Compiled By Andrew Millichamp
As Blue Jay fans streamed out of the Rogers Centre late Wednesday, they didn’t have to wait for the morning newspaper to know how the team finished this year.
They’d already read it a year earlier in a Global News article.
“Mediocre record. Some cause for optimism. Another fourth-place finish.”
The only difference was that this year was worse. The Jays won 73 games in 2012, eight fewer than they notched up last year.
This season the Jays fell from hot starters to near-basement dwellers, 22 games behind the AL East champion Yankees.
Alex Anthopoulos, the Jays general manager, promised that payroll would be up next year to help lure free agents north of the border.
“[Payroll] is not a bottomless pit so you’re weighing your options and I think that’s ultimately what it comes down to.” Anthopoulos told the Toronto Sun. “If you have X amount of dollars to spend, what percentage of that are you going to allocate to one or two or three areas?”
Asked what the focus would be, Anthopoulos didn’t mince words.
“The starting rotation. A lot of where our team goes is going to be predicated on what we do with the rotation,” Anthopoulos told the Toronto Star. “It’s clear we have needs there.”
While Anthopoulos said the trade route might have been more attractive in the past, he’s leaning towards free agency this season.
“If you look at the return and you can say we get to save these four [prospects] in a trade and spend the dollars on a free agent, that ultimately might make more sense,” he told the Star.
But an increase of payroll hardly guarantees success. According to ESPN, six of the top 10 payrolls didn’t make the playoffs this year, including three of the top four.
While the Blue Jays currently lag behind the Yankees and Red Sox – the number one and four payrolls respectively – they are on par with the Baltimore Orioles who won a wildcard spot and challenged for the AL East during the final days of the season.
On the opposite end from the high spenders, the AL West champion Oakland Athletics beat out the Texas Rangers on the final day of the season despite having a payroll ranked dead last in the majors.