Shapiro Speaks!: Real Talk On Revenue, Rogers Centre, Donaldson, Yelich, Vlad, and More!

Mark Shapiro spoke to a collection of youth baseball coaches last weekend at Rogers Centre, and though the speech was notable for the Jays president’s passionate talk about coaching and culture — stuff that fans would love to hear, I think, if they were willing to give a chance to the person speaking it — things got especially juicy during a Q&A session that followed.

You can watch the video of speech here (for some reason WordPress can’t handle MLB.com embeds). Here, though, are what I thought were the real highlights.

On Rogers, Rogers Centre, and Revenue…

This building generates the third least amount of premium revenue of all Major League Baseball franchises. Only Oakland and Tampa have less revenue than us from premium. So, we need to update the building, we need to be getting revenue from this building we’re not getting. Our ticket prices are in the bottom third of all of Major League Baseball. A lot of it’s solvable. I think the expectation should be that when we’re where we need to be as a business that we’re in the top eight to ten payrolls every single year. That I think should to be where we are — that’s what the market justifies. I tend to not focus on not being there as an excuse. You know, we were there last year, we probably won’t be there this year because we’ll stay the same and everybody else will go up five percent. I think you’ve just got to manage against that — I’ve never felt that payroll should dictate the ability to win. Payroll does dictate the ability to sustain winning. Does that make sense? But it doesn’t dictate the ability to win. We’re working, I’m working with ownership to try to educate them and help them understand. I think those expectations from the fan base, just understanding why we’re not there now — it’s FX [foreign exchange], it’s ticket pricing, it’s the revenue the building produces, which is the first or second largest — in our case first largest source of revenue. So, some of that is adjustable and correctable over time. Some of that we’re going to always have to build a system that’s the best at identifying talent, developing talent, and building a culture that outperforms objective expectations. That’s what I control, right? So I’m focused on those things.

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A lot to take in here. The stuff about the building struggling to bring in “premium” revenue is a little alarming, but factor in the exchange rate — which Shapiro is clearly doing — and you understand that the Jays are always going to be in a weak spot relative to the teams they’re competing with. Still, to be above only the two worst stadium situations in the league? That’s ugly. But even uglier is what follows — the thing the Jays will only dance around but understandably won’t quite say — which is… uh… what is the third worst situation anyway? Maybe you could make the case it belongs to the White Sox, but the Jays are very clearly in that conversation.

The building is a problem, especially when viewed through this lens — one that ordinary fans don’t often think about. And it’s a problem that Shapiro told Future Blue Jays back in October that “the actual implementation of any upgrades is, ‘up to Rogers – where it fits in the hierarchy of their capital needs’.”

That he’s still talking about trying “to educate” ownership? Not great. To be fair, the “educate” comment wasn’t about the building, per se. But with the 2018 season fast approaching and the building looking pretty much the same as ever, it means that at the very earliest it will be Shapiro’s fourth season in charge of the club before we see any sort of significant change to the building — to the thing he’s telling us is the club’s largest source of revenue. Does that seem right to you, when the club president is identifying that as such a significant challenge? (Unsaid, of course, is that the Jays’ next biggest source of revenue — or at least one of them — is surely TV dollars, which are controlled by Rogers as well.)

“Adjustable and correctable over time,” he says. Well, let’s hope so. Shapiro at least sounds properly ambitious about where the club should be. But yeah… I don’t think a new stadium is walking through the door anytime soon.

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On Josh Donaldson (and *gulp* Tulo)…

Extensions and contracts are about sharing risk. Risk has to do with how a player performs over the length of a contract — so if you have a player who doesn’t perform anymore, he’s no longer your best player, and you’ve got to think about what that means for your ability to build a championship team around him. So Josh clearly, listen, is one of the best offensive players in the game. Period. Without a doubt. One of the most uniquely aware of his swing players I’ve ever heard talk, one of the most intelligent players I’ve ever heard, and one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever seen. Because of that, he’s going to get paid the rates that that gentleman objects to [referring to an attendee who asked about out-of-control player salaries in the previous question] — he’s going to get paid, you know, tens and tens of millions of dollars. And because of the reality of where our payroll is, we have to be careful that. If his production dips, can we still build a team around him? I’m not going to say names but we’re faced with that challenge right now, and I think we’re going to be faced with that challenge the next three years with a very big contract. So if you have two or three of those contracts, how do you build a team that contends? No matter how good that player is, how does it feel to a fan base if you’re a bad team with one good player? So it’s always about the team, it’s never about “do you want that player?” We absolutely want that player.

“I’m not going to say names but we’re faced with that challenge right now, and I think we’re going to be faced with that challenge the next three years with a very big contract.” Troy Tulowitzki’s salary each of the next three seasons: $20 million. $20 million. $14 million.

