SBD/November 15, 2012/Franchises

Timing Of Blue Jays' Trade Calculated With MLB Media Rights Deals, Improved Attendance

The multiplayer trade between the Marlins and the Blue Jays had a “lot to do with some shrewd calculations" by Blue Jays Owner Rogers Communications Inc., which "took into account the club’s improved attendance, some weakened competitors and a trio of blockbuster television deals,” according to Waldie & Robertson of the GLOBE & MAIL. The trade also comes as Rogers is “putting more emphasis on sports as content for mobile devices by taking half ownership" in Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment. While the Blue Jays’ on-field play had “disappointed fans, the club’s attendance increased 15 per cent last season, and revenue was higher than expected.” Some marketable players, like 3B Brett Lawrie and RF José Bautista, were “attracting fans across the country.” Meanwhile, AL East rivals the Yankees and Red Sox “looked vulnerable for the first time in years, and MLB had just concluded television deals that would put about $25-million [all figures U.S.] extra in each team’s pocket.” Increasing player payroll suddenly "looked like a smart investment and a chance to capitalize on fortunate events.” A source said that Rogers management a few weeks ago “cleared the way” for Blue Jays President & CEO Paul Beeston and GM Alex Anthopoulos to “take the payroll as high as $120-million for the season if necessary.” Anthopoulos “went out to look for players, and soon found a willing seller” in Marlins Owner Jeffery Loria. MLB's recent media rights deals were “key to making the deal work for Rogers" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/15).

GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR: The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin writes the “collapse of management’s Youth Will Be Served plan chastened the Blue Jays.” While the '12 season attendance and TV ratings were improved from '11, the Blue Jays "finished 22nd in MLB attendance with an average crowd of 25,921 -- 52.2 per cent of capacity.” TV ratings “surged early but levelled off late.” Former manager John Farrell’s departure to the Red Sox “did nothing for credibility, either” (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/15). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Robert MacLeod writes, “The belief here is that the 35-year-old general manager still has another move or two up his sleeve.” The Blue Jays are “suddenly considered a desirable landing spot for free agents now that Anthopoulos has proven he is willing to spend some dough to upgrade the roster” (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/15).
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Franchises, Toronto Blue Jays, MLB

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