Jays were willing to defer money for Santana

* Word came out this week that several Blue Jays players were willing to defer portions of their salaries in order to sign free agent right-hander Ervin Santana...  2014 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors  2015 Canadian draft list

By Bob Elliott

We have a suggestion next time the Blue Jays try to form a underground cabal to bring on more talent: Involve a real money earner like Bob McCown.

Get the host of Prime Time Sports in on the talks.

He is a deal-maker.

Shortstop Jose Reyes confirmed Ken Rosenthal’s FOX Sports story Friday that some Jays players had discussed deferring portions of their salaries in order to sign free-agent right-hander Ervin Santana.

Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey and Reyes agreed to defer amounts, which would equal the $14.1 million earmarked for Santana, who eventually signed with the Atlanta Braves.

“I think Buehrle and I were going to give a little more than the other guys since we make more,” said Reyes after the Jays lost 7-3 to the New York Yankees last night.

Buehrle earns $18 million and Reyes $16 million.

Bautista will earn $14 million and Dickey $12 million. Encarnacion makes $9 million.

When we first read Rosenthal’s story, we thought no chance.

This is the type of thing that happens in the NFL.

After all, Paul Molitor offered to give some roughly $1.5 million US of his $4,5 million contract to keep right-hander Todd Stottlemyre with the Jays. Stottlemyre got the news driving across Alligator Alley, headed for the home of the homeless free-agent camp in Homestead, Fla.

Yet, the Players’ Association declined the suggestion.

This time, we’re told the union had given approval.

Stottlemyre was given a $2-million deal by the Oakland A’s and took pay cheques for seven more years from the St. Louis Cardinals and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Now, 19 years later, contracts can be re-done as long as it is to the betterment of the player.

One comparison to the Jays’ planned restructuring would be the Kansas City Royals and their approach with right-hander Jeremy Guthrie.

Guthrie was scheduled to earn $11 million this year and $9 million in 2015.

Now, he’ll earn $8 million this season, $9 million in 2015, with a $10 million mutual option added for 2016. The option contains a $3.2-million buyout, so Guthrie receives $200,000 more even if the Royals do not pick up his option.

None of the Jays were giving up any money but they were making an effort to be accommodating, bring in talent and re-work team payroll, which is $132 million.

Now, you might ask why Rogers Communications, which saw an increase of $24 million in payroll for this season, didn’t fork over the $14 million for Santana, since acquiring starting pitching was the Jays’ No. 1 goal since last season ended with a scant 74 wins.

Remember, it was a pitching staff which ranked 29th in the majors.

You might scream that question if you look into the third base dugout and see the Yankees, who have committed to $465 million in additional funds this off season.

Nadir Mohamed retired as president and CEO of Rogers, after securing the new NHL deal. Guy Laurence took over.

Word in the corporate hallways is that there may be more money coming the Jays’ way at the trade deadline — if they happen to be factors — but not before the team shows management what it can do with the 10th highest payroll.

“Santana was prepared to come here,” GM Alex Anthopoulos told writers last night. “We had the dollars. How we choose to structure those dollars, we keep in-house. I believe if Kris Medlen had not been hurt, Santana would be here today.

“I have to respond because it’s out there. But I wouldn’t really qualify it one way or another, because it is specific to a negotiation we had. Ultimately it didn’t get done and I’d prefer not to get into specifics.”

Anthopoulos indicated Rosenthal had done his homework.

“With respect to Kenny’s piece, he’s been doing it for a long time and we have great respect for him. But I’m not going to get into what’s accurate and what isn’t,” said Anthopoulos. “Our interest was a one-year deal. We expressed that to the player. That’s as far as the dialogue went. This was where he wanted to be and he had a lot of strong relationships with players on our team.”

On Friday, March 7, it appeared as if the Jays had a deal and Santana was headed to Dunedin the next Tuesday for a physical. Then, the Braves realized how injured Medlen was on March 9and Santana signed with the Braves.

“After Medlen got hurt, (Santana) had interest in going to the NL,” said Anthopoulos. “I understand where he was coming from: it was NL versus AL East and he’s trying to set himself up for free agency (next winter).”

Do the Jays win with Santana? No.

Are they better? Likely.


Dustin McGowan was The Guy in 2000 when the Jays and scout Joe Siers made him 33rd overall in the June draft. The Jays had a pre-draft deal with Cambridge’s Scott Thorman, but he went three picks earlier to Atlanta. Since then?

McGowan’s usually been one of the other guys.

Like the next spring, when he sheepishly sat in the corner of the Dunedin clubhouse, looking like a Grade 7 student promoted Day 1 of high school with the Grade 12 class as Chris Carpenter, Joey Hamilton, Roy Halladay, Carlos Delgado, Jose Cruz Jr., and Raul Mondesi went about their work.

And all but Carpenter and Halladay, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch during Friday’s home opener against the Yankees, went about their work loudly.

Or when McGowan went through the loneliness of a Tommy John rehab surgery reporting daily to the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin.

Or the surgeries for a torn labrum in his right. A foot injury. An oblique injury. In a team sport, McGowan was often training and re-habbing on his lonesome.

And making his first start since 2011 on Friday, and just his fifth since 2008, McGowan was the other guy again.

Like Mark Portugal, who opposed Hideo Nomo in 2005, Zack Greinke against Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2007 or Hector Noesi facing Yu Darvish in 2012.

Or Tim Hudson, who was the first pitcher to face Ichiro Suzuki in 2001, and Halladay, the first to go against Hideki Matsui in 2003.

And in the Jays home opener, McGowan was the other guy against the Yankees in Masahiro Tanaka’s debut.

McGowan’s name has been mentioned in the Toronto Sun library 699 times. It was his 61st start and his 106th game.

You can guess how many of those references were comeback stories.

And McGowan almost barely got out of the first inning as, 19 pitches in, he was down 2-0 and, with one out, the bases loaded. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, Brett Gardner singled. Carlos Beltran singled in a run. An out later, Mark Teixeira singled in a run. Kelly Johnson singled to load the bases before McGowan escaped.

He lasted 2 2/3 innings, allowing four runs.

The comeback continues


Pre-game intros on the official press-box clapometer saw applause for Bautista and Brett Lawrie register the loudest. McGowan was next. Halladay took the mound for the ceremonial first pitch and the noise dwarfed them all.


Prior to first pitch a moment’s silence was held for Jim Fregosi, who would have been 72 on Friday, and former Jays scout Jorge Rivera, 64. Both died in February ... Fregosi managed the Jays to 84- and 83-win seasons in 1999 and 2000 before he was fired by president Paul Godfrey and then-GM Gord Ash ... Rivera scouted Puerto Rico. He signed Delgado the year before the draft arrived on the island. He also had three No. 1 picks in Alex Rios, Felipe Lopez and Miguel Negron.


For all the people who dislike the Rogers Centre, it wasn’t a bad place to be on Friday. Had the Jays still been playing games at Exhibition Stadium or another open-air stadia, the game would have been cancelled. The dome is why Jack Morris and Dave Winfield came here in 1992: To pitch and play in guaranteed good weather in April and September.