Blue Jays rumors: Petit talks, not-so-petit Axford contract


The Blue Jays have reportedly continued talks with reliever Yusmeiro Petit, but the recent John Axford contract has further inflated the market

It’s been another quiet day for the Blue Jays in Nashville. The signing of Ben Zobrist and continued action on the trade market should keep transactions churning at a steady rate, but so far, Toronto hasn’t found a point at which they’re comfortable jumping in.

Along with some continued Joe Blanton links, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports that Toronto held talks with former San Francisco Giants swingman Yusmeiro Petit for the second day. He notes that an NL East team is also interested in Petit, so perhaps the specificity of this suggests he’s dealing with a group of final considerations.

Petit has flashed serious talent over stretches since resurfacing with the Giants in 2012, most notably his six-inning performance in extra innings of the NLDS in 2014. He maintained a strong level of success in a primary bullpen role this past season, but unless Toronto sees value in shifting him closer to the back end of the ‘pen or stretching him out again, his value as a fifth relief arm could be a little too rich.

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The free agent and trade prices for pitching have been extremely steep, but contracts like the one Oakland handed to John Axford earlier today are worrying for the Blue Jays. Originally misreported by some as a “$1 million” deal, to which I didn’t blink an eye in assuming it was a one-year deal, it turns out that was a typo. Instead, Axford will earn $10 million over two years. With $4 million in games finished incentives. Mercy.

Being Oakland, Axford will surely turn into a deadline trade chip in one of the coming two seasons, but that $5 million annual salary (and multi-year term) is another piece of good news for the lower-level arms in this market. The more money given to names like Axford, the more money others of their calibre can demand.

Petit’s market will rely heavily on which role teams consider him to fill, but for an arm like Blanton, who posted a 1.1 WAR and comes with potential following a recent transition into a bullpen role, Axford’s salary could be a fair estimate.

Toronto seems to be taking a stance of patience by default, but that’s still not an admission of failure here. The rioting would be more warranted if the season began tomorrow, and it’s important to remember the Jays’ only takeaway from the 2015 Winter Meetings was Chris Colabello, a move widely met with groans. Front office changes don’t exactly expedite transactions, either. Plenty of time remains, and as always, it just needs to be used well.