Kenny Ken Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports seem to actually have something resembling a kernel of information about what’s going on with Darren Oliver, who continues to mull retirement– ostensibly, we’ve been told all along, to be with his family, though… uh… maybe not only for that.
Oliver, 42, wants to play, but is not willing to return to the Toronto Blue Jays unless the team increases his salary from $3 million, according to major-league sources.
The reliever would rather retire than be away from his family for a salary that is well below market value, sources say.
C’mere kids. Now, you know your ol’ man loves you so very much, right? So much that he’d turn down $3-million just to have a chance to be a bigger part of these crucial years of your development as upstanding young people. You know that, don’tcha, kids?
Yeah, well, the thing is… if they tossed in another $1.5-million…
In a way, I almost can’t blame Oliver here for trying to maximize his earning potential after having yet another superb year at the age of 41. But in another, more fucking believable way, he’s kinda being a bit of dickhead. He signed the damn contract– a deal that “was front-loaded at Oliver’s request,” we’re told, mostly because he didn’t think he’d be coming back for another year– and it’s still three-million-fucking-dollars!
Plus, it’s not like he’s the first person in the history of the goddamn world to be playing on a below-market deal. R.A. Dickey won the effing Cy Young and then signed an extension that pays him $5.25-million this year! Granted it’s a backloaded contract, but still. Jose Bautista, at $14-million, is probably a shitload more below market in total dollars than Oliver too.
Should these guys also be maximizing their earning potential?
Should the Jays– who, the Fox report tells us, “want Oliver back, but are over budget and unwilling to extend their payroll further”– just cave and pay him a little more?
Thinking entirely in on-field baseball terms, of course the Jays would be a better club if they kept him, and the cost to do so wouldn’t mean a whole lot in the grand scheme. Yet, as much as I’m usually loath to give two shits about things like “the kind of message it sends” and related logic, I can totally see why the Jays would want to stand on principle and insist that Oliver play under the terms of the contract he signed or not at all. I don’t necessarily think paying him would lead to a rash of holdouts or any of that slippery slope kind of nonsense, but… it truly wouldn’t look good, and– on a more guttural level– surely would be a whole lot more satisfying to call his bluff and not stand for what looks like his negotiating last winter in bad faith.
“Oliver’s perspective is that the Jays already have demonstrated an ‘all-in’ approach by making their blockbuster with the Miami Marlins and another trade with the New York Mets for right-hander R.A. Dickey,” the Fox pair writes. “Why not extend a little more, particularly for a pitcher who has given the team a strong clubhouse presence in addition to elite performance?”
You mean the guy who built up a narrative all about wanting so badly to stay home with his kids, which he’s now trying to leverage into a raise? It’s smart business, I’ll give him that. And it never will cease to amaze me how quickly people will start talking about “greed” for his wanting to get a probably-deserved raise out of the pockets of fucking Rogers, or like he’s entirely about the money and nothing else, as though it’s really all that simple. But… yeah.
He’s a fucking terrific pitcher and I badly want to see him back with the team and not have to hold some petty contract dispute against him, but he’s not exactly making it easy here, is he?
“A trade to the Rangers represents a possible compromise, and Oliver likely would be more flexible in his financial requirements if he could be closer to home,” we’re told. Which… aww, how nice.
Tough shit, though. The Jays can play hard, too, and force him to turn down the $3-million they’d gladly pay him to return. If he’s as concerned about extracting every last penny as this makes it seem, I’m not sure he’s going to find that quite so easy.