As the Blue Jays watch David Price head to Boston, reports of Toronto not making an official offer have inaccurately fueled the anti-Shapiro and anti-Rogers crowds
Like Pulp Fiction’s Jules Winnfield, the hot takes following Boston’s signing of David Price struck down with great vengeance and furious anger. We’d been betrayed by Rogers yet again, with Mark Shapiro continuing to cobble together his small-market budget team. Yes, the team that’s handed out over $60 million to Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ before the majority of MLB teams make their first signing. But that’s a shouting match for another day.
Part of me expected Eddie and the Rogers crowd to give Price the Alex Anthopoulos treatment on the way out of town. Thanking him for his time while repeatedly and not-so-subtly stating that they are disappointed in his decision to leave and his decision to reject a contract that, quite possibly, wasn’t even on the table.
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Instead, we’ve been left with this report from TSN’s Rick Westhead. “The Blue Jays did not make an offer to free-agent pitcher David Price,” it begins. Which, when paired with a title of “Jays did not make contract offer to David Price”, is a perfect combination to spark anger and emotion from Blue Jays fans. Without, of course, the context required when it comes to MLB contract negotiations. Which makes the non-offer a non-story.
The MLB offseason isn’t a silent auction for a painting that you don’t want at your child’s Elementary School fundraiser, with dozens of written bids submitted for one ultimate choice.
The MLB offseason also is not the NHL offseason, where the avalanche of first-day signings necessitates a day-long television special called Free Agent Frenzy, with a dozen men in suits frantically hammering at their Blackberries and churning out signing after signing. That’s not how baseball works.
“The source also told TSN that the Blue Jays will not make contract offers to free agent pitcher Zack Greinke or to first baseman Chris Davis,” the report continues. Which, I hope, we’ve all long since accepted.
Getting back to the concept of not offering Price a contract, Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner had some valuable words on this topic last week when speaking with Ben Ennis on The Fan 590. He continued to refer to MLB contract negotiations as a completely “fluid” act, and repeatedly cautioned against the definition of what we consider to be an “official offer”.
An official offer, in the terms that we’re left to work with here, is a hard dollar value that’s put on the table with the understanding that “This is our offer, and if you like it, you’re a Blue Jay.” The lack of this official offer says extremely little about the Jays pursuit of Price, or Greinke and Davis for that matter.
In those situations, or any free agent negotiation, Tony LaCava or Mark Shapiro exist in a constant state of dialogue. Checking in with the player and agent to get a read on where the current offers are, then backing away. Re-establishing dialogue a week later to see where the interest and dollar-values have gone, then deciding whether to act or move on.
This story that the Blue Jays did not make a contract offer is a buzz-worthy way to tell a very small and selective part of a much larger story. Frankly, it’s an irritating angle. Not because I have any issue with the Blue Jays failing to hand out the richest pitching contract in MLB history, but because this one “non-offer” will taint fan reaction to the next month of transactions. Which it really shouldn’t.
Yesterday, there were 29 Major League teams that did not sign David Price. Chances are, at least two or three of those 29 will creep into the playoffs. Somehow, someway. Hell, one might even win the World Series. All of this despite the fact that they didn’t submit an “official” offer. Whatever that means.