Instead of reporting to triple-A Buffalo after passing through outright waivers, former Blue Jays infielder-outfielder Steve Tolleson elected free agency. He has given up what he is owed for the rest of his contract and will not receive termination pay, but is now free to sign with any club, including re-signing with Toronto.
The transaction first appeared on the list of International League Transactions Wednesday, and Bluebird Banter later confirmed the move with the Blue Jays. Previously, Sportsnet's Shi Davidi reported that Tolleson had accepted the assignment.
Tolleson, 31, was designated for assignment on April 24 to make room for Michael Saunders' return from the disabled list. He was outrighted to Buffalo Tuesday after not being claimed on waivers, but because this is Tolleson's second career outright, he had the choice to elect to become a free agent immediately. The Blue Jays, who currently are not carrying a backup middle infielder behind starters Devon Travis and Ryan Goins, were thought to have had interest in bringing Tolleson back to the big club when Saunders is ready to play again.
Outside of baseball, Tolleson has a business degree and is a financial planner.
(hat tip to @BlueJaysMoves)
Uhhhh... I will have to look into why this happend, but I swear that I have an email from the Blue Jays confirming that he had elected free agency.
ROSTER MOVE: The #Bisons have activated INF Steve Tolleson in advance of their 11am game in Durham this morning. #BlueJays— Buffalo Bisons (@BuffaloBisons) May 7, 2015
Ohhhhhh. OK. As some in the comments have speculated, this could mean that he negotiated for a better deal.
Steve Tolleson in starting lineup for triple-A Buffalo this morning after electing free agency and then re-signing with #BlueJays— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) May 7, 2015
One reason I can think of for re-signing immediately after electing free agency is that Tolleson wanted to ask for a better major league salary upon callup. Another is that he wanted a chance to shop himself to the other clubs to see if there was a clearer path back to the major leagues. Finding none, he would choose to return. And he did.
Shi Davidi did a really good job at explaining why these moves were made here, and I learned of a new rule in baseball transactions!
In that piece, Davidi explained that Tolleson would've had to remain on his outright assignment for a minimum of 10 days before the Blue Jays could've called him up had he accepted the assignment. I had long thought that the 10-day minimum only applied to optional assignments, but according to rule 11(j)(1)(B), it applies to outright assignments as well.
MLR 11(j)(1): If the player's contract
has been assigned outright by a Major League Club to a Minor League Club, the player's contract may be reacquired at any time during the year by the assignor Major League Club without restrictions, except:
(B) within 10 days from the date of the outright assignment to the Minor League Club, if the assignment was made during the championship season.
By electing free agency, and re-signing to a minor league deal, that restriction no longer applied. It's a nice little trick that the Blue Jays front office employed.