By Andrew Hendriks
Canadian Baseball Network
TORONTO - A group of nine Toronto Blue Jays were required to file and receive salary figures by Friday's 1 p.m. E.T. deadline, as the ball club, and its arbitration-eligible talent, took the first step in a process designed to provide fair and adequate compensation for the upcoming 2018 campaign.
With Josh Donaldson, Kevin Pillar, Aaron Sanchez, Devon Travis, Dominic Leone, Aaron Loup and Ezequiel Carrera agreeing to terms, the Blue Jays' front office has between now and the beginning of Spring Training (February 17) to reach amicable settlements with their remaining two arbitration eligible players, Marcus Stroman and Roberto Osuna.
MLB Trade Rumors (MLBTR) projects that this year's class of raise-worthy players could add as much as $44.8M in salary commitments to the Blue Jays' payroll, which, in its current pre-arbitration state, checks in around $92M.
Here's a look at those in play:
Josh Donaldson (113G - .270/.385/.559 - 33 HR)
MLBTR projection - $20.7M
Actual contract - $23M
Although injuries limited the Blue Jays' cornerstone infielder to his fewest number of games played since breaking in on a full-time basis back in 2012, Donaldson, when healthy, remained one of the most potent offensive threats in the American League as evidenced by his AL-pacing 24 home runs after the All-Star break. After earning $17M in 2017, the 32-year-old third baseman has agreed to a $23-million deal with the club for 2018.
Marcus Stroman (33G - 3.09 ERA - 164/62 SO/BB)
MLBTR projection - $7.2M
Having eclipsed career-highs in both starts (33) and wins (13), Stroman, who's now in his first season of arbitration eligibility, will earn a sizeable raise in 2018 thanks to posting the fourth lowest ERA in the American League and passing the 200 innings pitched plateau for a second consecutive season.
Roberto Osuna (66G - 3.38 ERA - 83/9 SO/BB)
MLBTR projection - $5.6M
An All-Star for the first time in 2017, Osuna went on to lead the American League in games finished with 58 and allowed only three home runs in 64 innings on the year. Like Stroman, the 22-year-old right-hander is entering his first arbitration year and is set to earn a substantial raise over the near league-minimum salary he pulled in last season.
Kevin Pillar (154G - .256/.300/.304 - 16 HR)
MLBTR projection - $4M
Actual contract - $3.25M
2017 marked the third consecutive season in which Pillar appeared in 140+ games. Although his overall offensive output has varied at times throughout his MLB career, steady glovework, coupled with the ability to remain relatively healthy despite an aggressive defensive approach has made him a fixture in the Blue Jays' lineup.
Ezequiel Carrera (131G - .282/.356/.408 - 8 HR)
MLBTR projection - $1.9M
Actual contract - $1.9M
This 30-year-old outfielder is coming off of a season in which he reached new season-highs in plate appearances (325), walks (30), hits (81), home runs (8) and games with 131 on the year. He signed a one-year, $1.9-million contract with the Blue Jays on Thursday, up from the $1.1625M he earned in 2017.
Aaron Sanchez (8G - 4.25 ERA - 24/20 SO/BB)
MLBTR projection - $1.9M
Actual contract - $2.7M
Blister issues resulted in both an inflated stat line and just a handful of appearances for Sanchez in 2017. Still, the 25-year-old right-hander is a season removed from leading the American League with an ERA of 3.00 and projects to start the 2018 campaign with a clean bill of health.
Aaron Loup (70G - 3.75 ERA - 64/20 SO/BB)
MLBTR projection - $1.8M
Actual contract - $1,812,500
After finishing the 2017 season one game shy of matching a career-best in appearances with 70, Loup, who earned $1.125M last year, has inked a contract that will pay him $1,812,500 in 2018.
Devon Travis (50G - .259/.291/.438 - 5 HR)
MLBTR projection - $1.2M
Actual contract - $1.45M
After appearing in only four spring training contests, Travis struggled out of the gate in 2017 and was hitting just .130 when the calendar flipped to May. His fortunes took a swing shortly after and the 25-year-old infielder finished the month with a .364 batting average supported by 20 extra-base hits in 99 cumulative at bats. Despite his torrid pace, the promising young infielder was shut down for good on June 6 after being diagnosed with a bone bruise in his right knee. Although the start to his MLB career has been riddled with injuries, the former 13th-round draft pick received a significant raise in his first trip into arbitration eligibility.
Dominic Leone (65G - 2.56 ERA - 81/23 SO/BB)
MLBTR projection - $1.2M
Actual contract - $1.085M
Claimed off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks prior to the 2017 campaign, Leone responded by posting the 12th-lowest ERA among qualified relievers in the American League last season while also establishing career-highs in games (65), innings pitched (70 1/3) and strikeouts (81).
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