So it turns out that while Dustin McGowan was in the trainers’ room for 3 1/2 hours Monday morning, he was also hammering out a contract extension with the Blue Jays the final touches of which, we’re told, were done after he and the assembled media had left the ballpark for the day.
McGowan, currently rehabbing plantar fasciitis in his right foot, signed a two-year extension worth $3 million with a third-year club option for $4 million. The contract kicks in for the 2013 season – he’ll make $600,000 this year.
McGowan’s story is an amazing one, and has been recounted many times over the past few months. Forget the Tommy John surgery, that happened forever ago (2004). Since McGowan first went down with a shoulder injury on July 8, 2008, he ‘s had that right shoulder operated on twice and has had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee. He finally made his way back to the big leagues last September, and while his numbers weren’t good at all, he still allowed fewer hits than innings pitched and struck out 20 in 21 innings of work.
The contract is both a reward for McGowan’s years of hard work and perseverance and a good financial gamble for the Blue Jays. Sure, there’s a chance that McGowan never returns to the level of performance that he’d just started to establish before he got hurt – he had a 1.22 WHIP in 2007, the year that included his near no-hitter against the Rockies. His numbers were down the next season as he fought the shoulder problems.
The chance that McGowan doesn’t get back to that – or better than that, as had been projected for him (remember, people used to talk about him as a potential 1A with Roy Halladay) – is far greater than the chance that he does, but the Blue Jays spent a pittance in order to find out.
The $3 million guaranteed to McGowan over two years is nothing in terms of big-league budget. He’ll make less than 2% of the club’s overall payroll each of the next three seasons including this one (less than 1% this year, actually), which is ridiculous for a member of the starting rotation who has been eligible for free agency. If McGowan doesn’t work out, the Blue Jays lose $3 million. If he does, they get a rotation piece for $7.6 million over the next four years. Despite all the negativity that came out about the deal on Twitter in the aftermath of the announcement, there really is no regrettable downside to the contract. And yes, there is a comparison to Jose Bautista’s deal. Bautista cashed in huge after only one great season, which is the risk that the Blue Jays bought with their $3 million.
On a personal note, I’m thrilled for McGowan. He’s a really nice guy with a big-time arm, and after all the crap he’s gone through the last three years, for him to get any kind of guaranteed money at all is a huge plus. I’m hopeful that he’ll be able to come all the way back to be able to command the great stuff he still has. If he never does, it cost three million dollars to see if he could. For the potential payoff, it’s well worth it.
Also, some audio treats for you! Even though we’ll have to go back to the ballpark Tuesday morning to talk to McGowan about the new deal, only 9 1/2 hours prior to the first pitch of that night’s Blue Jays game, having to wait that long to talk to Dustin today did enable us to speak to a couple of other important Blue Jays types – Ricky Romero and John Farrell.
Romero threw about 96 pitches in seven innings of a minor-league game against the Tigers, and though he gave up 13 hits, only allowed four runs, something he took as a silver lining in an otherwise rough start. Here’s what Romero had to say when he came out of the game:
And when Ricky’s day was done, Farrell left the premises, too. Farrell talked to us not only about his ace, but about McGowan’s rehab (no one knew about the contract yet, of course) and how Jose Bautista is doing after getting hit in the hand by Daniel Bard Sunday afternoon. Here’s that audio, for your listening pleasure:
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