10:47 AM Eastern
Monday evening, the Blue Jays announced that they’d signed Dustin McGowan to a two-year contract extension with an option for a third year. The deal begins with the 2013 season (McGowan will make $600,000 this year) and will pay him $1,500,000 in each of 2013 and 2014. The Blue Jays have a club option for $4,000,000 for the 2015 season. If they choose not to exercise it, it will cost them $500,000. Tuesday morning, Alex Anthopoulos and McGowan met with the assemblage to discuss the deal.
When Anthopuolos approached McGowan and his agent about an extension, the reasons were many. First of all, the Blue Jays love what they have seen out of McGowan this spring as far as mechanics and stuff, and they believe there’s a chance he could be an important piece of their starting rotation over the next few years. As well, they felt that they had come so far with McGowan in his recovery from the four surgeries he’s been through over the last eight years that they were invested in seeing the process through to the end, and not walking away from him after this season or letting him walk away from them as a free agent. Most importantly, said Anthopoulos, they love McGowan as a person. Like he did when he beamed about Jose Bautista during the news conference to announce his new contract a year ago, Anthopoulos said that he’s supremely confident in gambling on Dustin McGowan, the man. The Blue Jays are thrilled to have people the quality of McGowan, Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow setting an example for the huge group of kid pitchers with which they’re going to be overwhelmed in the next three or four years.
McGowan, who said he feels as though his new name is “How Do You Feel?”, said that for him, accepting the deal was a combination of wanting to show loyalty to the team that has stood by him lo these many years and wanting to grab guaranteed money when it’s offered, because it may never be offered to him again. He also says he feels great, except for the plantar fasciitis (about which he said, dismissively, “It’s just a foot”), and that while he knows enough not to push himself too hard, he thinks that he can pitch without limitation, up until the point at which things start to bother him, which they may not. Anthopoulos, too, refused to put a limit on what McGowan might be able to do this year – saying that there’s no hard and fast innings limit (some have discussed 120 as McGowan’s cap this season), but that they’ll monitor him very, very carefully throughout the season – strength tests and such – and will act at the first sign of anything abnormal. But if he keeps feeling great, they’ll let him go.
As far as the money goes, Anthopoulos said “no one looks like him” as far as comparables go, but then brought up Erik Bedard a couple of times and said that while he and a couple of others like him got million-dollar contracts with incentives they almost never reached, and then contracts in the four-million dollar neighbourhood later on, the Blue Jays don’t do incentive clauses (not as policy, just as a rule of thumb – that may change), so they upped the base on McGowan’s earlier years and kept that option year at four.
It was easy to see, throughout the 25-minute chat with the assemblage, in how high an esteem Anthopoulos holds McGowan, and also how much McGowan wants to be in Toronto and contribute to the Blue Jays at the major-league level. There’s no question he has ace stuff and there’s no question he’s a top-notch human being. There are two rather large questions, though -and those are: Can he stay healthy and can he get back to the point where he commands his stuff well enough to have success in the big leagues? Those questions will remain unanswered for a while, but those questions are why the Blue Jays were able to lock him up for a combined $7.6 million over the next four years, if they want him around the whole time.
Here’s the audio of the entire news conference, for your listening pleasure:
Tonight, the Blue Jays head east across the causeway to take on the Yankees in Tampa. Kyle Drabek will start and is expected to throw five innings and be followed by Sergio Santos, Casey Janssen and Francisco Cordero. CC Sabathia gets the call for the Yankees, and will be followed by Hiroki Kuroda. We’ll have the game for you along the Blue Jays Radio Network starting at 7:00PM Eastern, with The JaysTalk to follow. Join us, won’t you?
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