Anything but a cash grab

Earlier this week, I broke down the Blue Jays 2010 payroll obligations when it came to positional players. Now that all the contracts on the roster have been settled, we have a better idea of where the money is going this coming season.

There you have it folks: the 2010 payroll for the Toronto Blue Jays is around $63.03 million dollars, give or take a few minor league contracts. This also includes obligations such as $500,000 for both Jesse Litsch and Dustin McGowan, even though they could theoretically spend all of 2010 on the inactive roster.

This does not account for the $6 million dollars sent to the Phillies in the Roy Halladay trade, as well as the $10 million for B.J. Ryan’s contract. Altogether that would bump the 2010 total payroll up to approximately $79.03 million dollars.


Take away the Vernon Wells contract, and the cash flow on this team is fairly evenly dispersed. All but two of the players on the roster are making less than $7 million dollars per season, and that could very easily change if Lyle Overbay is traded prior to Opening Day.

Seeing how all these contracts pile up, it’s surprising that other teams like the Florida Marlins and Minnesota Twins can manage to keep their payroll relatively low while still remaining competitive.

As you can see by the pie graph above, it’s very easy for a couple of huge albatross contracts to propel the entire payroll out of control. Throw in a couple of lame duck contracts and you’re suddenly the 2009 New York Mets paying $145 million dollars to watch the playoffs from the couch.

Ian Hunter

Ian has been writing about the Toronto Blue Jays since 2007. He enjoyed the tail-end of the Roy Halladay era and vividly remembers the Alex Rodriguez "mine" incident. He'll also retell the story of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS to his kids for the next 20 years.

10 thoughts on “Anything but a cash grab

  • January 21, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Nice. Though I'd bet McGowan is somewhere on the 25-man roster (for a couple of weeks anyways), so one of those pitchers will be making pennies on his $410k contract.

  • January 21, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    The Marlins stay competitive because they avoid big contracts. This accomplishes two things:

    a) a guarantee that productive players will be traded while they have value bringing talent in return(what the Jays should have done with Wells, Delgado, Jose Cruz, etc.)
    b) keeps the payroll low

    Essentially most teams ignore the opportunity cost when re-signing one of their own players. If you look at the Halladay deal for example, if the Jays had resigned Halladay, they would have just Halladay. However, since the didn't resign him, they now have Brett Wallace, Klye Drabek, D'Arnaud and $20 million to spend on other things. Halladay is nice and all but that's a lot to give up just to keep him.

  • January 21, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Be careful with the Marlins comparisons. They have NO fanbase to speak of and can therefore make any shrewd move they like.

    Almost every other teams has to consider the potential consumer fallout and what it means to their bottom line. The Marlins have nothing to lose because they derive zero income at the gate.

  • January 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    Gil, I didn't want to write off McGowan because I know there is a slight possibility he might be back this year. Regardless, they still have to pay him that $500K, so I included it towards the total just in case.

    Peter, now that you mention it, I can see a lot of similarities between the Blue Jays and the Marlins. Both have to compete with big spenders in their division (Yankees/Red Sox and Phillies/Mets).

    The Marlins have been criticized for blowing up their rosterss, but I think it's one of the smartest things they could have ever done: they traded away Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis before they got too expensive.

    Drew, you're right – it's bad when the league basically forces the Marlins to bump up their payroll. They can afford to make drastic moves and trade away key pieces of the team because the fan base simply isn't there. Do that in Toronto, and there's a HUGE backlash.

  • January 21, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I feel for Vernon Wells. On a team with such a low payroll, if he doesn't perform, last year's reaction to him will have been a walk in the park.

  • January 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I read an article somewhere that stated the Marlins were the most profitable team in baseball, mostly because of the amount of revenue sharing they get.

  • January 21, 2010 at 8:13 pm

    i think it only seems like the Marlins have no fan base because where they play. That stadium is way too big for baseball and it always looks empty.

  • January 21, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Peter, I don't doubt it. I couldn't find any recent numbers, but apparently in 2005 the Marlins received $25 million in revenue sharing, while only having a $22 million payroll.

    Colt, is it sad that I can tell you without even looking at video clips that the seats in the outfield are orange? That's because any time I've ever seen highlights from Marlins games, there are hardly any fans there. And I don't expect it will get any better for them in a new stadium.

  • January 22, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I think any talk of a "fan backlash" for trading players is overrated. Most of the studies I've seen on attendance show that fans come out for winning teams, and very little else, outside of random events like Beanie Baby Night.

    Meaning, an 81-81 team of "name" players will draw as much, or only slightly better, than a team full of rookies. The Marlins aren't a great example, since their biggest problem is taking a toxic dump on their roster immediately after winning multiple World Series. Normally, you see a big bump in attendance the year AFTER winning, but they dismantled the team so thoroughly after that they never did.

  • January 22, 2010 at 5:36 am

    Steve, I don't think there will be much of a backlash – I just meant that if the Blue Jays were to blow the entire thing up from the ground up (a la the Pittsburgh Pirates) then the Blue Jays would lose a lot of fans.

    Bottom line is a winning team will drive attendance. Until the Blue Jays can make the playoffs, the numbers will be soft for the next couple of years.

Comments are closed.