After years of stable building, Blue Jess’s potential must now be filled

TORONTO – The 2022 season portal has a fruitful breakthrough for the Toronto Blue Jays, a step from year-to-year steady buildup to a specific step where this carefully curated opportunity must be filled.

It is now a natural evolution that instead of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Beachet the guru of distant hopes, the current superstar, now an elite talent like George Springer and Kevin Gaussman, achieves free-agent goals, now an ace like Jose Berrios. Can be a transitioning, small-market club and long-term extension.

Missing that opportunity in 2017, the chaos of 2018, the tragedy of 95-loss 2019 were all in the service of building the kind of runway that the Blue Jays are really building.

Unusually, the epidemic has both paved their way and accelerated their progress, a post-season berth expected-unexpected surprise in the 2020 campaign, a one-game-short follow-up in 2021, a painful lesson on how every little detail matters

Still, the set-up for 2022 and the next three years were always the type of destination when President and CEO Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins started the process. This opening day roster collectively is the most complete in the history of the franchise. They’re not trying to figure things out, they’re just trying to figure out what they did a year ago.

That must be because the Blue Jays have a runway but time passes quickly through competitive windows, as their neighbors on the other end of the Bremen’s BLVD, the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, can prove it. With each passing summer, this talented core ratchet continues to increase the pressure of profits, while the advancement of players’ normal salaries complicates the construction of the roster.

One of the main challenges facing the Blue Jays is managing everything, which has turned the financial flexibility they have enjoyed in recent years into finishing pieces like Springer, Gaussman, Barrios, Hyun Jean Reeu, Matt Chapman and USA Kikuchi.

As a result, they started the 2022 season with a salary of just over $ 170 million, a club record, and seven players earned $ 10 million or more, three of them $ 20 million or more. The following year, they pledged about $ 118 million to eight players, with 20 73 million pledged for four players, including $ 65 million for three players in 2024, 2025.

None of this is specified for Guerrero, who first went through িশ 605,400 to $ 7.9 million through arbitration, or Beachet, who turned down Blue Jess’s offer of $ 747,100 this spring and was renewed to $ 723,550 instead, and will be due for a big increase. Arbitration next year.

With only two pending free agents – Ross Stripling and David Phelps – and a বেতন 5.5 million guaranteed salary coming out of the books, that means the 2023 Blue Jays, excluding trade, will look a lot like the 2022 club but the cost is much higher.

Then, after the 2023 season, a decision point appears, when Ryu, Chapman, Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Ramiel Tapia will all qualify for the free agency. The Rogers Center should be reformed by 2024, creating new revenue streams that, in part, help accelerate payroll spending, but decisions will now be limited by the choices made.

“If you’re going to get to the point of being a championship-caliber team, you’re going to get a more top-heavy roster,” Shapiro said in a recent interview. “The next year, really, is the biggest challenge to manage. We have pre-loaded some deals (Springer, Kikuchi, Chapman). We have made it clear that the decisions we have made will continue to pay the same or higher salaries for the next year. After all, we have the ability to recalibrate and make decisions, can we move forward? And finally, there will be some business considerations, not from the owner, but from our business, does it generate revenue?

“You don’t have to ask, you can just look at attendance numbers, see ratings and it will give you your answer,” he added. “If we go back to the level we were in ’15 and ’16, we will be able to maintain or increase our salaries. If we do not, we will probably have to reconsider our list. “

In that sense, the Blue Jays were third among the American League teams in 2015 in appearance before leading the loop in both 2016 and 2017. Their revenue hit the last two years due to the 2020 fan-less epidemic season and the nomadic, three-house-202 field campaign. They started this season without any restrictions on attendance at the Rogers Center, wanting to re-establish a strong link between revenue and pay.

Asked specifically if the next two seasons would have an impact on the competitive window, Shapiro said: Can we extend it beyond where we are now, the highest in the history of the franchise? ”

How the Blue Jays build around Guerrero and Beachet for 2024 and 2025 – the last two seasons before they qualify for free agency – and whether they can extend one or both of their bases beyond that is crucial.

This will not be easy to hasten in large part due to the market changes created by the pre-arbitration extensions for Fernando Tatis ($ 340 million, 14 years) and Wonder Franco ($ 182 million, 11 years). Guerrero and Beachet can rightly look to Tatis’s guarantee to reverse the free-agent as a floor, while the Blue Jays do not face the same limitations as the San Diego Padres and the Tampa Bay Rake.

“It’s not that we’re a small market where it moves towards the end of the contract and we can’t expand them, we have to panic and trade them for potential,” Shapiro said. “We will look at our team’s competition, where we are in a window of debate, and we will look to continue to expand them and see if we can find the sweet spot to share the risk.

“If not, we’re lucky to have enough assets with an owner to whom we can go year after year. I can understand the fans or maybe an outsider might think you need to raise these guys. I feel like when I work at Cleveland I used to.

That answer reflects, perhaps, the experience of the Blue Jays this off-season, when both Robbie Ray and Marcus Semyon could not be re-signed, and backfilled with Gaussman, Chapman and Kikuchi instead of Atkins. In essence, the takeaway is that even if the star players are gone, there is still the power to spend, which gives them a chance to recover.

It doesn’t always work – replacing Edwin Encarnacion in the 2016-17 off-season with Kendris Morales and Steve Pierce as Exhibit A – but Blue Jess can structurally transfer contracts to Guerrero and Beachet as free agents. Barrios is the only player with guaranteed money in 2027 and beyond, who can opt out of $ 24 million in both that year and 2028.

“More than two of our elite players on our roster have been overpaid at the moment,” said Shapiro. “Fixation if necessary (to raise Guerrero and Beachet) – these players are in control for three more seasons (after 2022). That’s a very long time. In the meantime, it’s safe to say that we will continue to explore extensions with them, both formally and informally. If that doesn’t happen, it’s still a way to get more involved with the market. And if they go for free agency, we will definitely be a team that will follow them in free agency. “

Of course with that approach there is a risk of losing the player, just as there is a risk of guaranteeing millions of dollars before the need arises. There is also the risk of multiple adverse negotiations in arbitration before coloring the relationship between the player and the club, perhaps making the exploration of other opportunities more interesting.

Beachet’s decision to reject the club’s offer and force it to renew was a demonstration of his dissatisfaction with the club’s pre-arbitration pay scale and his willingness to pay in line with its value.

Similarly, Guerrero established a strong first-year arbitration number at 7.9 million, especially when he had only one elite season on his platform. This is especially significant for both the figure player and the club because as a Super 2 player, he will go through arbitration four times instead of three, and the initial number is a basis that is multiplied.

Arbitration, notoriously, can be a breeding ground for bad feelings and many controversial discussions can create luggage for a relationship, although Shapiro believes the Blue Jays have shielded against those possibilities.

“We have been very intent on trying to create an environment and a culture that consistently demonstrates that we want to give players more money and that we want to do everything we can to keep them in the best possible position.” Shapiro says. “From the food to the people who work with them, to the opportunities they have, we’re trying to keep them in position to make them more successful and pay more. We want it.

“So the deal is two percent of our time with them, 98 percent of our interactions are not contractual. We will continue to focus on 98 percent, not two percent. And two percent is just an underlying business reality.”

These and other underlying business realities will grow larger and larger in the years to come, along with the opportunities at hand. This is a fun time and the franchise has worked hard to reach this point of promise, but creating the chances of a championship is one thing, realizing it and sustaining another win. As the new season begins, the challenge of the Blue Jays definitely shifts from the former to the latter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.