Now the real fun begins for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The American League club completed some business on Tuesday, signing second baseman Kelly Johnson and outfielder Ben Francisco to one-year contracts.
The Blue Jays were unable to come to terms with starting pitcher Brandon Morrow and reliever Casey Janssen, which means the one-year salaries for the 2012 season of both players, if it comes to that, will be determined next month during arbitration hearings.
The last time the Blue Jays went to arbitration was with Bill Risley in 1997.
“I don’t think it was anybody drawing lines in the sand or anything like that,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on Tuesday, when asked if he felt the club came close to getting an agreement signed with both Morrow and Janssen.
Tuesday was the salary figure exchange deadline for arbitration-eligible players as determined by Major League Baseball, and Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays were set to do so with both Morrow and Janssen.
The Blue Jays have a club policy that once those figures are exchanged, the only way an arbitration hearing can be avoided is if the player agrees to a multi-year deal.
If such a deal can’t be hammered out, the player’s 2012 salary will be determined through arbitration, which will take place in Florida between Feb. 1 and 20.
While it is likely that the Blue Jays might be willing to go longer term with both players, Anthopoulos is never one to tip his hand during negotiations.
But he said arbitration doesn’t necessarily have to be antagonistic, pitting player against management during a hearing where each side presents its case as to how much they believe the player is worth.
“I think we’re all on the same page, that we like the players and we want to give them a raise,” Anthopoulos said. “What we can’t see eye to eye on is how much of a raise to give them. So the third party’s got to get involved to tell us what the right amount is. We don’t have a problem with that.”
Morrow’s value could be difficult to determine.
Although he went 11-11 last season with a 4.72 earned run average, he was inconsistent at times. He surrendered 21 home runs, almost double the number he allowed the previous year.
Morrow earned $2.3-million (all currency U.S.) with the Blue Jays in 2011 while Janssen, who was 6-0 with a 2.26 ERA, made about $1.2-million.
Johnson, who came to the Blue Jays in late August in a trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, signed a one-year deal worth $6.3-million.
Francisco’s deal will pay him $2.3-million over 2012.
The Blue Jays also announced they have given infielder Mark Teahen his unconditional release.
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