Five Blue Jays players were willing to defer salary to help bring Ervin Santana to Toronto

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John Lott of the National Post reports that the five highest-paid Blue Jays — Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle — were willing to defer part of their 2014 salaries, reportedly close to $3 million apiece, so that the club could sign then-free agent pitcher Ervin Santana.

According to Lott, the deal fell through “at the 11th hour”. Santana wound up signing with the Braves on a one-year, $14.1 million deal on March 12.

Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was one player willing to sacrifice to make the team better:

“If they ask me to do that for anybody — it doesn’t have to be [Santana] — I do it,” Encarnacion said Friday afternoon after acknowledging that he was part of the group. “I want to win. I want to make this team better.”

Outfielder Jose Bautista deferred to GM Alex Anthopoulos.

The Jays have seen their payroll explode over the last two seasons, increasing from $84 million in 2012 to $119 million in 2013, then to over $137 million to start the 2014 season. Jays CEO Paul Beeston said that the club’s owner, Rogers Communications, would have to have been convinced that further increasing the payroll would lead to an increase in revenue.

Santana had a late start to the spring due to his extended free agency, so he was skipped over for his first turn in the Braves’ rotation and is expected to make his season debut on April 9 at home against the Mets.

Chris Archer threw behind Jose Bautista

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Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.

Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.

The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.

Bryce Harper sets April record for runs scored

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With four runs scored during Sunday’s 23-5 drubbing of the Mets, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper set a new April record for runs scored at 32, MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin reports. The record was previously held by Larry Walker, who scored 29 runs for the Rockies in April 1997.

Harper finished 2-for-4 with a pair of walks and a solo home run (off of Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki) on the afternoon. He’s now hitting .391/.509/.772 with nine home runs and 26 RBI on the year.