Follow the money: Blue Jays eliminate “Flex Packs” and introduce “Game Packs”

Game Packs
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Via a press release the Blue Jays announced today that they’re doing away with their popular “Flex Pack” program, and replacing it with something they’re calling “Game Packs.”

Flex Packs, of course, had a whole lot of the “flex” taken out of them last winter, when fans were forced to choose games up front. However, while they used to be able to take two seats for certain games, four for others, etc., the new plan seems to be more rigid.

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Such specifics aren’t terribly important unless you’re a Flex Pack holder — which I was this year, though like many others I’ve been pushed towards season tickets in 2017, as is entirely the Jays’ aim, one assumes — or if you’re thinking of being a Game Pack or season ticket holder. (One difference is that, according to the club’s ticket sales site, only the first 8,000 purchasers of 20 game Game Packs will get access to 2018 playoff tickets, and they’ll only be able to buy a maximum of eight).

What seems far more interesting is what this means about money, and where things are going with this team and this franchise.

And I’d like to write a bunch of words about that! I won’t, though, because it turns out that I already tweeted a bunch of words on it. And rather than direct you to my feed — because, oh lord, don’t waste your time reading my dumb feed! — or just leave all that stuff buried, here are some of the highlights from the back and forth I had on the subject earlier this afternoon (before my day got derailed by a particularly stubborn Shapiro/Payroll truther — i.e. one at least as particularly stubborn as me).

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And so we are… pretty much where we always are: wary of what Rogers is asking of fans and hopeful, but unsure, of what sort of payroll parameters the club will be operating under going forward. But with a few key differences.

For one, the writing is on the wall with respect to the way the franchise sees the market and thinks it can take advantage of it. They have an in-demand product and they’re charging like they expect it to stay that way. That doesn’t mean like they’re going to spend to keep it that way, but — and this is a total guess — I think that if they have one more strong year on the field and at the gate, maybe then they can get away with a retooling year. Especially if they look to come back strong and spending big the year after.

Which isn’t to say it will have to come to that, but for the long-term ability to keep the cash flowing, I feel 2017 is a whole lot more crucial than 2018 — though that’s easy to say right now, and especially easy to say as a fan.

But there was something else that came up in my later conversations that I hadn’t really thought of before that maybe changes everything significantly. We all think about how much money the Jays will need to spend to replace some of the players they’re set to lose as free agents. That has been central to the worry about what the front office is going to do with this team and how realistic it is to expect them to be competitive going forward. Jose Bautista wants a shitload of money, and Michael Saunders was so valuable in the first half and is looking at a big payday of his own. But Saunders has slowed in the second half (and produced a tonne of his value in low leverage situations, it turns out), and Bautista has yet to get his season off the ground. The Blue Jays have had a very good season so far, and they’ve done it with two of their three major impending free agents contributing less than 3.0 WAR combined, according to FanGraphs, and 2.2 WAR combined according to Baseball Reference.

Which is to say: it’s maybe not even going to be all that difficult to replace their production. Replacing Edwin is a different story, but finding a way to do so — or the money to keep him — becomes a whole lot easier once you realize that the Jays have already essentially lost Jose’s bat and were fine for it. And while it’s not quite so simple as that — were he to stay we could expect Jose to be better next year, and to offset some of the regressions of his teammates — thinking about it this way makes me even less worried about some kind of bait and switch going on here. How much will the budget even have to be increased, really?

The more I think about it, the more I think there truly is no reason to believe the 2017 Blue Jays are going to take a step backwards. And shit, with the prices they’re charging, and the dynamic pricing, and the elimination of flex packs, and all that other stuff, they sure as hell had better not!