edition

What might the Blue Jays look like in 2017 with a payroll budget set sky high?

MLB’s luxury tax threshold was $189m in 2016. There’s a probable increase coming under the new CBA but since we don’t know what it is, we’ll go with $195m. It’s a massive increase from last year’s opening day payroll of $136,782,027— $58,217,973 more.

This the “kid in a candy store” scenario. It’s not Dodger-level extravagance but for the Blue Jays it’s opulent.

Here’s the Blue Jays’ roster as it stands:

C Russell Martin
1B Justin Smoak
2B Devon Travis
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Josh Donaldson
LF Melvin Upton
CF Kevin Pillar
RF Dalton Pompey
DH Kendrys Morales

Bench:

C  A.J Jimenez
IF Darwin Barney
IF Ryan Goins
OF Ezequiel Carrera

SP Estrada
SP Happ
SP Stroman
SP Sanchez
SP Liriano

RP Osuna
RP Grilli
RP Loup
RP Tepera
RP Schultz
SP/RP Bolsinger
SP/RP Biagini

Assuming arbitration and non-guaranteed contract estimations, the Jays are at about $136m. That leaves $59m to play with in this situation.

  • First move, as in the previous two scenarios, is to non-tender Josh Thole for a savings of roughly $1m.
  • And for the third time, I’ll ship Justin Smoak off to Colorado for Chad Qualls for a savings of $350k. However, this time I’ll replace him with…
  • Edwin Encarnacion $105m over 5 years.
  • Steve Pearce $12m over 2 years. The perfect utility man.
  • C Jason Castro $19.5m over 3 years.
  • I’ll once again exchange Ezequiel Carrera for old friend Liam Hendriks. Saves $250K
  • RF Josh Reddick for $36 over 3 years.
  • RP Brett Cecil $18m over 3 years.
  • RP J.P Howell $8m over 2 years. Two dependable lefties in the ‘pen is a luxury the Jays have not enjoyed for some time.
  • RP Junichi Tazawa $6m over 2 years.

C Russell Martin
1B Edwin Encarnacion
2B Devon Travis
SS Troy Tulowitzki
3B Josh Donaldson
LF Melvin Upton
CF Kevin Pillar
RF Josh Reddick
DH Kendrys Morales

Bench:

C  Jason Castro
IF Darwin Barney
1B Steve Pearce
OF Dalton Pompey

SP Estrada
SP Happ
SP Stroman
SP Sanchez
SP Liriano

RP Osuna
RP Grilli
RP JP Howell
RP Cecil
RP Hendriks
RP Tazawa
SP/RP Biagini

Cost: ~192.9m. The remaining $2m can be spent on spring training invites.

This would be one of the top rosters in the league. The bullpen, while not the best, would likely be the deepest. The lineup is balanced and very threatening while also improving defensively. One can dream right?

However, as much of an increase as $195m is, you still can’t get everyone you’d like to get. Pieces add up quickly.

Follow: @mjfmckee

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