When yesterday we learned about the hardball that Darren Oliver and his camp have decided to play with the Jays regarding his contract, the details– provided by Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of Fox Sports– were a little bit shadowy.
The ultimatum to increase his salary came simply from “major-league sources,” and it was “sources” who told the pair that the Jays wanted Oliver back but were unwilling to stretch their budget further.
On the record, Oliver’s agent– ex-player Jeff Frye– would only say to them that “Darren Oliver has been a friend of mine for 20 years and a client for 10. Whatever he decides to do is his decision. I’m behind him 100 percent.”
Well, apparently Rosenthal and Morosi aren’t TR Sullivan, Rangers beat reporter for MLB.com, because– just in case you thought there was a chance that the Fox pair’s reporting wasn’t straight– he laid out the situation in no uncertain terms:
“The facts are the facts,” Oliver’s agent Jeff Frye said on Thursday. “It’s going to take a lot more money for Darren to play in Toronto than play in Texas. We’re waiting on the Blue Jays to pay him what he deserves. If not, we have asked them to trade him to Texas if the Rangers are interested.
“If not he’ll ride off into the sunset after a great 19-year career and enjoy his family.”
Can’t be a whole lot clearer than that, can you?
But, as much as people want to fly off the handle about greed and the sheer audacity of it all, it really is just a tactic– and a particularly shrewd one at that.
Oliver wants more money and he has a decent enough amount of leverage here, thanks to his actual– er… supposed– willingness to retire.
Making these sorts of demands would be far more problematic for a player not in that position; if Oliver won’t play for the Jays he won’t collect any money and he won’t be able to play for anybody else for the length of his deal with the Jays. That shouldn’t be difficult for him to swallow, since he was just going to retire anyway, but it wouldn’t be so easy for a player in the middle of a long contract, or at the end of one, but who’d stand to lose a lot of money by sitting out a year.
Does that make it right or ethical? I don’t know. But I do know that we praise GMs when they maximize their leverage in deals and applaud progressive clubs for importing Wall Street principles to the game, which makes it especially strange to me how emphatically some people disdain what Oliver is doing here, given what side of the worker-management dynamic he is (and most of us are) on, how blindingly rich the company he’s trying to get more money from– and they’re insisting should keep it– truly is, and what little opportunity these guys actually have to get a chunk of the astronomical profits being made off their service.
But… whatever. Again, it’s a tactic. It doesn’t hurt anybody to try, and the worst thing that possibly happens is the Jays call his bluff, then he calls theirs and he retires like we all kinda thought he was going to in the first place. I’d rather he honoured the deal, but I get it, and… meh.
Jason Wojciechowski’s got it:
— Jason Wojciechowski (@jlwoj) January 4, 2013
Image via @mattomic, awesomeness.