Walter Alston managed the Dodgers on one-year deals from 1954 through 1976 and no one ever really got bent-out-of-shape about him being a “lame duck” manager. These days, however, any manager who is only under contract for the current calendar year are supposed to be all antsy and in the cross-hairs and their contractual status is supposed to create all kinds of problems and distractions.
I’ll leave it to others to decide if that’s true — I’m inclined to believe it’s only an issue insofar as the lame duck manager’s insecurity allows it to be — but in the meantime, the Blue Jays and John Gibbons have devised a system so that’s never an issue: automatically vesting options that keep Gibbons on what amount to rolling two-year deals:
The way it works is that as long as the Blue Jays don’t fire him prior to the following Jan. 1, the option becomes guaranteed with another option added to the back end. For example, if Gibbons makes it to 2014, his 2015 option vests with another option added for 2016.
Which also means that if the Jays simply get fed up with him they are unavoidably going to have to pay Gibbons’ salary for at least one season while he hunts, fishes and watches TV or whatever. But the Jays apparently feel that risk is preferable to the risk of having Gibbons and the media and everyone wondering if he’ll get a contract extension to cover the following year.
(thanks to Brad P. for the heads up)
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.