This is getting a little out of hand now.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014: Ervin Santana – the best free agent pitcher available on the open market – signed a 1-year, $14.1 million deal to pitch for the Atlanta Braves, which served to give a little support to the incredible set of events of the prior 72 hours in which two starters were lost for the year.
That should be the end of the story. However, it seems that the Toronto Blue Jays do not want to let it go.
There was lobbying…
Oh my, yes: lots of it from the Blue Jays’ side as they thought their only competition for Santana’s services was the Baltimore Orioles.
- A Canadian pizza company offered 200 pizzas for him and [for] local kids if he’d sign with the Jays.
- All of the Dominican players on their roster were openly campaigning for him. Jose Bautista was very public about it.
- On March 8th, a report surfaced that an agreement had been reached with him to play in Canada. That story was later denied.
There was optimism…
- The aforementioned leaked agreement story
- Manager John Gibbons may have been counting on Santana’s presence:
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) March 12, 2014
And then there was the whining…
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that he was ‘trying to take the high road‘ regarding not getting Santana. He didn’t succeed.
- “The only thing Anthopoulos would confirm is that the Blue Jays had an agreement in place with Santana midway through Spring Training. That had long been assumed, but Friday marked the first time Anthopoulos offered confirmation.”
- “Our comments with respect to Santana is we felt we had an agreement in place” (same source)
- And now, we hear that players on the Blue Jays – with union approval – were offering to defer salary to help ‘pay’ for Ervin Santana.
During spring training in early March, Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos met with his five highest-paid players to discuss whether they would be willing to defer part of their 2014 salaries so the club could sign free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana to a one-year contract.
No, they just won’t let it go.
Here’s the bottom lines…
- Alex A was right about one thing – the impact of the National League difference (same source):
“I think what I’ll say is from what I was told he wanted to pitch in the NL. Couldn’t compete with it. It wasn’t money. It wasn’t years. He had a strong desire to pitch in the NL, and there was no way to compete with that.
- But it went deeper than that: The AL East is a death sentence for non-ace pitchers and the NL East is going to be the diametric opposite of that for Santana this year. Face it: who would he rather see for a dozen+ starts this year? The Orioles/Rays/Red Sox/Yankees (with a DH, no less) or the Marlins/Mets/Phillies? Yeah… not a tough choice, especially for a pitcher trying to prove his value for another free agency run next year.
- The Blue Jays – for all the desires expressed about getting more pitching to replace Josh Johnson – pretty much screwed around for a couple of months and played ‘penny-wise/pound foolish’ games with him. They had the chance to sign him. For a long while.
- For the discussion about whether there was any agreement between the parties before the Braves got him (and yes, he was apparently resigned to his fate and heading to Florida to ink a deal with somebody when Atlanta called), I have two words in response:
The Braves – for sure – know about getting screwed by agents after an agreement is reached. We had to suck on it then – and the Blue Jays have to do so now. Frankly, I think they will be better off without him – for the reasons suggested above. So even if Santana comes to Atlanta and throws a 3.00, 16-6 season, the Jays have to know that they might very well not have been better off due to league and divisional differences.
Fact is, after Atlanta’s own bout with skimping on contracts (Tim Hudson), they got into an emergency situation and acted immediately… forget the money: “we need this guy now” was the attitude. It worked. So the reason he’s smiling in that picture above is because he didn’t have to settle for the AL East and face a juggernaut offense every week.
Toronto had the same opportunity – for much longer. Time to let it go, guys.