According to a team release, the Jays have made their decisions on the two players they held contract options on, picking up lefty reliever Darren Oliver’s $3-million option for 2013, while declining the $3-million option they had on Rajai Davis.
Ahh, but there’s a catch!
Though Davis had his option declined, the club also announces that they have re-signed Davis to a one-year deal worth $2.5-million. Davis had a buyout clause worth $500K on the old contract, and it’s still unclear whether he’ll receive this or not. There’s no savings here for the Jays if he does, but Mike Wilner speculates as to a reason why the club would still have incentive to do it:
Assuming Davis’ $2.5 million deal is not guaranteed, hence the decline-and-sign. If they’d picked up option, there’s a guarantee. #Bluejays
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) October 31, 2012
If so, it gives the club some nifty flexibility. They can look for something better and still have the ability in mid-March to cut Davis while only paying a sixth of his salary, much in the way Reed Johnson was cut loose back in 2008. Let’s just hope the Jays find something better than the ’08 version of Shannon Stewart as their everyday left fielder, if they do end up going that way.
For Davis… I guess he’s decided it’s better to take this chance than to hit the open market– assuming, that is, Wilner is correct about the deal being a non-guaranteed one. I can’t say I think it’s a bad choice, frankly. (Yes, he’s technically arbitration eligible, but if the Jays declined his option, there’s no way they’ll go to arbitration with him– MLBTR projected him as in line for about $3.9-million through arb earlier in the week.)
As for Oliver, clearly it was a no-brainer to pick up his option, though it’s no guarantee that he won’t still retire. Fingers crossed for the return of Black Magic, especially since I didn’t realize that’s what he’d nicknamed himself until way too late in the season. But mostly because he was pretty fucking awesome.
Still some confusion among the beat writers as to what’s happened here, precisely:
Far as I can tell – after getting it explained to me by #bluejays PR – Davis still gets $3M total, but only $2.5M counted on 2013 payroll.
— Brendan Kennedy (@BKennedyStar) October 31, 2012
So… the Jays are now being forced to practice Rogers brand sideways accounting? Is that what I’m seeing here?
Well that’s not nearly so positive as the idea that it’s non-guaranteed, is it? MID-PARAGRAPH UPDATE: But…. I think it is a non-guaranteed deal.
That Davis had his option declined we know. But when that happened he would have remained under team control because he hasn’t accumulated enough service time to be a free agent. He would, however, be eligible for arbitration.
We know that deal where an arb-eligible player and club avoided arbitration can be terminated in the manner that Johnson’s was, and I’m assuming that Davis did the same thing by signing the new deal. Makes total sense, right?
Thing is, I’m honestly not entirely sure how deep into the process they have to go before a non-guaranteed deal like that can be reached. (Procedurally, are there steps they need to take? Must Davis file for arbitration first? Could he have? Must he be tendered a contract? Must numbers be exchanged? I don’t know.)
But I’m thinking that’s possibly what this is– thus Davis may be cut in March and only paid 1/6th of his salary, whereas picking up the option would have guaranteed it. And if he hadn’t agreed, the Jays would surely have declined arbitration, making him a free agent– and not one who is necessarily likely to do a whole lot better on the free agent market than what he got here.
But for the love of fuck, don’t quote me on that.
Otherwise, they’re simply shifting $500K off of next year’s payroll, which doesn’t exactly give one confidence about any kind of spending sprees that might be forthcoming.