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.

Brayan Peña announces retirement

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Catcher Brayan Peña announced his retirement on Monday evening via his Twitter account:

Peña, 36, signed a minor league contract with the Tigers in January but the club ended up going with catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for their Triple-A roster.

Peña spent parts of 12 seasons in the majors with the Braves, Royals, Tigers, Reds, and Cardinals from 2005-16. He hit .259/.299/.351 in 1,950 plate appearances.

With his playing days behind him, Peña will transition into coaching. He will manage one of the Tigers’ Gulf Coast League teams, George Sipple of the Free Press reports.