I mean, not to make this not about Donaldson, and not to pretend that what Shapiro is saying here is revolutionary or anything, but yowza. You pretty much named the name, my man!

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As for the Donaldson stuff, I’m not sure what else Shapiro can say here. But think of it like you’re him: the $23 million that will be come off the books if Donaldson walks could do a lot of good for this roster next winter — not as good as Donaldson himself, mind you, but they’ll have a ready-made replacement in Vlad Guerrero Jr. making the league minimum, which definitely helps. And the compensation pick they’d get? Though it wouldn’t be as nice as the one they got for losing Edwin Encarnación last winter (which turned into Nate Pearson) — under the new CBA the Jays are among the teams who’ll get a pick after Competitive Balance Round B, which usually means in the 75-80 range — that’s still pretty alright. Not better than having both Donaldson and Vladdy, but the Jays can hold firm on an offer and not feel like they’re taking that much of a step back. And maybe a step back is what they’ll want to do. We shall see… we shall see…

On the Upcoming Season (and the Rest of the Offseason)…

There are more ifs than I want there to be — because of age — because of the age of our position players. But if you really look at our success in 2016 — not ’15, where it was really just kind of a two month adrenaline-fuelled, incredible — the best two or three months of baseball you’ll ever see. But you look at the success we had in ’16, getting to the ALCS, and it was largely driven by our pitching staff, not by our hitters. I know we kind of are known as an offensive team, but we haven’t been that offensive team since the second half of 2015. That’s the last time we were a dominant offence. So I would say our success this year is largely predicated on our rotation being as good as it can be — which puts a lot of pressure on Aaron Sanchez coming back. If that happens I think we’ve got a chance to be a contending team.

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True. True.

Ahhh… maybe a decent fifth starter would help a bit though!

To wit:

I would say in all likelihood that we’re focussed largely on addressing pitching right now. More starting pitching depth, and having traded Dominic Leone, who was very strong for us in the ‘pen last year, hopefully trying to bolster the bullpen as well. So I would say the bulk of our attention is focussed on that, but I’m never going to give you absolutes. The nature of these jobs are you’re always looking for an opportunity to get better, and if that opportunity exists in the outfield…

Sure. Sure.

On Yelich, Vlad, and *gulp* Manny???…

Those two guys are among the best I’ve seen since Manny Ramirez, probably for me. Ross and I were talking about it — like, Manny’s the only player I can think of comparable, coming up, to what Vladdy’s doing at the age he’s doing it.

Holy awesome. Hoooooly awesome.

So doesn’t that make Vlad untouchable?

There’s always a deal. Yelich was probably as close to a deal, with $100 million in surplus value and 27 years old, with six years of control on an affordable contract — that’s about as tough a decision as you’re ever going to make, if it’s one of those guys even up for him, which it wasn’t going to be. So, there’s always a trade.

Yeah, but let’s hope not!

  • Hitmen OF

    3rd worst stadium situation in the league, and yet it’s their largest source of revenue. Tells me the TV money they are getting from Rogers given the high ratings is much less than it should be.

    • Oakville Jays

      It’s ridiculous that Shapiro is blaming the lack of ticket revenue for the Jays woes, when the team led attendance in 2017 & has raised ticket prces over he past few years. Why not disclose the TV revenue that Rogers gets for the Jays? Fans won’t pay much higher prices to watch a 75 win team.

      • justaregularjaysfan

        The jays may gave led in attendance, but they still barely made a profit. That should be worrisome, because it means that they’re bleeding money

        • Hitmen OF

          Yeah sure but if the TV money coming in is lower than it should be that’s going to lower the profit. And Jays management has no control over this, unlike most other teams that can negotiate their own contract. It’s all Rogers.

        • Oakville Jays

          The Jays have not released their financial statements . It’s part of Rogers communications. The sharp increase in franchise value estimated by Forbes shows that the team is more valuable now than it was before 2015.

      • Nice Guy Eddie

        Oakville, I know you don’t understand this because you’re incapable of understanding it, but ‘premium revenue’ refers to the revenue from the most attractive sitting venues, boxes or seats. It doesn’t matter how many people sit in the 500’s and boost the attendance as you obviously think. Seriously man, try to think for a moment and not make a fool of yourself every opportunity you get.

      • ice_hawk10

        yes, everyone knows TV revenue rules the day. what are Jays TV rights worth? then come back and try to misdirect with “premium” revenue BS.

        money is money, revenue is revenue. a couple extra luxury boxes sold is not going to pay Donaldson.

