Darren Oliver Wants More Money to Play in Toronto
MLB insiders and Darren Oliver’s agent, former Blue Jay Jeff Frye, are reporting that Oliver will either request a trade to the Rangers to be closer to his family in Texas, retire, or come back to Toronto…if there is a raise involved. Oliver, 42, signed a one-year deal worth $4 million for the 2012 season with a $3 million club option for 2013. It’s reported that when he signed the contract, he planned to retire after 2012 so he didn’t care about the option. Now he wants to play, but only for more money.
As much as I hate when players hold out for more when they have already signed a contract, I sort of see Oliver’s perspective. I’m not saying I agree with what he’s doing, but I understand where he is coming from. He’s 42 (not some early 20′s star holding out), coming off the best season of his career, probably only wants to play one more year, and doesn’t want to do it at a pay cut. Especially when other relievers in his category are getting anywhere from $4 -6 million per season.
Then there is the side of me that says, well you shouldn’t have signed the contract with a club option for only $3 million.
But let’s look at this: the Jays bullpen is undoubtably better with Oliver as a part of it. This guy truly is like a fine wine; His ERA for the past six seasons has gotten better every year:
2007 – 3.78
2008 – 2.88
2009 – 2.71
2010 – 2.48
2011 – 2.29
2012 – 2.06
He hasn’t had an ERA higher than 3.78 in seven seasons (was 3.44 in 2006). Even if he regresses a bit from last year (which I would expect), I would expect more an average of the past 5 seasons – which is outstanding.
So these become the questions: how much more does he want? And do the Jays set a precedent if they give in to his demands? I hope either they give him the raise or let him retire. I know he’s played 19 seasons and wants to play his last one with the Rangers near his home, but we are making a push to win it all and could use him this year. I doubt we’d have any leverage with Texas in a trade.
Not giving Oliver a few more dollars is a bit of a risk too. He’s just so good – 2.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 52 strikeouts in 56.2 innings last season and only 15 walks. And if this is the Jays year to go for it and a guy like Oliver puts them over the hump in the post season, well, pay the man.