Scott Boras isn't thrilled with how the Blue Jays handled Aaron Sanchez's new contract
The Blue Jays will pay Aaron Sanchez the league minimum salary of $535,000 in 2017
The 2016 season was a breakout year for Blue Jays right-hander Aaron Sanchez. The 24-year-old went 15-2 with an AL best 3.00 ERA (143 ERA+) in 192 innings, which earned him an All-Star Game selection and seventh place finish in the AL Cy Young voting. Sanchez ranked fifth among all qualified starters with a 54.4 percent ground-ball rate.
A performance like that deserves a raise, right? Well, not this time. The Blue Jays unilaterally renewed Sanchez’s contract at the $535,000 league minimum for the 2017 season after he was unhappy with the modest raise they offered. As a player in his pre-arbitration years, Sanchez had little negotiating leverage, and the team had the right to renew his contract at any salary. They chose the minimum.
Needless to say, Sanchez’s agent Scott Boras isn’t pleased with his client’s 2017 salary. He told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet having your contract renewed at the minimum is the “harshest treatment any team could provide a player.” Here’s more from Boras, via Davidi:
“They offered him a very small raise above the minimum, which is not commensurate to his performance peers,” Boras said in an interview with Sportsnet. “Some teams have very low payment standards but they say if you renew we understand, but you still keep the money we’re giving you. Toronto is so rigid, they not only have a very antiquated or substandard policy compared to the other teams for extraordinary performance, but if you don’t accept what that low standard is, they then have the poison pill of saying, you get paid the minimum. It’s the harshest treatment in baseball that any club could provide for a player. That’s why few teams have such a policy.”
Most clubs have a sliding salary scale for pre-arbitration players based on service time, with escalators for things like All-Star Game appearances and finishes in awards voting. A lot of times when the two sides are unable to come to an agreement, the team will renew the player’s contract at whatever salary they were offering, not the league minimum. Toronto’s longstanding policy has been to renew the player at the league minimum if they’re unable to agree to terms. More from Davidi:
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins disagreed with Boras’ depiction of the policy as a punitive one “because it’s their choice, they could have accepted that number.”
“This is a policy that was put in place 10 years ago,” he added. “I don’t see it as punitive, we don’t see it as punitive because it’s your choice to not accept the higher number.”
It’s easy to understand why Sanchez and Boras would be upset. First they were offered what they felt was an insufficient raise, then the team renewed Sanchez’s contract at the minimum rather than continue to negotiate. That’s a good way to save a few bucks, but not a good way to maintain a happy player-team relationship.
It should be noted this tactic is not unprecedented. The Yankees did this exact same thing with Dellin Betances last year. They offered him a small raise, Betances and his agent felt it wasn’t enough, so the team renewed him at the league minimum. The Yankees and Betances went to an arbitration hearing this year, which the team won, . It was ugly.
Sanchez will be eligible for arbitration for the first time next year and, hopefully, the Blue Jays and Atkins will be a bit more professional than Levine should they wind up in a hearing. Boras and Sanchez are upset and understandably so. They felt they were treated unfairly. This doesn’t mean the relationship between the Blue Jays and Sanchez is forever broken, however. This is a business and the two sides could simply put this behind them and move forward.