      • Wildrose

        This is only partially true – local TV revenue is audited by MLB since it’s subject to revenue sharing ( as is attendance), but teams who own a portion of their broadcasting partner have that money excluded due to the inherent risk of TV ratings ( e.g. If the Rangers who only have a 10% equity stake in their RSN tank – they still get their money regardless, if the Blue Jays collapse Rogers Sportsnet who owns a 100% portion suffers accordingly )
        “The ownership shares are incredibly important when it comes to revenue-sharing because any money gained as an owner of a network is shielded from revenue-sharing, as are the figures that MLB has provided when calculating the players’ share of revenue.”


        • Bob Canuck


          I don’t understand the relevance of your comment. The Blue Jays do not have an ownership stake in Sportsnet. Therefore, there is no money accruing to the Blue Jays through a network ownership interest that is shielded from revenue sharing.

      • ice_hawk10

        yes, but it’s a joke of a policy, and you damn well know Rogers is paying the absolute minimum. down in the basement with the shitty one horse town teams, not a team with a TV market of 36 million people.

    • Wildrose

      I’d have to agree with this Hitmen. The Blue Jays by a significant margin have the highest viewership numbers in all of baseball since they broadcast to an entire country, yet they don’t seem to reap the financial rewards that this entails.

      This is how I’d put it, the Yankees ownership first and foremost owns a baseball team and partially dabbles on an ancillary basis in broadcasting, Rogers however, is primarily a broadcaster/ cable provider who partially dabbles in baseball. For Rogers owning the baseball team is secondary ( unlike any other team in baseball) to maintaining cable subscriptions. Roger’s sees this revenue as part of Rogers Media, not as something ” that is earned ” by the baseball operation.

      • Wildrose

        Bob you have things backwards – this from the link I provided provides clarification;

        “The Toronto Blue Jays present an interesting case. They weren’t included in the graphs above. Several years ago, the Blue Jays received $36 million from their RSN, but it’s difficult to accurately discern how much they’ve received over the past few years. The Blue Jays are owned by Rogers, which entity also owns Sportsnet, the channel on which the Blue Jays appear throughout Canada. The Blue Jays are likely only receiving a portion of the television money while the rest stays with the parent company.”

        • Bob Canuck


          You are mistaken.

          First, the “… Toronto Blue Jays presents …” quote pertains to why the author excluded the RSN revenues from the graph; the author did not have the data. It does not mean that the fees paid by Sportsnet to the Blue Jays are excluded from the revenue-sharing calculation. MLB certainly has the data.

          Second, the quote, “The Blue Jays are likely only receiving a portion of the television money while the rest stays with the parent company”, is precisely why MLB audits the fees paid by Sportsnet to the Blue Jays: to ensure the rights fees are fairly valued. This would occur regardless of any ownership interest that the Blue Jays would have in a RSN. Why? Because the parent (Rogers) controls both the RSN (Sportsnet) and the ball club (Blue Jays) and may have corporate reasons to direct Sportsnet to pay below-market rights fees to the Blue Jays.

          Third, as I noted in my original comment, the exclusion of the monies attributed to a ball club’s ownership of a RSN from the revenue-sharing calculation does not apply here because the Blue Jays have a 0% ownership stake in a RSN (Sportsnet).

          Fourth, the Fangraph’s article that you reference shows the complications that arise when a team has an ownership stake in the RSN. The example is the Yankees. The Yankees have reduced their ownership stake in the YES Network such that “… the Yankees are voicing their displeasure about revenue-sharing given that much of their revenue used to be sheltered from the rest of MLB through the network, but those sheltered revenues have been decreasing.” There is nothing in the FanGraphs article to suggest that the Blue Jays have the same revenue-sharing calculation issue.

          • Wildrose

            The generic Bob Canuck sounds suspiciously like ” Joe the Plumber ” or the mythical ” Bernard the Roughneck ” the actor the conservatives love to trot out – let’s be honest ” Rogers Media Flunky ” would be a more appropriate moniker.

            At any rate I certainly don’t want to give the impression that the Blue Jays don’t pay anything in terms of local broadcast money into shared revenue, I’m sure the Colorado based auditors, MLB and Rogers have an agreed upon sum that all parties have agreed upon. This sum however, would reflect the risk that Rogers incurs as the team’s broadcaster . It should be noted that when most new broadcasting deals are announced, that usually the team takes an equity stake in the RSN – this is done to shield revenue. The Blue Jays with their unique ownership structure provides quite the challenge for MLB.

            Bob ( ? ) , I’m quite familiar with the Yankee’s situation, and in fact it reinforces the gist of my post. In 2014 the Steinbrenner’s heirs sold their majority stake in the lucrative Yes network to Fox Sports , but retained a 20% interest. Off course their now pissed as they have to share more local revenue since they decreased their ownership share of their own broadcaster.

