The Blue Jays are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series.
Eligible For Free Agency (6)
- The Jays seemingly took Juan Rivera from the Angels as a means of facilitating the Vernon Wells trade. In February they were rumored to be shopping him. If he's still struggling a few months from now a release could be in order.
- Frank Francisco is expected to join the big league club today after dealing with pectoral muscle and shoulder issues. Health is always a concern for Francisco. Though his salary is already at $4MM, I can still see the Jays offering arbitration if a draft pick is involved.
- I'm curious to see whether Shawn Camp has Type A or B status, once Eddie Bajek starts projecting Elias rankings this year.
- Role players John McDonald, Jose Molina, and Corey Patterson are also eligible for free agency.
Contract Options (5)
- Aaron Hill: $8MM club option for 2012, $8MM club option for '13. It's too early to say whether Hill can return to his '09 or '07 form and compel the Jays to pick up one or both of his options.
- Jason Frasor: $3.75MM club option. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos created flexibility for his 2012 bullpen by getting club options for Frasor, Rauch, and Dotel in the same range. After the season we'll see who's worth keeping around.
- Jon Rauch: $3.75MM club option with a $250K buyout.
- Octavio Dotel: $3.5MM club option with a $750K buyout.
- Edwin Encarnacion: $3.5MM club option with a $500K buyout. If Encarnacion happens to pop 30 home runs for the first time in his career, the Jays can retain him at a bargain price.
Arbitration Eligible (9)
- First time: Jesse Carlson, Jo-Jo Reyes, Jayson Nix
- Second time: Yunel Escobar, Brandon Morrow, Jesse Litsch
- Third time: Carlos Villanueva, Casey Janssen, Dustin McGowan
The first-timers won't necessarily make it to the point of being tendered contracts. Escobar, Morrow, Litsch, Villanueva, and Janssen seem to be the locks here.
2012 Payroll Obligation
The Blue Jays' 2012 payroll obligation excluding buyouts is $29.9MM, according to Cot's. Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, and Ricky Romero account for most of that. The club options are mostly unknowns at this point; the obligation could range from a couple million for buyouts to $22.5MM if everyone stays. I'll use $15MM as a ballpark figure for the key arbitration eligible players, putting the team around $47MM if all options are declined. The Blue Jays have kept payroll over $70MM for quite some time, so there's room to exercise some of the options and join the bidding for a few significant free agents.