Offseason Outlook: Toronto Blue Jays

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Blue Jays.  Their likely commitments for 2010:

C –
C – Raul Chavez – $500K+
1B – Lyle Overbay – $7MM
2B – Aaron Hill – $4MM
SS –
3B – Edwin Encarnacion – $4.75MM
IF – Joe Inglett – $411K
LF – Adam Lind – $412K
CF – Vernon Wells – $12.5MM
RF – Travis Snider – $401K
OF –
DH – Randy Ruiz – $400K
? –

SP – Roy Halladay – $15.75MM
SP – Ricky Romero – $400K
SP – Shaun Marcum – $405K+
SP – Marc Rzepczynski – $400K
SP – Scott Richmond – $402K

Other candidates: Brett Cecil, David Purcey, Brad Mills

Injured:  Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch
RP – Scott Downs – $4MM
RP – Jason Frasor – $1.45MM+
RP – Brandon League – $640K+
RP – Jesse Carlson – $409K
RP – Casey Janssen – $414K
RP – Shawn Camp – $750K+
RP – Brian Tallet – $1.015MM+

Non-tender candidates: Jose Bautista, Jeremy Accardo

Other commitments: B.J. Ryan – $10MM

Assuming Bautista and one of Accardo/Tallet are non-tendered, the Blue Jays will have roughly $56MM committed before arbitration raises to Marcum, Frasor, League, Camp, and Chavez.  Add in B.J. Ryan's salary and commitments are in the low $70MM range.  The Jays entered 2009 with an $80.5MM payroll, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.  New GM Alex Anthopoulos might have $10MM to spend, if the team holds payroll steady.

If Anthopoulos looks to contend in 2010, he's got his work cut out for him, especially if payroll isn't increased.  With Rod Barajas and Marco Scutaro eligible for free agency, the team could lose its starters at catcher and shortstop.  The Jays also lack a right fielder if they're unwilling to use Lind and Snider at the corners.

The Jays could attempt to improve upon Barajas behind the plate, though most other free agent catchers are equally questionable.  Arizona's Chris Snyder would be an interesting target, if not for the $11.25MM remaining on his contract.  Blue Jays catcher of the future J.P. Arencibia seemingly needs more seasoning after a .236/.284/.444 Triple A performance.  Barajas hopes to return, but has yet to hold discussions with the Jays.

Shortstop will also be a difficult position to fill.  Scutaro could be seeking $6-7MM annually coming off a career year.  The free agent market is bleak here as well, with J.J. Hardy the obvious trade target.  The Blue Jays might even have the starting pitching depth to pull off a deal with Milwaukee.

As always, outfield and DH options are plentiful on the free agent market.  Anthopoulos can afford to wait until February and hunt for a bargain.

I've been operating under the assumption the Blue Jays will attempt to compete in 2010 and will therefore keep Halladay.  If so, their rotation appears deep.  But is it crazy to think the Jays could trade Doc and put themselves in a better position for 2010?  Perhaps Anthopoulos could build the trade around a Major League-ready catcher or shortstop as well as a high-quality young starting pitcher.

Anthopoulos has admitted his team needs more than tweaking.  Will the Blue Jays commit to a full-scale rebuilding plan?  Will they raise payroll significantly and add players to complement Halladay, Lind, and Hill?  It'd be disappointing to see the Jays choose something in-between.

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