The non-tender deadline came and went with merely a whimper from the Jays who despite wide-spread speculation of allowing more of its players to become free agents, encouraged in Indianapolis even if not directly by new GM Alex Anthopoulos, decided to offer contracts to all but one (catcher Raul Chavez) of their nine arbitration-eligible players, including the disgruntled reliever Jeremy Accardo.
The free-spirited righthander has been jerked around by the organization ever since being acquired in the hastily put together dump of Shea Hillenbrand back in the summer of '06. Accardo found out this summer via his constant promotions and demotions that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas -- and the other way around. In fact, in coming up a few days short of four full seasons of major-league service, it has tied him to whatever his major-league club for one extra season before reaching six years of service and real free agency. Major-league teams have often been known to manipulate these service days especially when a player has remaining options like Accardo did last summer. How do we know he's disgruntled? His agent told Jordan Bastian of MLB.com that he was hoping to not be sent a contract by Saturday at midnight (non-tendered) and there was that little incident in the Oakland clubhouse this summer when he was sent to Vegas before a game, was not available to speak to the media and his Jays' jersey was observed sitting in the garbage can. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes.
In any case, the Jays clearly decided that they would rather have inventory in the form of players that could be traded or added into packages as the winter progresses. Besides none of these guys are real stiffs and all of the arbitration decisions in February should be quite reasonable. Besides, if they don't like any of the monetary decisions from an arbitrator as the season gets close they can still release that player and pay off approximately one-sixth of the 2010 contract or about 17-percent.
As for Chavez, there was no real reason to offer him arbitration considering the number of similar catchers that are out there in free-agency. The list of free agents catchers, besides Chavez, includes Brad Ausmus, Paul Bako, Rod Barajas, Josh Bard, John Buck, Ramon Castro, Jason LaRue, the Fabulous Molina Boys, Bengie and Jose, Miguel Olivo, Mike Redmond, Shawn Riggans, Mike Rivera and Yorvit Torrealba. In addition, the Jays may be getting a starting catcher back in the Roy Haladay deal. Although few are the major-league teams that have entered a new year with zero catchers on the roster which is what the Jays now have.
The list of players that are arbitration eligible for the Jays and that were sent qualifying contracts at the deadline -- Jose Bautista, Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet, Accardo, Shawn Camp, Brandon League, Dustin McGowan and Shawn Marcum -- combined to earn just under $8.0 million in 2009. Give them a combined 20-percent bump in arbitration (Marcum and McGowan did not play) and the new commitment comes out to $9.6 million for the nine players. Add that to the committed $60.75 million that is already assigned to eight players -- Vernon Wells ($21.0), Halladay ($15.75), Lyle Overbay ($7.0), Edwin Encarnacion ($4.75), Scott Downs ($4.0), Aaron Hill ($4.0), Alex Gonzalez ($2.75) and John McDonald ($1.5) -- and you begin the 2010 off-season with a payroll of $70.35 million for 16 players. To come in at last season's payroll, that leaves about $10 million for 10 players (McGowan will be on the DL at the start of the season). That's reasonable enough and gives Anthopoulos some flexibility to make deals. Stay tuned.