Ken Rosenthal kicked the ant hill that is the Jays writers and bloggers by telling us that Jays players considered deferring their own contracts to raise enough money to allow the team to sign Ervin Santana. Shi David has confirmed the story and Paul Beeston also confirmed it on CBC Metro Morning.
Basically some of the players were willing to 'pass around the hat' to give the team enough money to sign Santana (I'd imagine Dustin McGowan, Drew Hutchison and some of the others that were in the mix for the last couple of rotation spot weren't in on this idea).
This raises several issues:
- The good news is the players really really want to win. Anyone that tries to tell you that the Jays players only care about the money, show them this story. The players want the best for the team. And that is likely it for good news.
- Obviously Rogers has put a ceiling on how much the Jays can spend on payroll. It does remind me of the Ricciardi years, where ownership would allow the team money one season and then shut off the tap the next year. That sort of thing really screws up a team. In my opinion a team should be either 'all in' or be building. Being in the middle doesn't work. Especially in the AL East. If we aren't all in, we really shouldn't have traded all those prospects last year. The yoyo thing didn't work when Ricciardi was GM, and I don't see it working for Alex Anthopoulos either.
- No one seems to know whether the idea come from the players or from management. If it was the players? Great, shows the players care. If it was management? I can't imagine anything worse. If management is so desperate that it wants the players to finance the team? That's not good. It would suggest that the management of the Blue Jays and that of Rogers aren't exactly on the same page, that it isn't the happy relationship that they keep trying to tell us it is.
- It does underline that the players weren't exactly happy with the lack of moves this winter
Now, I doubt the Players Association would have gone along with this. They hate having players give back money that the player and team agreed upon. They, amazingly enough, feel that once a contract is signed, it should be honored (what an old fashioned idea). It is really a bad precedent for the union. Once a team figures out it can claw back money from players, what's to stop them asking again next year or what's to stop other teams from using the line 'If you guys really cared about the team you'd help us with this free agent, the Blue Jays players did it'. The union wouldn't like that.
It sounds like the players money wasn't part of the offer that Alex made to Santana, that he eventually turned down to go to the Braves.
Anyway, it is, at very least, unsettling. It will get the 'cheap Rogers' people talking and it does make me a little more uncomfortable about the future. If Rogers is unhappy about how much the team is spending on payroll, we could be in for a selloff if the team isn't in the race this year, which would put us back where we were a couple of years ago, but of course, two years behind where we would have been. And it also suggests that Beeston's line about the Jays making the playoffs 'two or three times in the next five years' is long forgotten.