            I’ll let the readers determine if some sort of ownership relationship exists between Rogers Sportsnet and the baseball club.

          • ice_hawk10

            no, they do not ensure that the TV rights are fairly valued. they ensure that they meet a minimum level, which is a joke compared to the true value of Jays rights.

  • CannedLizard

    The way Shapiro couched his revenue comments as low “premium revenue” sounds like he’s talking about the sales mix. Not enough box sales and the like. Anyone with more knowledge the I about sports ticket sales want to shed some light?

    • Kockneykid

      For instance – they have no premium dugout boxes, they have no premium group boxes. Jays had a primitive pricing structure before Shapiro got in, he instituted dynamic pricing but it takes years to produce margin return. I won’t talk about the inadequacy of their concession & merchandising operations, too depressing for words. Oh, and parking ….

  • dolsh

    “that’s about as tough a decision as you’re ever going to make, if it’s one of those guys even up for him”

    I thought the rumour was that it was Vlad for Yelich. To give up more than Vlad for Yelich? Really happy for how it turned out.

  • Guzman's Jheri Curl

    Pretty surprising how blatant he was re Tulo. Sure he wishes he had a mulligan on that one. Or maybe he wanted to remind fans that his predecessor stuck the team with a bloated albatross contract in Tulo and the inability to pay JD what he will command will be tied to those “all-in” decisions fans still view through rose coloured glasses?

    • ErnieWhitt

      To me this sounds like the same type of payroll spin we’ve heard for a long time.. sure Tulo’s contract is rough but many teams deal with worse. I’m not advocating for crazy trades but Boston has ditched a tonne of money in the past and so have the Yankees recently. Obviously not the same situation but getting creative can help. If we’re going to hear for the next 3 years that same line “we’d love to do x or y but we have such a tough contract..” then it’s going to be a rough time for fans. Things aren’t going to be perfect. Boston probably has no premium revenue. That stadium is 100 years old and wretched.

      • bocajacob

        How exactly is it payroll spin? Martin and Tulo’s contract and the state of the team’s overall makeup and depth chart in the system has been an achilles heel in terms of committing more long term $s on new players over the last couple of years. Mentioning Boston and New York does nothing to remedy the situation especially since both those teams have better revenue streams in terms of gate receipts. Also, both those teams have in fact experienced difficulties due to the long term/poor production nature of contracts similar to Tulo’s. Both those teams eventually eventually got out from under the burden’s by GRADUATING YOUNG TALENT. Both teams have seen a resurgence not because of free agent signings, but because of the graduation of high end talent. Also, it’s important to be aware that Boston did go trough a tough period in ’14 and ’15 prior to their ascension, thanks mostly to young talent.

        • ErnieWhitt

          It’s spin because it doesn’t matter the specifics. As soon as they solve one problem there will be a different excuse. Loads of teams have expensive contracts. It may even make sense not to extend Donaldson, I just don’t buy the problem the Jays face is in any way related to premium revenue or Tulo. They could spend more, they choose not to. Might even be the right choice, but the excuses are lame and always have been.

          • Deener32

            The reason blaming Tulo and Martin is ridiculous is because they are really short(er) term issues. Donaldson’s first year of his next contract will be martin’s last at 20 million, and it will also be the last year of Tulo at 20 (he goes down to 14 the year after).

            Martin/Tulo don’t have the greatest contracts, but we are talking about one year of major overlap before those deals are more or less cleared off the books.

        • drunk man walking

          this is nonsense. The Jays went to the ALCS in 2015 because they had GRADUATING YOUNG TALENT in Stroman, Sanchez, Osuna, Pillar, Loup, Cecil, Goins (his only 1+WAR year) Pompey (who stole a few key bases, all Jays drafts and still in pre FA years, and despite the fact that they had Buehrle, and Reyes under $20M underperforming contracts and a payroll almost $50M less than we have now. I don’t care what you think about this but these issues are never black and white. And for heavens sake don’t start with the they are just pitchers stuff. We are planning to compete this year primarily on the backs of our pitching staff which is relatively dirt cheap because there are so many ex Jays prospects who have back stopped our rotation and pen. .

      • ice_hawk10

        yep. even Stoeten can see that.

        the dumb thing is that the $54mill over 3 years that Tulo has remaining is pretty much the going rate for average MLB players now. now if Tulo was a FA today he definitely wouldn’t get that (he might get $7-10mill on a 1 year pillow contract), but still, the idea that in today’s game it’s some kind of otherworldly sum is just not true. it’s not 2006 anymore.

  • Pramit

    If they make an offer to JD (which seems unlikely) it’ll probably involve backloading money.

    What’s funny is that Shapiro is actually a lot more forthcoming about the challenges that they face unlike he predecessor and his “They’ve given us everything we’ve asked for” answer.

