According to Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays plan to increase player payroll "perhaps to $100 million or beyond." How should they spend their money to best position themselves for 2007?
Here are J.P. Ricciardi’s contract obligations:
C – Jason Phillips – $0.55MM
1B – Lyle Overbay – $3MM
2B – Aaron Hill – $0.4MM
SS – John McDonald – $0.5MM
3B – Troy Glaus – $10.75MM
IF – John McDonald – $0.5MM
LF – Reed Johnson – $2MM
CF – Vernon Wells – $5.6MM
RF – Alex Rios – $0.4MM
OF – Adam Lind – $0.38MM
SP – Roy Halladay – $12.8MM
SP – A.J. Burnett – $12MM
SP – Gustavo Chacin – 0.4MM
SP – Shaun Marcum/Casey Janssen – $0.38MM
RP – B.J. Ryan – $5MM
RP – Jeremy Accardo – $0.4MM
RP – Jason Frasor – $0.4MM
RP – Scott Downs – $0.705MM
RP – Josh Towers – $2.9MM
RP – Brandon League – $0.38MM
RP – Francisco Rosario – $0.38MM
Toronto has roughly $67MM locked up after raises. At the least, the Blue Jays need a catcher, shortstop, DH, and starting pitcher. They might have $30-35MM to play with for ’07. The Jays entered 2006 with a $71.9MM payroll.
For a team with money, Julio Lugo seems like the obvious choice at short. Might require $10MM annually. There’s not much else in the free agent market, unless you fancy Craig Counsell, Rich Aurilia, or Alex Gonzalez. The Jays could try to trade for Miguel Tejada, if they want to part with Lind and others.
As far as backstops go, it would probably be best to just re-sign Gregg Zaun. The alternatives are not much better.
Of course, there are plenty of starters available. The Blue Jays have the cash, so they might as well sign a third ace to complement Halladay and Burnett. I hear some guys named Zito and Schmidt could command big bucks. If Ted Lilly will come back at a halfway decent price, Toronto should take it. However, retaining Lilly shouldn’t be an excuse not to add a top-notch starter. Problem is, Zito and Schmidt really are the only two aces out there, and there are more than two teams in contention. The Blue Jays may end up with a Gil Meche even after making one of them a huge offer.
At least one player should be added at LF/DH. It makes sense to go for one big name and then give to other spot to Lind. Some options include Frank Thomas, Barry Bonds, Moises Alou, Carlos Lee, and Alfonso Soriano.
With that amount of money to play with, the Blue Jays can become a serious force in 2007. Spending this cash is a smart move if it can propel them into the playoffs. Should be an exciting AL East in 2007.