In a move that ought to be unfathomable — but, of course, is entirely fathomable because of the company we’re ultimately talking about here — in Ken Rosenthal’s latest for Fox Sports, he tells us that last month Blue Jays players offered to restructure their contracts in order to help the team free up the payroll necessary to get Ervin Santana’s name on a deal, and his arm into the club’s rotation.
It was as if the Toronto Blue Jays passed around a hat, trying to collect enough money to sign free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana.
Several Jays players discussed deferring portions of their salaries to clear payroll for Santana last month, according to major league sources.
Apparently the talks didn’t get past the conversation stage — Rosenthal spoke to an agent who explained that even if they did, they wouldn’t likely have been able to get the scheme past the union — but that’s not really the point, nor is that whole bit even the damn kicker here. We’re also told that “it is not clear whether the impetus for the talks about deferring money came from the players or from the Jays’ front office. The players, however, likely would not have engaged in such discussions unless they believed the team was unable or unwilling to pay Santana $14 million.”
There’s a chance that management may have come to the players with this?
There… really can’t be, though, right? Not really.
I mean, sure, there’s a chance of anything, but this is just Rosenthal covering his bases and making as clear as possible what the information he has is, even though it almost certainly must have been a suggestion coming from players desperate to see the team sign their friend, make good on their commitment to actually try to be a competitive baseball team, and add to a rotation in desperate need. Right???
Probably. We know that Jays players openly campaigned for him once it became clear that the Jays were really close. Perhaps this was all just a misguided attempt to show ownership how badly they felt he was needed, or how badly they wanted the team to show that the group was worth investing in. Except, that’s not what Kenny Ken Ken says.
Fucking hell, what a possibility!
Either way, though, if the report is correct — and that it’s coming from Rosenthal certainly gives a credibility that it wouldn’t from other sources (plus, Shi Davidi writes for Sportsnet that multiple sources are corroborating it) — and it happened in any form, the whole pathetic episode sure looks bad on Rogers, and on a front office that constantly covers for them with nonsense posturing about “polices” and “promises” that are simply a pretext to avoid hard questions about not spending, their supposedly strict adherence to microscopically narrow valuations (which obviously don’t apply when, for example, trading for R.A. Dickey), and all the talk about how magical and wonderful we’re supposed to believe ownership is because the Jays have never been told “no” when asking for more money (which, like any capo hoping to have a long career in the family business knows, they surely never do, save for exceptional circumstances).
Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily true any more than it is to suggest that an ownership that appears comfortable committing sociopathic corporate pillage with one hand while cranking out Orwellian brand management twaddle with the other actually might give a shit about what people think when they get a foggy glimpse through the keyhole into their middle-management-shithead paradise. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see here, either.
For one, it’s interesting in and of itself that someone has slipped word of this to a reporter — and to a big time one like Rosenthal, in particular. So much so that it almost makes me want to spitball alternate theories. For example: what if, rather than publicly griping about ownership the way that J.P. Ricciardi did on his way out, getting this sort of information out there could be a way for a scorned front office to ratchet up some public pressure on stingy ownership not willing to act in good faith?
Palace intrigue! I mean… would you rule out the possibility that the front office is as entirely frustrated with how this off-season played out as we are? I sure wouldn’t. Shit, and suggesting them as the source of the leak, apart from being almost certainly wrong, is at least no less plausible than the idea that the front office may have actually went to the fucking players, hat in hand, isn’t it?
I don’t know. Maybe it entirely is.
Are you sensing a theme? There’s simply not much concrete to grasp onto here, and that makes such a report all the more insidious. True or not, nothing out of it seems like it can be very good for the team, its relationship with its players and fans, its relationship with players and agents around the league, nor is it good for ownership. Yet what’s especially shitty about that is that a company like Rogers is so ubiquitous, and so wealthy, that at this stage their brand is practically unassailable. Meanwhile, the Jays live and die by theirs, and once again have given reason for fans — maybe not now, swept up as they are in the glowing optimism of a new season yet to turn sour — to wonder why they even fucking bother.
Way to go! You really held strong on saving a few short term dollars!
The Jays, for their part, aren’t saying anything. Alex Anthopoulos, according to Rosenthal’s piece, declined to comment.
That’s not surprising, but actually interesting, too. There certainly could be other explanations for this beyond the “fucking cheap Rogers” stuff that’s so easy to just assume is what is behind all of this — and at least one of them would be easy enough for him to stick to.
When the news broke on Twitter there were several fans reluctant to believe the report at all, either because the Jays supposedly offered more money to A.J. Burnett than they did Santana — a report of dubious veracity that we hear about in the weeks following Pete Puma’s signing with Philadelphia — or because the club allegedly really was about to sign Santana for $14.1-million. We’re to believe that the pitcher was on the way to take a physical with the Jays before the big bad banged-up Braves came in and made him an offer — at which point, after months of having their leverage ground into dirt, camp Santana decided they didn’t give a shit what sort of agreement the nickel-and-diming Jays thought they had — and he decided to go to the National League instead.
I’d rather the club actually show us the money instead of merely always claiming that it’s there, but enough people believe that it was dirty pool by Santana and Jay Alou that undid the deal that, as a tactic, you’d at least think Anthopoulos would claim that the money was there, the players were told this wasn’t necessary, and that was the end of it.
Yet he isn’t.
Maybe he will, and maybe it means nothing anyway, but, like I say, it’s interesting.
Shit, though, maybe he simply wants to stay above the fray in case the source of this information resurfaces to dispute whatever version of events he tries to pass off as the truth, making the whole thing even bigger still. Or maybe there’s a simpler explanation. Maybe it all came to Rosenthal by way of a player or two, still aggrieved by what they saw as the lack of a once-promised commitment from the organization. Or maybe from their agent. Or perhaps from another agent who simply gets a kick out of making things uncomfortable for the Jays — perhaps, as a pet theory of mine would have it, going back as far as the era of Bill Caudill.
Who knows? It’s all rather murky, but unfortunately for the Jays, the thickness of the murk isn’t going to save them from another P.R. hit, especially since in the end it doesn’t even really matter whether it’s true or not. All we see is that it looks bad, it looks frustratingly fucking typical, and this combination — that an alleged episode underpinned by myopic greed-headed stupidity can feel so entirely par for the course — tells you just about everything you need to know about this organization and why it’s mired in a two decade long slog through the endless corridor of funhouse mirrors that is corporate team ownership.
Worse still, just because the season is underway, it doesn’t mean the issue evaporates. Rosenthal takes us right to the nut: “The imposition of a payroll limit by Rogers would make it difficult for the team to add salaries if it stays in contention.”
Ugh. Happy Home Opener Day, Blue Jays fans!