    • Jays of Thunder

      I agree, these comments are way more informative about the actual factors impacting the team than Beeston ever was. It exposes Shapiro because it give more details for people to criticize, but I get the sense he’s confident enough in his positions that he’ll just put them on the table and be ok if reasonable people disagree, and non-plussed if unreasonable people do.

    • Wuckin'Pa'Nub

      This entire concept of backloading is not a free lunch . In fact it makes the player much harder to move if the organization sees fit at a later date. You’re better off paying out the contract in increments that most closely match player production so the contact is much more mobile

    • Knuckleballs

      I heard last week Atkins was at a pitch talks and he did communicate when asked that numbers and contract extension has been communicated to JDs agent. But no response from JDs agent

  • Kockneykid

    For instance – they have no premium dugout boxes, they have no premium group boxes. Jays had a primitive pricing structure before Shapiro got in, he instituted dynamic pricing but it takes years to produce margin return. I won’t talk about the inadequacy of their concession & merchandising operations, too depressing for words. Oh, and parking ….

    • Guzman's Jheri Curl

      Exactly. Most of the boxes at the dome have viewing angles no better than the flight deck. Free nacho chips with fake cheese make it totally worth it tho

  • Simba Lane

    I have no idea if he’s good at running a baseball team or not but every time he opens his mouth I hate him more. Why toss Tulo under the bus like that?

  • GeorgeBell's batting eye

    Honestly what a pile of steaming horse shit. The highest attendance in the AL, a NATIONAL TV Deal and the 3 largest REGIONAL market with over 60 million in contracts coming off the books after the 2018 season and you can’t sign Donaldson? Fuck off. I know most Americans think its cute that we have baseball up here in the Great White North and we know squat about the game but seriously stop insulting our intelligence. The only reason the Jays cannot sign Donaldson is if they don’t want to. They just got 50 million dollars from MLB this year and are going into the season with a lower payroll than last year. What is the max Donaldson is going to make per season. 35 million? that still leaves them with 25 million that comes off the books plus the 10 million that is still not spent this year. Add in that if you sign Donaldson you probably trade/decline the option on Smoak and can move/decline the option on Solarte to free up another 9 million. Not to mention trading Pillar so you can dress a league minimum salary in Center field plus trading Osuna and there is no way you can tell me you cannot sign Donaldson. I agree with Cox that the Jays don’t have a Demar. They have a Donaldson! I get that the Tulo contract is not for full value but to use it as an excuse to not sign Donaldson is just spin to keep the natives quiet. But then everyone sit back and enjoy your Toronto Indians. Farm team to the MLB.

    • Ethan Kelly

      Way to just disregard everything that was said. Also, 60 million in Contracts coming off the books in 2018??? https://www.reddit.com/r/Torontobluejays/comments/7t06gu/why_is_not_signingextending_donaldson_even_being/dt8zwkv/
      Please read that comment if you wanna understand why it’s not necessarily prudent to give JD a huge extension. As was kinda said by Shapiro here, I’m sure they could extend JD, but if his production declines, it will put the team in a situation where it’s even more difficult for them to compete, as that 30 odd million could be spread out to improve other areas of the team. Now this wouldn’t be as big a deal if they weren’t already have that exact dilemma with Tulo’s contract, as well as Martin and Morales to a lesser extent. While I’m not necessarily saying I don’t want them to extend Donaldson, I hate the mentality of “they’re rich and he’s really good right now so there’s no excuse”.

    • bocajacob

      Great! 60 million coming off the books. Meanwhile, Smoak needs a raise of 2 million, Stroman, Snachez, Osuna, Travis, Grichuk, Barnes, Tepera, Pillar…all get raises. Then you have the fact that 60 million off the books also means losing both Happ and Estrada. So, really, it’s not 60 million off the books.

      Also, why exactly are you so quick to not renewing or moving Smoak, Solarte and Osuna?!?! What’s the point in giving Donaldson 30 million dollars if you are going to remove talent from the team? Those guys have good team friendly price tags.

      Seams the only pile of horse shit is your ability to do any kind of critical thinking when it comes to roster building or math.

