The Toronto Blue Jays have officially announced that they have tendered contracts to all unsigned players on their 40-man roster other than pitchers Jason Adam, Derek Law and catcher Luke Maile. That leaves Anthony Alford as the longest-tenured player in the Blue Jays organization in terms of Blue Jays debut and Teoscar Hernández as the player with the longest active service on the team.
ROSTER UPDATE: We've non-tendered the following players.— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) December 3, 2019
All remaining unsigned players on our 40-man roster have been tendered contracts for 2020. pic.twitter.com/xpV6dWmJws
Law and Maile were considered to be non-tender candidates but Adam, a pre-arbitration eligible reliever with options, was a bit of a surprise to see being non-tendered today (see the “Rule 55(f) Explainer” section below). Brandon Drury, who 63% of you thought should not have been offered a contract, remains on the Blue Jays roster.
It seems like this was a broader trend across MLB, with many players becoming free agents today. Old friends Kevin Pillar and Aaron Sanchez, both traded by the Blue Jays in 2019, were non-tendered today by the Giants and Astros, respectively. The Pillar trade saw the Jays acquiring Juan De Paula, Alen Hansen, and the abovementioned Law. (ML: With Pillar, Hansen, and Law all moving on from their organization, the Blue Jays can definitely say they won the Pillar trade.) (MW: lol, saying Jays won the Pillar trade is like saying the guy who only gets frostbite rather than an amputation from being stranded in the wilderness won)(ML: Speaking of tenders and frostbite, do you still eat frozen chicken fingers, Matt?)
Another intriguing non-tender is Blake Treinen, who owned a 0.78 ERA back in his All-Star campaign all the way back in... 2018. Perhaps there is something still there.
Blue Jays Roster Tree Update
The LAW Line to Pillar has been removed along with ADAM and MAILE.
The Blue Jays also announced a number of signings today, offering minor league contracts with invitations to major league spring training to right-handed pitchers Phillippe Aumont, A.J. Cole, and Justin Miller, infielder Andy Burns, and infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan.
Aumont, who turns 31 in January next year, pitched briefly with the Bisons in 2015 after a good performance for Team Canada in the Pan-Am Games. He returns to the organization in 2020 after an intriguing performance for Team Canada in the Premier 12 tournament in South Korea. Aumont went to the tournament wanting to land a contract in the KBO.
Miller, 32, pitched for the Nationals organization in 2019 and is not the same Justin “I Love Billy Koch” Miller who pitched for the Blue Jays in the early 2000’s (the latter passed away in 2013).
Kivlehan, who turns 30 later this month, was acquired from the Pirates in a minor league trade in May. He hit 25 homers for the Bisons and likely will find himself back in Buffalo in 2020.
Why was Jason Adam Non-Tendered? A Rule 55(f) Explainer
Adam, as a pre-arbitration eligible player, was not identified as a non-tender candidate, but in hindsight should have been due to effect of a particular rule (and how it was foretold in Genesis 3:23). In general, if teams want to remove these players from the 40-man roster, they will opt for outright waivers so that if they’re not claimed they can retain the player in the organization for depth or development purposes.
However, under Major League Rule 55(f) (not LV) governing minor league free agency, after the date of minor league free agency declarations (five days after the World Series, this year Nov. 4), a 40-man player who would otherwise be eligible for minor league free agency at end of the season cannot be sent outright before he has signed a contract for next season.
Since pre-arb players are almost always renewed unilaterally by team at or near the minimum on split contracts—which cannot happen until March 1 at the earliest—that effectively would freeze Adam onto the 40-man roster until Spring Training. The only other alternative between now and then would be release waivers, which would create an obligation for 30 days major league termination pay.
Effectively then, for pre-arb players on a team’s 40-man bubble, non-tendering them in December is an easy “off-ramp” opportunity to removing them from the 40-man roster during the winter. Given that Adam was definitely on the fringe of the roster if and when spots would be needed to theoretically make some additions, the decision to non-tender him and open the roster spot logically follows.
Other players to whom this provision would apply (essentially any player drafted in 2013 or before or signed as an IFA in 2012 or before) include most other “bubble” players on the roster: Jonathan Davis, Sam Gaviglio, Billy McKinney, and Rowdy Tellez. Tendering them today is thus to some extent a vote of confidence in their future, as they will either be around to Spring Training or there will be a cost to remove them before them.