In a Friday morning scrum with the Blue Jays beat reporters, general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke about his newest pitcher in camp as well as his injured left fielder.
Last night it was reported that the Blue Jays have signed reclamation project Johan Santana to a minor league deal. Santana will be in camp for the spring but he will likely not be ready for opening day, according to this John Lott tweet. I interpret that as meaning that Santana would not be ready for either a big league or a minor league start by early April. I had hopes that I would see him and Josh Thole reunited as the starting battery with the Bisons on their opening day, but according to Scott MacArthur, the Jays would probably not want to expose Santana to the Buffalo cold, preferring to leave him in Dunedin after spring training.
Anthopolos explained that Santana will be allowed to opt-out of his contract on April 28 (per Gregor Chisholm) if he is not on the major league roster by that point (a good number of minor league contracts for former big leaguers have some sort of opt out date, usually end of spring training or June 1). If he opts out, he becomes a free agent the Blue Jays won't have to pay him going forward. That means that if Santana is not quite ready, but looks promising, in two months' time, the Blue Jays would have to make a call on whether to call him up and let him finish his rehab in the major leagues , or to let him go with another club.
Santana will be making $2.5 million guaranteed if he gets called up, but he will get bonuses on top of that based on games started and days spent active. This is, if I recall correctly, the first contract with incentives that Alex Anthopoulos has handed out in his tenure, making an exception in this case for a pretty exceptional pitcher. The Blue Jays' aversion towards contract bonuses stem from the poor experience they had after the club signed Frank Thomas during the J.P. Ricciardi regime. Incentives that are tied to playing time are dangerous, as players who are legitimately benched for poor performance may feel that the club is doing so to save money. However, unlike an everyday position player, there should be less of a problem with this case, as the Blue Jays would very likely just release Santana if he cannot go every five days.
This is a good, low-risk move for the Blue Jays. If Santana makes the starting rotation sometime in April, he will either be good enough to go all season as a starter or he won't, in which case that's also fine because it would mean either Aaron Sanchez or Daniel Norris will get some more seasoning in triple-A. The biggest risk of this signing is if the Blue Jays hang on to him for too long on the 25-man roster when it is clear that he has nothing left (see Wang, Chien-Ming).
Right now, Preston Guilmet is assigned #57. I'd assume he will be changing numbers shortly.
According to Jon Heyman, Johan Santana can make up to $6.55 million this season if he achieves all his bonuses (boni?).
Beyond 2.5M base in majors, Johan has 2.05M in games started bonuses (maxing out at 25 GS), 2M in roster bonuses #jays— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) February 27, 2015
Also this tweet from @BlueJays:
Did anyone even ask Preston Guilmet???
The Condor will be getting surgery to repair his torn meniscus this afternoon, reported Shi Davidi (I'm spreading the Twitter love today). Echoing what Bluebird Banter reader Thom Nelligan discussed yesterday in the comments, Michael Saunders could have opted for a quicker recovery (4-6 weeks) by removing his meniscus, but that procedure would cause heightened risks of arthritis in his knees later in life--something that he obviously should not take a risk on.
Good news for the Blue Jays, bad news (long term) for Michael Saunders: during surgery this afternoon, the surgeon found that there was significant damage in his meniscus--too much to be repaired--according to the beat tweeters. Instead of patching it up, the doctors simply (OK maybe it's not "simple" to cut out a meniscus) removed 60% of the cartilage. Now whether Saunders made a choice in the matter is unclear (see Chisholm versus Scott MacArthur), but it is clear that he will be returning to action a little earlier than expected.
Saunders is expected to be out for five-to-six weeks, which means he will likely just miss a few games to start the season, alleviating the Blue Jays' needs to find a left fielder from outside the organization.