Jays ink all arbitration-eligible players
Frasor tops list of five pitchers reaching agreements
TORONTO -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos played hardball, and the club's remaining arbitration-eligible players decided against seeing if he was bluffing.
Anthopoulos made Tuesday the unofficial deadline for contract negotiations with pitchers Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet, Shawn Camp, Jeremy Accardo and Casey Janssen, and all five signed contracts rather than face an arbitration hearing in February. As a result, Toronto extended its streak of avoiding that step in the process to 13 years in a row.
"The goal, both from the player and agent and the club side, the goal is always to get a deal done," Anthopoulos said on Tuesday. "I think the policy that we put in place, all it did and all it was designed to do was to encourage more dialogue."
This offseason, Anthopoulos implemented a new policy of cutting off contract talks after Tuesday's 1 p.m. ET deadline for the exchange of salary figures. If an exchange took place with any of Toronto's eligible players, the Blue Jays would have let an arbitrator determine his 2010 salary.
That's a change from the way things operated under former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi, who was dismissed on the final weekend of last season. As an assistant under Ricciardi, Anthopoulos learned the ins and outs of the arbitration process, and he decided the new policy could benefit all sides.
"In the last four years that I've done arbitration negotiations," Anthopoulos said, "it seems like we'd spend a lot of time and a lot of money -- manpower, lawyer's fees and so on -- and we would end up getting deals done in late January or in February, and it was really because we didn't have a lot of dialogue early on in the process."
In the event that the Jays were not able to strike a deal with any of the players in question, Anthopoulos said there would have been no wiggle room to the club's altered stance.
"We would've 100 percent held firm -- I think we have to," Anthopoulos said. "That's the point. Otherwise, it's truly not a deadline. It's a soft one, but I think everybody understands that. We're certainly not the first club to do this, and we're not the only club to do this. This is not an adversarial thing at all."
Frasor received the largest raise, settling on a one-year pact worth $2.65 million after earning $1.45 million last year -- a difference of $1.2 million. Tallet signed for $2 million, Camp agreed to a $1.15 million contract, Accardo inked a $1.08 million deal and Janssen penned his name on a contract worth $700,000. On Monday, right-handed starter Shaun Marcum avoided arbitration with a $850,000 deal.
Frasor is coming off a career season -- filling in as Toronto's closer for much of the 2009 campaign -- and will be in the mix for the ninth-inning role again this year. The right-hander finished 7-3 with a 2.50 ERA over 61 games, collecting 11 saves and striking out 56 hitters over 57 2/3 innings. Frasor is eligible for free agency next winter.
Frasor will likely be competing against lefty Scott Downs for the closing duties this spring.
"You saw the way that [manager Cito Gaston] used him and Downs at the end of the year," Anthopoulos said. "They both have some experience with being able to close games out. I think Cito will make that determination."
Tallet, 32, earned $1.015 million last year and was due for a raise after helping out as a starter for the Blue Jays last season. The left-hander appeared in 37 games, including 25 starts, going 7-9 with a 5.32 ERA over a career-high 160 2/3 innings for Toronto.
Anthopoulos noted that it is undetermined whether Tallet will be in the rotation or the bullpen for the upcoming season.
"We do have some youth in our rotation," Anthopoulos said. "Knowing Brian has the ability to start, but he's also done a very good job for us in the 'pen the few years before that, that's what makes him so valuable for us -- the ability to perform both roles well. ... We'll just see how some of the kids look in camp."
The 34-year-old Camp, who signed as a free agent with the club prior to the 2008 season, is entering his third year as a reliever for the Jays. Last year, Camp established career bests with a 3.50 ERA, 17 games finished and 58 strikeouts over 79 2/3 innings. Overall, Camp has gone 15-20 with a 4.74 ERA and seven saves in 295 big league games between tours with the Royals, Rays and Jays.
Accardo split last season between Triple-A Las Vegas and Toronto's bullpen and will be in the mix for a relief job again this spring for the Blue Jays. The right-hander made $900,000 last season and finished with a 2.55 ERA over 26 games with Toronto.
Janssen, 28, appeared in 21 games, including five starts, for the Blue Jays last season after missing all of the 2008 campaign with a right shoulder issue. Janssen finished 2-4 with a 5.85 ERA last year for Toronto and has gone 10-17 with a 4.27 ERA and seven saves over 110 career games split as a starter and reliever for the Jays.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.