      • GeorgeBell's batting eye

        Here is some Critical thinking for the simple minded.
        Roster for 2019 with estimated salaries from Cot or potential from ARB

        1st base Vladdy/Tellez league minimum
        2nd Base D. Travis 3-4 million max and that is if he is an all star
        SS Tulo 20 million
        3 rd Base Donaldson 35 million lets give him the max
        Catcher Martin and warm body 20 million and League minimum
        Back up infielders Diaz 2 mil, Guerriel 2 mil, Urena league minimum Bichette League minimum
        DH Morales 12 million
        total for the infield is approx 97 million total

        LF Alford, T Hernandez, DSJ and random warm body league minimum
        CF Alford, T Hernandez randon warm body
        RF Girchuk 5 million tops
        Outfield cost 7 million

        Starting Rotation
        Stroman 12 million
        Sanchez 5 million max and that is if he wins the Cy Young
        Joe Biagini 2 million maybe I am thinking less
        Madison Baumgartner 30 million (why not dream still have the budget)
        Marco Estrada 15 million lets give him a raise

        Starting rotation Total 64 million

        Bullpen all at the league minimum but Tempera and lets say he is an allstar so he gets 2 million.
        Bullpen Total 5 million
        Grand total of 173 million only 8 million more than what is estimated for this year’s payroll less than a 5 % increase in payroll which has been the average increase for the past 5 years. This is with giving Donaldson 35 and 30 million to Baumgarter. So tell me again how they cannot afford to sign Donaldson or they cannot keep talent on the roster?
        you are not resigning Osuna after the 2020 Season no matter what contracts you have and his highest value for trade is at the end of next season. The Blue jays also have a pile of young,cheap effective Bullpen arms. If you sign Donaldson you cut Smoak loose as you have a position crunch. Donaldson is either a 3rd baseman or 1st baseman. Solarte is an expensive bench player after this year when you have 3 players who will be MLB ready in 2019 to back up both 2nd base and SS. Pilar will get squeezed out of CF simply because his bat will no longer play and they have players in the system that can provide similar defensive with more offensive upside. I added the Baumgartner and Estrada signing just to show that there is approx. 45 million available to spend on pitching if needed. IF you can move Morales and a significant portion of his money then you have even more. This also doesn’t put one player acquired via trades on the 25 man roster. Osuna,Smoak, Pilar and Solarte can bring back significant talent to flesh out the roaster with cheap talent.

        So tell me again about math and roster composition?

        • The Humungus

          Who are they giving to San Fran to get Bumgarner?

          Because he’s not a free agent until after 2019.

          Also, if Sanchez wins the Cy, he’ll get at least a $4M bump in arb. Especially with Boras as his agent.

          And you have them trading Smoak, Pillar, Osuna and Solarte? You’re saying they’ll be competitive with a bullpen full of league minimum scrubs and an OF where Grichuk is your best player?

          Man, you suck at roster composition.

        • bocajacob

          “So tell me again about math and roster composition”

          LOL!!! So now you’ve taken a strength, the BP and reduced it to a bunch of nobodies at a league minimum (I’m assuming since everyone in this year’s BP would get more than the minimum next year) and with zero depth. Tepera replaces Osuna as closer? Who replaces Tepera? Wow, you consider this critical thinking, good use of math and good roster construction? Compiling a limited and inexperienced BP without a real closer?!

          Now, I see you’ve elevated several young players to full time duty to back up your argument as if these are all productive moves both for the club and team. Having infielders Tellez, Vlad jr., Bichette, Urena and Gurriel jr all graduate to the big league roster in 2019 is not viable and definitely not good roster management!

          Then you have a horrific OF in terms of experience and talent level (league minimum backups?) and you make the assumption that both Teoscar and Alford are true MLB full timers even though neither has proven it.

          Then you have the rotation, whith your fanasy centerpiece of Baumgartner, where you decide to throw away 30 million dollars on a player even though you have a roster that will guarantee you consistent losing.

          Also, I see you compiled a payroll of 173 million for 25-26 players. You do understand that over the course of an entire season, the team’s payroll includes more than 25 players right?

          “So tell me again how they cannot afford to sign Donaldson or they cannot keep talent on the roster?”

          What you just did kid was jettison most of the experienced talent in favour of stacking the team with players that are still MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS! Gurriel jr, Bichette, Vlad jr, Urena, Hernandez, Alford, DSJ, a BP of nobodies, Tepera as your closer, Biagini a starter, a warm body as back up OF…this is the makeup of your 2019 team? This is what you call CRITICAL THINKING?! This is called fantasy. THis isn’t PS4.

          Try again, only this time try to be realistic and non fantastical in terms of your roster. Also, try to give your team a chance to win games and deal with injuries.

          Team finally develops depth all over the diamond and you want to jettison that in the hopes of throwing 105 million dollars on 4 players!!!!
          LOL!!! Horseshit.

  • CM

    Interesting but a lot of spin too. #1 al attendance, tv ratings as high as any MLB club that includes yanks and dodgers. Just because Rogers doesn’t pay a market rate just means they are shortchanging their own product quality. It’s the anti entertainment business way to run a sports team and more of a cost cutter, grind a mfg business way to run a team. Hate how he threw Tulo under the bus. And furthermore bosox just ate pandas deal they don’t make an excuse but not wanting to sign a price or get a sale. George bell batting eye has a point. Just a small market way to run the team. We may all dislike/ disagree with Shapiro but really Rogers wears the blame. Wish the team would be sold and the tv contract bid out at market rate. And new ownership ran it like they were in the sports entertainment business. Not running a low margin industrial business.

