Mar 25, 2014; Lakeland, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Ervin Santana (30) reacts during the first inning against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The Major League Baseball Players Union had already signed off on the deferral proposal. Per Rosenthal, the deferments were contingent on the players involved receiving more money on the back-end of their existing deals.
Of course, that all meant that the only hurdle to get over was getting Ervin Santana to agree to the deal and join the Blue Jays, something that looked almost certain on March 10th. However the Atlanta Braves, fresh off their own issues with their pitching staff (Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy landing on the Tommy John train) swooped in and gave Santana the same money, but the promise of pitching in a National League ballpark on his pillow contract.
That move left Blue Jays fans in a state of dismay, and left the front office scrambling with a way to fill at least one spot in the rotation. An open competition`for the fifth starter spot resulted with J.A. Happ on the DL, Ricky Romero and Marcus Stroman back in the minors, Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers in the bullpen, and a non-stretched out Dustin McGowan given the keys by default.
The question now of course comes down to whether Santana not only chose the Braves because of the National League component, but also because he felt the Blue Jays did him wrong. Santana sat on the market for the entire winter, waiting for his deal to come through, with perhaps some of that blame coming from rumors he was looking for a deal north of $100 million over 5 seasons. However, Toronto played their own games with the market, waiting for a free agent desperate enough to take their bottom line offer and sign with the Blue Jays out of need. That never occurred, as free agent after free agent signed with other teams, with Santana being the last.
That lead to more and more speculation about Rogers Communications’ commitment to the team, despite having the 10th highest Opening Day payroll in baseball, with $132 million committed to players. Blue Jays president Paul Beeston defended their ownership’s commitment, noting that while they have a high commitment of money spent, they also have a budget in place of what they can spend. However, that falls on deaf ears of fans who saw this team needing a very pointed improvement in the rotation and watched the team basically feign interest.
What does this mean in future years when roster spots need to be filled? Does this mean the 3-year window with this roster is really down to 2 with the hope that internal options fill the large holes and make a miracle happen? What does this say as Toronto as a free agent destination even if the money were available?
What it does say in the short team is that the Blue Jays played a game that they were destined to lose, when outside of money constraints, they had no reason to play.