Darren Oliver: Raise, Trade, Or Retirement


May 17, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Darren Oliver (38) during their game against the New York Yankees at the Rogers Centre. The Blue Jays beat the Yankees 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports42-year-old middle relievers generally do not carry much clout when it comes to demands for raises. That apparently has not stopped Blue Jays left-hander Darren Oliver from trying to puff out his chest anyway.

According to Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi at FoxSports, Major League “sources” are saying that Oliver is offering the Blue Jays an ultimatum; give him more money, trade him to Texas, or he will retire.

There is no doubt that the 19-year veteran is coming off of the best season of his career, a year which saw him post a 2.06 ERA, an 8.3 K/9 ratio, and a bWAR of 1.9 for the Blue Jays in 2012. That said, Toronto signed him prior to last season to a one year contract, worth $4 million. That deal included a club option worth $3 million or a $500,000 buy-out. The Blue Jays accommodated Oliver’s request to front-load the contract, but now that the market for relievers unjustifiably blew up, Oliver wants to renegotiate a deal that already has his signature.

The Blue Jays should want nothing to do with that.

Let’s look at this from the Blue Jays perspective for a minute, as we’re inclined to do because, after all, we are a Blue Jays orientated site.

Toronto has already accommodated Oliver once, in his initial deal, by front-loading the contract, something Oliver requested because he anticipated 2012 being his final season. Alex Anthopoulos rightfully included a club option, and exercised said option, in order to secure Oliver’s services for 2013. That seemed to be a fairly reasonable trade-off.

Now, because of the market correction and Blue Jays’ decision to finally take on salaries, Oliver feels that he has room to demand a raise or a trade. Neither suits the Blue Jays in 2013.

Toronto is not inclined to give Oliver a raise, especially after significantly increasing their overall payroll exponentially. However,letting Oliver voluntarily retire costs the Blue Jays nothing, as his salary becomes null and void unless he is forced to sit out the season due to injury. As I stated recently, the presence of Aaron Loup give the Blue Jays plenty of flexibility in regards to replacing Oliver. That said, the Blue Jays could actually save money by letting Oliver walk away.

Trading the lefty, while seemingly attractive in terms of netting the Blue Jays something in return, is not really that simple. Oliver only wants to be moved to Texas, where his family lives. That reduces the available market for his services, and as such, reduces the possibly return Toronto could get in return, especially with Jon Daniels knowing the A.A. is being held over a barrel. The Blue Jays are not going to pull off a Larry Anderson for Jeff Bagwell type of trade here, and Jurickson Profar or Mike Olt are most definitely coming north of the border in return. Toronto would be lucky to even get Robbie Ross back.

No, in the end, it is probably safe to expect Oliver to saddle up and ride off into the sunset. We’d love to see him return, but this team has no room for me-first individuals any longer.