A case can be made that Friday's Vernon Wells trade was the most significant move of the offseason. The Angels took on his entire contract, freeing up a ton of present and future payroll for the Blue Jays. Wells is scheduled to make $23MM in 2011 and then another $21MM each season from 2012-2014, and it's fairly obvious how shedding that much of an obligation will allow GM Alex Anthopoulos to improve his team.
Now that Wells is off the books, let's use Cot's Baseball Contracts to see what the Jays are on the hook for over the next few seasons. This is guaranteed money only, so arbitration and pre-arbitration contracts are not included. Same with option years, only the buyouts are counted since that's the only portion of the contract that is guaranteed.
- 2011: $44.09MM, but only going up once contracts with arbitration-eligibles Jose Bautista, Mike Napoli, and Jason Frasor are finalized.
- 2012: $17.4MM. Both Adam Lind and Ricky Romero will earn $5MM+ while Adeiny Hechavarria and Rajai Davis will each pull down $2MM+. Six-figure buyouts to Jon Rauch, Octavio Dotel, and Edwin Encarnacion made up the rest.
- 2013: $16.15MM: Almost all Lind, Romero, and Hechevarria. Davis' buyout comes into play as well.
- 2014: $9.75MM. Romero and Lind's $2MM buyout.
- 2015: $7.75MM: All Romero.
- 2016: $600K. Romero's buyout.
Aaron Hill's contract contains club options for 2012 ($8MM), 2013 ($8MM), and 2014 ($10MM) with no buyouts, though the 2014 option goes away if the team does not exercise all three before this upcoming season. Either way, it seems like a safe bet that at least the 2012 option will be picked up, increasing that season's total obligation to a still modest $25.4MM.
Toronto holds seven of the first 80 picks in next June's draft, including the Angels' second rounder for Scott Downs, and Anthopoulos has emphasized that method of talent acquisition since taking over. A portion of the Wells savings could be spent there. The club is also set up well for a run at either Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder next offseason, should they choose to go that route.
It was just 18 months ago that the Blue Jays owed over $160MM to Wells and Alex Rios, yet today they owe the pair nothing. Those savings can go a long way towards building the next playoff team in Toronto.