McCown: The Blue Jays’ Payroll May Decrease as Much as 35%

The 2015/2016 MLB offseason is only in its infancy and here we are already discussing the $135 million dollar question when it comes to the Toronto Blue Jays; and that’s pertaining to the team’s payroll, or the lack thereof.

Late last week, Bob McCown spoke on Prime Time Sports about rumblings he’s heard of the Blue Jays trimming back their payroll.

But earlier today, McCown divulged exactly how much the Jays’ payroll could decrease next season.


“I can only tell you what is being discussed, and the discussion began with some sort of payroll cut. And it may have been as much as 35%. So to put it in generic terms, from $135 million dollar payroll to a $100 million dollar payroll.”

Now, I think many are expecting the Blue Jays’ 2016 payroll to shrink somewhat compared to 2015. There are a lot of contracts coming off the books and a lot of high-priced free agents that won’t be back next year.

But slashing the payroll as much as 35%? It’s safe to say the majority are in agreement here; it’s very difficult to run a successful team in the American League East with only a $100 million dollar payroll. Not to mention, the sum of salaries for the 2016 Toronto Blue Jays will far exceed $100 million anyway.

The funny thing is a 35% cut to the Blue Jays’ current payroll is actually $87.75 million dollars, which is well below the initial $100 million dollar projection laid out by Bob McCown.

If there’s any credence to McCown’s report, that would mean shedding some big contracts from the roster; which invariably starts with high priced players like Troy Tulowitzki, and to a lesser extent, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

I’m not going to argue about the validity of the report laid out on Prime Time Sports; feel free to make your own judgement on that one, but if the prospect of cutting payroll by 35% was even tabled, that scares me a great deal.

With Mark Shapiro taking over the helm as Blue Jays president, there’s an expectation that the purse strings may tighten up a little bit this offseason. But a payroll cut of 35% cannot be justified by a team that won an AL East division title and nearly made it to Game 7 of the ALCS.

How can the Blue Jays possibly expected to do more with less? How are they supposed to get better by trimming payroll and key players from the roster?

That 35% reduction number may have just been a baseline for discussions by the front office, but fans are surely hopeful it’s nowhere near the eventual number for any potential payroll cuts for the Blue Jays.

Hat tip to @jr8877 for the heads up on the interview. Image courtesy of Sportsnet


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.

14 thoughts on “McCown: The Blue Jays’ Payroll May Decrease as Much as 35%

  • November 10, 2015 at 1:28 am

    if they cut payroll, i won't be going to any games this year

  • November 10, 2015 at 2:38 am

    Agreed. How much money did fans hand rogers this year? Personally, a lot, loved every minute of it but I'm not doing it again if it's clear 0% went back into the team. I think they'll find a lot of fans will feel the same.

  • November 10, 2015 at 2:45 am

    actually, a 35m drop from 135 to 100 isn't 35%, it's 26%

    But any cut at all is complete BS – Simmons noted the team is closing in on $50 mil of found money because uf the success and will likely hit 70. Any budget lower than 150 is an insult to the fans and they ought to stay away in droves and let Rogers know why.

    • November 10, 2015 at 3:27 am

      Under Sharpio now, I think it could go down slightly, but a 35% decrease (or anything close to it) would be ludicrous.

  • November 10, 2015 at 3:13 am

    I put down $500 on season tickets for next season. I will email Rogers and let them know that i will leave that $500 on the table and walk away if they lower payroll one iota. I am sure i will not be the only one…

  • November 10, 2015 at 4:15 am

    $100m is achievable with OF of Pompey, Pillar, and Bautista plus Saunders, IF of Donaldson, Goins, Travis, Smoak/Colabello/Encarnacion, and Navarro/Thole, rotation of Stroman, Dickey, Osuna, Sanchez, Hutch, and BP of Hendriks, Cecil, Loup, Infante, Tepera/Schultz, and a couple free agents. Should be able to add some nice depth in moving Tulowitzky, Martin and Revere.

    It's not as good as with those guys, but not terrible either. Anyway, from Rogers' perspective, if it's theoretically possible to make the playoffs and generate that higher revenue on a $100m payroll, why run a higher cost operation? And how many of you would really abandon the team, especially if they're great again but on a lower payroll?

    • November 10, 2015 at 10:34 am

      I would absolutely burn all of my Blue Jays gear if they decide to lower their payroll. Baseball isn't about fielding a team that might be able to win but about fielding the best team you can. Given the added revenue the Jays saw from the last half of 2015 the team should put most of those funds back into payroll to keep the fan base and revenue base for that matter excited.

  • November 10, 2015 at 4:39 am

    I can certainly see the Blue Jays being required to make up some of the payroll shortfall via their own resources, such as advance/season ticket sales, pricing increases, sponsorships, etc. That's a long way from a payroll cut. Sounds like a couple of old windbags Bob and Paul shooting the crap over beers.

  • November 10, 2015 at 4:55 am

    @G Man: that's a nice 75-78 win team you've described. If that happens, baseball is dead in Toronto. But, I'd leave no level of stupidity out of the equation where Rogers, headed by a trust fund baby (just like Canada, come to think of it), is concerned.

    • November 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      They could have been the Mets+ if not for all the prospects moved out, especially in the Marlins deal. What's the Mets' payroll?

      Maybe you're right that cutting the current roster to get to $100m would result in a loser, but it's completely possible to field a winner – even in the AL East! – for less than $150 or whatever number people are demanding. You just have to be smarter with your assets.

    • November 10, 2015 at 4:46 pm


      They only got Tulo because they had Reyes from the Marlins deal to swing the trade. Plus the higher payroll from getting Buerhle and Josh Johnson back.

      Dickey turned out to be a bad trade, still AA made a move for a guy coming off a Cy Young season when he looked to have a strong team. Injuries changed that dream.

      And we still didn't move Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna, Pompey, Pentecost, etc. So we don't exactly have a bare cupboard.

      As for our team next year, should be the following:

      C: Martin
      1B: Colabello (Smoak)
      2B: Travis (Goins)
      SS: Tulowitzki
      3B: Donaldson
      LF: Revere
      CF: Pillar (Pompey)
      RF: Bautista
      DH: Encarnacion

      SP: FA
      SP: Stroman
      SP: FA (Estrada?)
      SP: Dickey
      SP: Hutchison

      And shore up the bullpen.

      Anything less than that or a comparable team is a joke….

  • November 10, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    What part is wrong? An aging and expensive Tulo is a luxury, not a necessity for winning.

    • November 12, 2015 at 5:44 am

      And who would you rather have from that Marlins trade over Tulo at 4 more years of control?

      -Yunel Escobar
      -Adeiny Hechavarria
      -Henderson Alvarez
      -Jeff Mathis
      -Justin Nicolino,
      -Anthony Desclafani
      -Jake Marisnick

      Humor me…..

    • November 14, 2015 at 11:29 pm

      Well, you'd have all of the above, or whatever you could have got for them in a separate deal. And I don't really get the question because any of those pieces would have been useful on the Jays roster.

      But it's not a simple question. It's pretty clear that in adding the salaries he added in the Marlins deal, AA used up his entire budget. So you have to include opportunity cost – which of those players plus whomever else you could have added with the money would you rather have is the right way to frame your question.

      And, since you're asking about Tulo rather than Reyes, you have to add Hoffman to your list of which players I'd rather have over Tulo.

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