MLB Trade Rumours released their annual projections for salary arbitration on Wednesday so we can start to get a better idea of what the Blue Jays’ payroll will look like heading into 2020.
Ken Giles – $8.4MM
Ken Giles’ dominant season has him projected to earn $8.4 million in arbitration. The Blue Jays will obviously tender Giles, but there’s no guarantee he’ll be back with the team next season. Giles is set to become a free agent for the first time his career next winter and it’s no secret that the team tried to trade him prior to the trade deadline.
Maybe we see Giles dealt in the off-season for a team that needs an elite bullpen arm or maybe the Jays to wait and try and find a better deal at the 2020 trade deadline. The latter could put them in a difficult situation in terms of optics. If the team hits the ground running with Bo, Vlad, Biggio, Gurriel, and other youngsters playing well, they might not be terrible. It isn’t a good look to the players on the team or the fans buying tickets to deal Giles as the team is starting to win games.
Anyways, that’s a topic for another day.
Matt Shoemaker – $3.8MM
Though Matt Shoemaker’s 2019 season lasted only five starts, he certainly made an impression. Shoemaker, who was non-tendered by the Angels last winter, put up a sparkling 1.57 ERA over 28 2/3 innings before his season was ended due to a freak injury.
Shoemaker has already made it clear he wants to stick around in Toronto and it seems like a no-brainer for the Blue Jays to bring the veteran back for at least another season. His one-year arbitration figure of $3.8 million is easily palatable, but the Jays could opt to non-tender him and work out a multi-year deal that costs them less annually. Given Shoemaker’s injury history, it wouldn’t be surprising if he opted to take the security.
Brandon Drury – $2.5MM
This is a really tough one to predict. Brandon Drury showed some really nice flashes last year and he’s can certainly provide value as a versatile bench player, but $2.5 million might be a little rich for that role. Drury only managed to post a .642 OPS last season and he hasn’t looked like anything more than a replacement-level player since he was in Arizona.
Given how shrewd the Jays are with asset management, I’m not sure they would non-tender Drury, but it also really wouldn’t be shocking either. It might be time to see if Richard Urena or even Santiago Espinal can play in this role instead.
Devon Travis – $1.95MM
I think it might be the end of the road for Devon Travis. It’s been heartbreaking to watch a very promising career to a really likable player get completely derailed due to injuries, but that’s where we’re at. Travis will be 29 years old in February and missed all of 2019 due to a knee injury.
The Jays will need to open room on their 40-man roster to protect some prospects from the Rule 5 draft and it’s hard to imagine Travis will be tendered. Maybe he comes back on a minor-league deal. Who knows. Wherever he ends up, I hope Travis can stay on the field and pull it back together.
Ryan Tepera – $1.6MM
Though he didn’t pitch much last season, Ryan Tepera was one of Toronto’s most reliable relievers in 2017 and 2018. I can’t imagine them letting him go especially when his price tag won’t be very big. The Jays don’t have very many veteran options for the bullpen, so keeping Tepera around seems logical.
Derek Law – $1.3MM
The same logic for Tepera applies to Derek Law. The Jays need all the veteran help they can get in the bullpen and Derek Law provides that at a cheap cost. Law was actually pretty good for the Blue Jays when Ken Giles was injured and he was thrust into high-leverage situations.
Luke Maile – $800K
It seems as though Luke Maile has lost his job in Toronto. Reese McGuire showed in his late-season call-up that he’s ready for the Major Leagues and if the Jays opt to roll with a McGuire and Danny Jansen tandem, Maile will be the odd man out. The Jays could opt to start McGuire in Triple-A to give him more reps, in which case Maile would be a possibility as a cheap, veteran backup catcher. But given his .151/.205/.235 slash line, the Jays might look elsewhere.
Ryan Dull – $800K
A late-season waiver pick-up, Ryan Dull might be a reclamation project next year, but he might also get let go in the 40-man roster shuffle. Who knows!
Assuming the Jays tender Giles, Shoemaker, Drury, Tepera, and Law, they’ll be adding a modest ~$17.6 million in salary to a team that only has two players with actual salary commitments in 2020. If Giles does end up getting moved before the season, there will be a lot of room for flexibility this winter. Go sign some players, please.