Word on the street is that 42-year-old relief pitcher Darren Oliver will retire if the Blue Jays don’t add a few bucks onto his salary.
Oliver’s 2013 option was picked up by the club after he pitched to a 2.06 ERA in 56 2/3 innings in 2012. The veteran left-handed pitchers $3 million option is well below market value.
“Oliver’s perspective is that the Jays already have demonstrated an ‘all-in’ approach by making their blockbuster with the Miami Marlins and another trade with the New York Mets for right-hander R.A. Dickey. Why not extend a little more, particularly for a pitcher who has given the team a strong clubhouse presence in addition to elite performance?” – Foxsports.com
With an projected organization record of a +$120 million team salary for 2013, there may be very little wiggle room for the additional dollars and sources say the Blue Jays would have to make cuts in different area’s just to pay him the original $3 million.
What Should Toronto Do?
Oliver agreed to a one-year $4.5 million contract with the Blue Jays in January 2012, figuring that he likely would retire at the end of the season. The deal was front-loaded at Oliver’s request, including the $3 million club option with a $500,000 buyout in 2013. But Oliver went on to produce a career-best season and Toronto exercised his option.
Option 1: Buy him out
It is highly unlikely that Oliver will produce anywhere near the same numbers he did in 2012. His WHIP was .400 lower than his career average and while his ERA has fallen each year since 2007, his number of innings has sharply decreased.
Option 2: Trade him
Oliver’s family calls the Dallas area home, and he pitched most of his career as a member of the Rangers. Sources say he would be open to a trade back to Texas. He could also be more flexible financially if he was closer to home.
Option 3: 1 year $5,000,000 deal to stay
It’s been rumored that Toronto doesn’t even have the original $3 million for 2013, but say they come up with the money. They can hope he can somewhat produce the numbers he did in 2013, and continue to be the positive clubhouse presence he is said to be. On top of that, if the Blue Jays do what is expected of them and play beyond September, retain a playoff veteran who has 13 series’ and 41.2 playoff innings under his belt.
The Blue Jays pen should be good enough without him, but it would be wrong to say they absolutely don’t need him. However, at this point most fans agree that he should be paid what he agreed to be paid… or he can retire.