Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro discussed his organization’s financial situation in a chat with MLB.com’s Gregor Chisolm (links to Twitter). The veteran baseball executive commented upon a few matters of both near and long-term interest.
Most immediately, Shapiro made clear that the Jays haven’t tapped into all of their available 2019 payroll. Per Shapiro, “It’s just a question of where and when do these opportunities present themselves and, if we do bring in veteran players, how [sic] is that offset our ability to continue to foster and develop the younger core talent on the team?” It would be a bit of a surprise to see the Toronto organization make any significant expenditures the rest of the winter, given that the team has largely eschewed financial commitments this offseason, though it’s interesting to see an acknowledgement that there’s more funding available.
Broadly, the organization is preparing for a point — not too far in the future, it surely hopes — when it makes sense to ramp up spending. Per Shapiro, “there is a multi-year plan in place” regarding spending, with “an understanding of where we are now and an understanding of where we’re going to go” once the club is back “at the brink of contention.”
When and how that build-up will occur isn’t clear. But there should be ample room to work with when the time comes. The Jays opened each of the prior two campaigns with over $160MM in payroll commitments. The club sits in the $115MM range at present for 2019, with just over $30MM in total commitments past that point on its books.
There’ll be a time, Shapiro says, when “payroll will outpace our revenues.” The baseball operations department doesn’t need to stash cash now to make that possible, though. Shapiro says the organization doesn’t plot out specific future payroll levels and allow its ops unit to save funding space for the future. Rather, there’s “a mutual and common understanding of what the general plan looks like.”
Shapiro also discussed the revenue side. After generally defending the television rights-fee agreement between the Blue Jays and Sportsnet (also owned by Rogers Communications) and noting some differences between the Canadian and American TV markets, Shapiro said the bottom line is that there’s ample money to be made selling baseball in Toronto. “I don’t think there is any excuse or reason why we shouldn’t have among the best revenues when we’re the team that we need to be,” he said. “That’s already been demonstrated materially in the last few years.”