Toronto Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston expects the team’s payroll to rise in 2015. Beeston joined Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The FAN Friday and said the team expects to spend more than $135-137 million on its roster.
“You know it’s going higher next year,” Beeston said.
He repeated that the Rogers ownership group has been “absolutely terrific” and said he can “flat out guarantee” that financial restrictions didn’t prevent the Blue Jays from taking on star players at the July 31 trade deadline. He added that the Blue Jays could have secured the cash to trade for pitchers such as Jon Lester and David Price if such deals had made sense from a baseball standpoint.
Beeston repeated that the Blue Jays would “love to” re-sign Melky Cabrera. There appears to be mutual interest in a new contract, which “should put you in the deal zone,” in Beeston’s view.
Blue Jays players agreed to defer salary to make a serious bid for right-hander Ervin Santana during spring training, which suggests ownership did not provide general manager Alex Anthopoulos with payroll flexibility early in the season.
Still, Blue Jays decision makers say years are more of a concern than dollars when it comes to signing major contracts.
“Our five year policy is still firmly in place,” Anthopoulos said before the season’s final game. “That’s not going to change. But I still believe even with that, you could still be very competitive.”
‘I’M HERE’: Beeston acknowledged that he’s technically in the last year of his contract with the Blue Jays, but indicated that he intends to stay on in his current role.
“I’m here as long as Rogers wants me here,” he said. “I enjoy what I’m doing.”
Beeston, a Blue Jays employee from day one, oversaw the team’s two World Series championships in 1992 and 1993. He worked as MLB’s president from 1997-2002 then returned to the Blue Jays in 2008.
“We all know how these work in sports. If they don’t want you here, they’re going to tell you, and if you don’t want to be here, you’re going to leave. It’s as simple as that,” he said.
“I have no intention at the present time of changing what I’ve got,” he added. “But for how long [it lasts] I have no idea.”
VOTE OF CONFIDENCE: Beeston endorsed the work of his GM and said the Blue Jays continue heading in the right direction. While the Blue Jays have yet to make the playoffs under Anthopoulos, Beeston confirmed that his general manager will return.
“Alex I can say for a fact is back,” Beeston said.
The Blue Jays had an up and down season that saw them claim first place in the AL East early then struggle down the stretch and finish third in the division, but Beeston likes what he sees from the players Anthopoulos has obtained.
“He hasn’t finished what he started out to do,” Beeston said. “I’m 100 percent supportive of him. I think he has done a very good job and I think we’re now seeing the benefits of what happened with his investment in the farm system.”
Manager John Gibbons is also expected to return in 2015 after leading the team to an 83-79 finish. “I think you can read into that,” Beeston said.
ALL-STAR BID: The Blue Jays plan to have new turf in place at Rogers Centre in 2015, and they’re hoping to have grass in place by 2018. Could that lead to an All-Star bid for a team that last hosted the mid-summer classic in 1991?
“There’s a plan to make a request absolutely,” Beeston said.
Adding grass presents many engineering challenges such as ensuring adequate air flow, but the Blue Jays are working to make it possible. Playing on turf takes a toll on players’ bodies, so changing the playing surface wouldn’t just be a cosmetic adjustment.