    • bocajacob

      Boston’s willingness to jettison has quite a bit to do with the makeup of the team as well as having Rafael Devers ready to take over. Also, people that site Boston forget all to easily that they refused to take on EE and his high price tag because of their payroll situation. I’m sure, not owing Sandoval would have made EE more palpable.

      But yeah, I’m sure Rogers doesn’t want to spend 20 million a year for 3 years for a player not to play.

    • Oakville Jays

      It’s hilarious that Shapiro thinks he can squeeze more dollars out of the fanbase by raising ticket prices while putting a “compete for a wildcard spot at best” product on the field. I would suspect that pre season ticket sales are significantly lower than 2017. How can they convince companies to pay more for luxury suites?

  • Seguaro

    The Dome is garbage and not in keeping with this amazing city. Although I watch or listen to 95% of Jays games every year, I never attend. Free attendance and beer from home find me at Christie Pits most Sundays and the odd Wednesday.

    • Wuckin'Pa'Nub

      Shapiro is playing semantics here . He’s using the term “premium revenue” and people are interpreting this as revenue . Revenue is revenue. While they may collect a lower percentage from “premium sources” than other teams , this tells you nothing about total revenue.

      Sure it’s true than in an affluent market like TO, the club is “leaving meat on the bone “ by not efficiently exploiting potential premium revenue sources , it’s a bit disingenuous to draw parallels between the jays and Oakland

      • ErnieWhitt

        This is a great point. “Premium Revenue” isn’t an actual thing. It is a categorization for analysis purposes. Sure, if they can figure that other teams earn a higher percentage of their revenue from “premium” sources they can make a case internally that there is opportunity for growth (assuming “non-premium” revenue remains in tact – which should they be assuming this?). That opportunity is then measured as an actual lack of revenue which for analysis purposes is educational, but in reality doesn’t exist. I could, for example, have invested in Bitcoin, and sold at its peak. Having not done that, should I then talk about how much money I lost in Bitcoin? Not a perfect analogy certainly, but Shapiro is posing an accounting issue as a legitimate barrier to the club’s success. Should they do something about their luxury boxes, and premium seats? Probably. Should that be an impediment to signing a guy like Donaldson if they in fact would prefer to sign him long term? Not a chance.

        • The Humungus

          I think they’re more talking about the sales mix, in the sense that right now, the mix is not efficient in terms of maximizing revenue. So, the stadium may be “sold out”, but it’s doing so in a way that leaves dollars on the table.

          I’m sure part of this is a deal with Aramark that is likely less favourable to the team than the team owning/licensing the concessions themselves could be.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the “premium” revenue he’s talking about is more in the area of what can be generated beyond ticket sales, not specifically about the sales themselves.

          • drunk man walking

            Thinking about what you say here. I’m wondering about how much the attendance situation impacts the sorts of contracts Aramark signs on for. Would there be a premium for the sold out situation, which probably was not even considered when the deal was signed. Don’t know this. But the money left on the table argument leaves me a bit cold. The big money obviously is has been associated with performance. The premium money, dynamic pricing gains etc all depend on attendance in general, unless we are now assuming that it is no longer associated with team record going forward and we are now essentially the Angels, who’s fans seem to show up no matter how poorly they play.

          • The Humungus

            It would all be in the cost-benefit analysis.

            My rational for my thinking is that Beeston, who was, to put it kindly, a bit out of touch in terms of modern baseball stadium revenue streams, thought that the best solution was to do something like the Queen Street grill, which still serves stadium food.

            But, if you go to other ballparks, especially ones with a more unique feel, you have local chains in their really showcasing the fare. Cincinnati has Skyline Chili vendors; Pittsburgh has Primanti Brothers; etc.

            Add that in to the extremely restrictive beer sales contract that keeps local products out (Brickworks, for all it’s glory, is a subsidiary of AB-InBev, just like all the rest), and these are the types of things that he’s likely talking about.

            Because Rogers owns the stadium as well, it would be easy for them to significantly increase the revenue simply by keeping the profits out of Aramark’s hand and putting it into their own.

  • Kris

    A few things:

    Donaldson – The main reason that the off-season has been so slow for free agents is because of the growing hesitation among front office when it comes to handing big contracts to players in their mid-30s. So in the post steroid era the Yankees and Dodgers would be having the same discussions the Jays are having now. Do they want to give 100 to 150 million over the next 5 years for Donaldson’s age 33 to age 38. I think it best to wait and make a judgement call on next season. If he has a great season then look at bringing him back. Next off-season will be packed for top level talent and Donaldson because of his age may not get the years he wants.

