TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays set the stage for more roster retooling by not tendering contracts to outfielders Andy Dirks and John Mayberry Jr., plus first baseman Justin Smoak ahead of Monday’s midnight deadline.
In cutting ties with the three players, general manager Alex Anthopoulos saved himself a projected $6.25 million on the trio, a clear indication he feels there’s opportunity to do other things with the money.
The shuffling also eliminates the club’s two primary left-field options in Dirks and Mayberry and leaves just three outfielders on the 40-man roster, a risky level of exposure Anthopoulos wouldn’t have taken without a reasonable sense something is on the horizon.
The Blue Jays now have $121.7 million in 2015 commitments to 15 players including the salary arbitration projections for Marco Estrada ($4.7 million), Josh Donaldson ($4.5 million), Brett Cecil ($2.6 million) and Danny Valencia ($1.7 million).
Assuming a payroll of $140 million, the Blue Jays have roughly $18.3 million available for 11 roster spots, although more money could be freed up by trading Dioner Navarro ($5 million) or J.A. Happ ($6.7 million).
Whether that creates enough salary space to re-sign free agent left-fielder Melky Cabrera while also addressing needs at second base, the bullpen and now the bench is unclear.