Lind, Jays reach four-year deal
Deal includes three club options through 2016
HOUSTON -- Adam Lind stood behind a podium at Minute Maid Park on Saturday, running through a list of people he wanted to thank for helping make his new contract with the Blue Jays possible. He mentioned a few of his teammates, his agent, general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his sister.
"And most of all, my parents, for making me," Lind said with a grin as his audience broke into laughter. "I'm glad that it has amounted to this."
The Blue Jays have handed Lind a four-year contract worth $18 million guaranteed, making it clear that the organization views the young left-handed hitter as an integral piece within its long-term vision. The deal includes three club options that could keep Lind in the fold through 2016, making his contract potentially worth $38.5 million over seven years.
This comes after Lind emerged as one of the top young sluggers in the American League in 2009, and as Toronto heads into a new era of reshaping its roster with an aim at sustained success. Anthopoulos believes Lind is the type of player the team should build around, and the rookie general manager handled the contract negotiations personally over the past month.
By signing Lind to the extension, Anthopoulos feels the Blue Jays are making a statement. The GM believes it shows Toronto's players that the club is loyal and willing to lock up its budding stars for long periods of time. Anthopoulos said it also shows Blue Jays fans that ownership is committed to spending wisely in order to turn the franchise around.
Anthopoulos also thinks it can help attract other players to Toronto.
"It's vital and critical in so many ways," Anthopoulos said. "Adam Lind is a great player. Especially when you draft and develop your own players, and you can keep them for the long-term and they make the commitment to this organization and this franchise, I think it's an indication of their belief in the ownership of the team and the baseball operations of the team.
"Hopefully it will entice other players, other free agents or some of the players we have on the roster, to sign long-term here and continue to build a winner."
Under the terms of his new deal, the 26-year-old Lind will have a base salary of $400,000 this season, along with a $600,000 signing bonus. Lind is scheduled to earn $5 million in each of the 2011-13 seasons, which would have been his three arbitration years. He would have been eligible for free agency after the '13 season, but the Jays now have the option of keeping him longer.
Following the 2013 season, the Blue Jays can either excercise a $7 million club option for the '14 campaign or buy out Lind's contract for $2 million. The deal includes a $7.5 million club option or a $1 million buyout clause for '15 and then an $8 million club option or a $500,000 buyout for the 2016 season. Toronto will make a decision on the club options on a yearly basis after 2013.
Lind said the deal definitely delivers a message.
"It just means that we're going to try to win," Lind said. "[The Blue Jays and ownership have] pretty savvy business people and they obviously know what takes to win in the Canadian market. I don't think they'd do this for any other reason but to put a champion out on the field."
Anthopoulos first approached Lind about a long-term deal in October, but the negotiations did not begin to really heat up until the beginning of March. Before tackling Lind's future with the club, Anthopoulos had other items to check off his list: reorganizing the coaching staff, retooling the scouting and player-development departments and trading ace Roy Halladay.
It was not until last month that Anthopoulos was really able to hammer out the details of Lind's contract with his agent, John Courtright.
"I remember even talking to Adam at the beginning of Spring Training," Anthopoulos said, "and being apologetic that I hadn't gotten an ofer to him yet. Once things settled down a little, I spent a lot of time on it. His agent was outstanding."
For Lind, the decision to sign long-term with the Blue Jays made sense both from a professional and personal standpoint. Beyond the fact that the organization was offering financial security and a chance to be a big part of the core group of players, Lind's fiancee is from Toronto, and they are planning on getting married next offseason.
"It's great to be here," Lind said. "Toronto will be my second home."
Lind's contract does not come without risk, though.
Last year, Lind pieced together a strong season, hitting .305 with 35 home runs, 46 doubles and 114 RBIs. He won an American League Silver Slugger Award as a DH and was also handed the Edgar Martinez Award, honoring him as the best DH in the league. He ranked second in the league with 81 extra-base hits and was the first left-handed hitter to notch at least 100 RBIs in a season for the Jays since Carlos Delgado in 2003.
The only problem was that it was the first really strong season of Lind's career.
Anthopoulos said that was taken into consideration.
"It was only one year," Anthopoulos said. "That's the risk that we decided to take. We believe in the player. We also understand that, as much as we're right sometimes with scouting, we're also wrong in our evaluations. But from my standpoint, the evaluation of the person is equally as important.
"There's a lot of talented players in baseball, but they may not represent what you want to be about."
The Jays believe Lind meets both criteria.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.