Blue Jays Rip Off Matt Stairs
For a while it was looking questionable that the best Canadian Jay of all time would end his career in Toronto. After declaring his love for playing north of the border all season, Matt Stairs made some comments that sounded like playing time could be a issue, and in an ominous move for anyone who reads between the lines of press releases, called off negotiations until the season was over and then filed for free agency. But today he signed on the dotted line and said that playing time was never an issue. No, really! He just didn’t want to talk about the damn contract during the season. I love this man.
This contract was an absolute steal for the Jays. It was rumoured that Matt could command over three million a season, and he ended up signing for 3.25 over two years, with $50,000 in incentives for playing time. It’s absolutely impossible that no other team wouldn’t have signed him for significantly more than that on the open market. 1.62 million is twice what he made last season, but not a lot for the second-best hitter on the team last season, a player who over 350 at-bats was ranked 7th in the entire American League in slugging average last season.
Frankly, it’s a little embarrassing- last year we gave another aging slugger six times the cash to play a limited role (DH), and they had similar seasons. We just signed a lifetime utility infielder with an OBP under .300 to a richer contract. But what do you expect from a guy who actually goes on record saying his profession is overpaid?
I think the Major Leagues or any of the professional leagues, be it the NFL, NBA or NHL, are getting out of hand. I think when you’re paying players $15, $16 or $17 million it’s messed up. That should be reserved for people who save lives. I don’t think it should go to a bunch of grownups chasing a baseball.
Even if Stairs regresses to the .260-with-some-left-handed-pop-off-the-bench guy we were expecting this year, the team still needs that kind of depth. It does pose an problem in left field, though. It seems like J.P. is leaning towards giving Lind some more time in AAA, but are we really going to sign Reed Johnson for another 3 million dollars when Stairs can outhit him against righties? That hasn’t sounded likely for a while, but J.P. mentioned to the CBC that he would “spell off” Reed Johnson in left field, so either he’s being politic to a player still with the team or there’s still a possibility Sparky will get another chance.
- Update: J.P. has all but confirmed that Reed Johnson would be our starting Left fielder in 2008 on the Jays’ main page. Two crowd-pleasers in one day! Now what the heck do we do if Lind starts mashing the ball in AAA like he did in September??
- Random funny thing: As the season ended, an Jordan Bastian article came out on the Jays’ home page that clearly suggested Matt Stairs was in demand this offseason and bound for a big raise. It was originally titled “Jays may have to pony up for Stairs” (you can still see this title on sites like SI that keep an archive of the stories) but that was changed within a day to “Jays will see if they get to keep Stairs”. Maybe someone suggested that the implication was not going to help negotiations much?