    Premium revenue – Some people are overacting to this statement, it is a factor where the Jays are weaker than most other teams and something he wants to address. MLB team payroll data jumps around depending on site but most puts the Jays in the top 10 (highest as top 5 on some sites). The Jays ‘ revenue is very good but he is saying it could be better. And if they are able to address the premium revenue issue would make a better case for higher payrolls.

    TV revenue/sportsnet – It is a non-issue in my book, it really doesn’t matter where the TV revenues are counted. The Jays/Rogers/Sportsnet are all one team in the end. So if Sportsnet is making a few extra dollars over the Jays it doesn’t matter, it just means Rogers is running the Jays at a lost for the benefit of other Rogers’s assets. I am sure Rogers knows how much the Jays TV deal is worth to the Jays and factors that into their budget. They would be stupid not to.

    • Wildrose

      If you want accurate payroll data , just go to Cot’s, it’s the gold standard.


      Using the 40 man year end data ( which MLB uses to determine luxury tax compliance ), Toronto has ranked 14 overall the past 2 years in payroll expenditure.

      He more or less states the payroll will not increase in 2018 the usual 5% ( the general inflation rate in baseball the past 20 years) and be frozen at last years level. Depending on how other teams react, in terms of overall spending, Toronto might drop lower than fourteenth overall in 2018 vis a viz their peers.

      • Kris

        Yes I know about COT but for this discussion you should rank teams by team’s 2017 MLB payroll not the one used for the luxury tax.

        The luxury tax one use an average of a MLB salary not his current salary. So signing bonuses or backloaded deals can effect that number IE so if player A signs a deal with a 20 million 4 year deal with a 6 million signing bonus his luxury tax salary would be 6.5 not 5 million even though the 6 million bonus was already paid out.

        Here is an quote
        “Payrolls are for 40-man rosters and include averages of multiyear contracts; health and pension benefits; clubs medical costs; insurance; workman’s compensation, payroll, unemployment and Social Security taxes; spring training allowances; meal and tip money; All-Star game expenses; travel and moving expenses; postseason pay; and college scholarships.”

        Look at the Nationals on COT they have almost the same MLB payroll as the Jays but are 5th for the tax payroll. Scherzer for the tax payroll makes 28.6 million but under MLB payroll tab it is 22.2 million. So the Nationals are paying 22 million this year not just under 29.

        But sadly COT doesn’t rank the non luxury tax payroll. But I can tell you for sure there is not 13th teams ahead of the Jays for 25 man roster payroll.

  • IMW

    That first section makes me think that Mark Shapiro is going to get frustrated and leave us sooner than later.
    When you look at what he said a couple of years ago about why he came here, and you look at what was talked about as some of the reasons why he was being brought here, and then you look at what he’s saying now about the realities of his job… my reaction is to see a man who took a job that wasn’t what he expected/hoped it to be.
    I say this from experience, as a person who’s felt that way before and who’s managed people who have felt that way.
    Of course I’m trying to read a lot from only printed quotes, but I think it’s very possible that I’m right.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      I think there is no doubt that Mark Shapiro will leave within a relatively short window. He was hired to create an organization – player development, revenue development, health betterment, minor league and spring training facilities, improved scouting and analytics – to replace the shoestring operation that existed before in a small baseball market. He’s a Princeton grad and one of baseball’s most respected executives. He and his family actually moved to Toronto, unlike Ricciardi for example, a minor cross-checker that Toronto internet once considered a ‘star’. Of course he’ll leave. Couple all that with the hicktown abuse he takes from envious local hicks who think it’s a big deal he was at Cleveland, where he built a front office dynasty, and doesn’t deserve “Big Market Toronto”, which has the second cheapest premium seats in baseball after Oakland, and the smallest ST facility which they fail annually to fill.

  • breasteve

    This feels like a PR seed to lower payroll once Donaldson, Martin, and Tulo exit. Justification is need to go with home grown talent; get younger and more athletic. Which I’m fine with provided they are good enough to contend for playoffs every season.

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      This feels like the kind of ‘anti-Shapiro dumb’ that’s common on Blue Jay message boards. It’s common because it requires investing no time to actually think, and it’s rewarded by seal clapping from others who do the same.

  • Wildrose

    I’d really recommend people listen to the whole video segment ( excellent find Stoeten). Shapiro looked very comfortable – this wasn’t the local media he was dealing with , so I found him to be very relaxed and open. He touched on a lot of other subjects, which I’m sure Andrew will elaborate on if he has time, this seminar was very informative.