Blue Jays backload five-year deal with Martin

Russell Martin. (Gene Puskar/AP)

The Toronto Blue Jays officially announced their five-year, $82 million contract with free agent catcher Russell Martin Tuesday, but a detail that the team didn’t announce could have a significant impact on how the rest of the off-season unfolds.

The deal is backloaded so that Martin will earn just $7 million in 2015, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported Tuesday. The Canadian backstop will then earn $15 million in 2016 and $20 million per season from 2017-19. That structure should provide general manager Alex Anthopoulos with ample flexibility to continue re-shaping the Blue Jays.

Including Martin’s $7 million salary, the Blue Jays now have approximately $110 million committed to their 2015 payroll. Raises for arbitration eligible players such as Brett Lawrie and Brett Cecil will push that figure to an estimated $127 million (or over $129 million if Juan Francisco is tendered a contract).

That leaves Anthopoulos approximately $10 million shy of the team’s 2014 payroll, barring trades. However, he could create further spending room if rival teams are interested in trading for the likes of J.A. Happ ($6.7 million salary) and Dioner Navarro ($5 million salary).

Blue Jays president Paul Beeston said on Sportsnet 590 The FAN in October that payroll will increase in 2015, in which case the Blue Jays would have the flexibility to continue spending. The team still has unresolved questions in left field, at second base and in the bullpen.

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