Blue Jays Accept Darren Oliver Option, Decline Rajai Davis Option But Re-Sign Him

Joy R. Absalon-US PRESSWIRE

Well, they surprise me again, I was sure they would pick up Rajai Davis' option but I was wrong, they declined it, but they signed him to a $2.5 million contract instead. The option was for $3,000,000 but he had a $500,000 buyout. I guess I don't understand the math, but maybe the $2.5 million contract he signed includes the buyout.

Darren Oliver's $3.0 million option was exercised. I am guessing that means he doesn't plan to retire.

UPDATE (Minor Leaguer)

The curious case of Rajai Davis has been solved: Davis agreed to decline the buyout and take $2.5 million for a year instead of going to free agency. Perhaps Toronto is where he wants to be. The Blue Jays netted a $500,000 savings.

Davis, 32, is an intriguing fourth outfielder and an exciting pinch runner option for the Blue Jays. This past season, due to the abnormal number of injuries, Davis started more games than he probably should have. His outfield defense is average--he is very quick but his read on batted balls is below average, but he did make a sensational catch at the wall this year. He ended up hitting .257/.309/.378 in almost 500 plate appearances with 8 homers, 24 doubles, and 46 stolen bases, being caught 13 times.

Oliver, 42, had an outstanding season in relief for the Blue Jays, pitching 57 innings in 62 appearances. He had a 2.06 ERA and a 1.024 WHIP, the best numbers of his 19-season career. Oliver has not committed to returning for 2013, having had thoughts of retirement during the season. If the Blue Jays had chosen to decline his option, the team would've had to pay him a $500,000 buyout. He will most likely not be as good as he was last year when he was worth 1.9 wins, but there have been no obvious signs of major decline.

UPDATE THE SECOND (Minor Leaguer)

Turns out that Davis will receive the full $3 million, as per Brendan Kennedy's tweet:

UPDATE THE THIRD (Minor Leaguer)

The Blue Jays PR department responded saying that yes, there is "no net change in pay," but the move puts the $500,000 buyout on the 2012 books and reduces his salary in 2013 by $500,000. By the way, thanks, PR guy for the quick response!

In my head, this is a no-lose deal for the Blue Jays and Rajai Davis. The Blue Jays were probably going to pick up the option and pay Davis $3 million for 2013 anyway, so why not exercise the opportunity to shove $500,000 into the 2012 budget? That essentially frees up $500,000 of payroll burden for 2013--or approximately the cost of a player making Major League minimum. It's not a lot, but every little bit helps. And Davis will like this deal because he gets a cheque for $500,000 several months early--that can be worth $4000-5000 even if he just parked it in a savings account.

Maybe I'm not cynical enough, but I don't believe that this says anything about how much (or how little) the Blue Jays can spend in 2013. If Anthopoulos did not spend to the limit of the 2012 budget, why not charge $500,000 of what they would've had to pay next year to the space they have left this year?

What this does say is that the Blue Jays are unsure whether Darren Oliver will be returning in 2013. If they knew for sure Oliver wasn't going to retire, they could have pulled off the same deal (Oliver also had a $3 million option with a $500,000 buyout) and pushed $1 million of next year's salaries to 2012's books.

UPDATE THE LAST(?) (Minor Leaguer)

Mike Wilner reports on Twitter that Rajai Davis' new contract is indeed guaranteed. That means if the Blue Jays decide to release him at any point forward, he will be owed the full balance of the $2.5 million.

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