The Toronto Blue Jays announced a couple of house-keeping moves earlier this evening, ahead of the weekend’s start to free-agency. The first is relatively straight-forward: the team has picked up the option on reliever Darren Oliver, opting to pay him $3 million to pitch in 2013, as opposed to buying the veteran out for $500,000.
It’s a no-brainer move, really. Bucking a trend that should see the lefty in the twilight of his career with diminished skills, the 42-year old continued to get better in 2012, putting up career-best numbers in ERA (2.06), WHIP (1.02), and BAA (.213). Oh, and he’s giving up fewer homers (0.48 HR/9) than he has in any of his other 17 full seasons, too. Oliver was the Blue Jays’ best reliever last season outside of Casey Janssen, and it’s no wonder why the team would want him around as a set-up man, even with all of their current bullpen depth.
Of course, Oliver could also choose to retire, which would make all of this a moot point; it’s something that he’s reportedly mulling over, but the Blue Jays at least made that he’ll be with the club should he choose to continue his playing career.
The other housekeeping move is a little more complicated, even though it really shouldn’t be: the team also re-signed outfielder Rajai Davis to a one-year, $2.5 million contract – but not before declining the $3 million option for 2013 and opting for the $500,000 buyout on his contract. Essentially, the move will save the team no money for 2013 season, but that the new deal was made to avoid arbitration (something that Davis was eligible for after the team declined the 2013 option) means that the new contract is not guaranteed.
That should give the Blue Jays some additional flexibility in terms of roster movements next season, should they decide at some point that Davis’ services are no longer needed. It also means that the $500,000 buyout does not officially count towards the Blue Jays’ overall payroll in 2013.
Well, at least that’s what I think is happening, anyway. To be fair, the team hasn’t made it very clear about what exactly is the point to the Davis deal – he’s getting the same amount of money in 2013 as he would have if the Blue Jays had picked up his option, but that they didn’t do so makes some sort of difference in the books and in the state of the contract. Maybe.
In any case, Davis will be around next year, though presumably – and hopefully – not as the starting left fielder.