TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays have built a creative rolling option into the contract of John Gibbons that will prevent him from ever facing a lame-duck year as manager.
Back when he was hired in November, Gibbons revealed that he was given a two-year deal plus an option, but he didn’t explain how the option functions.
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.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the big-leagues, although that’s unconfirmed, the structure essentially means Gibbons will be operating on a perpetual two-year contract, eliminating any in-season intrigue on how his contractual status affects his standing.
The security for Gibbons comes after former manager John Farrell’s contractual status became an issue late last season, when he revealed he had only one year left on his deal as the club stumbled to a 73-89 finish and the Boston Red Sox made clandestine overtures toward him.
The Blue Jays had no interest in extending Farrell at the time, and had he remained in place, his future would have been an issue throughout 2013, especially given the circumstances.
GM Alex Anthopoulos had hoped to prevent his manager’s contract status from becoming an issue by refusing to reveal the length of Farrell’s deal, but word of a three-year agreement leaked out the night he was hired and was eventually confirmed by Farrell.
The Blue Jays traded Farrell to Boston in October for infielder Mike Aviles, who was later flipped to the Cleveland Indians with catcher Yan Gomes for reliever Esmil Rogers.
The strong contractual backing for Gibbons comes as he begins a second stint as Blue Jays manager, being handed a team drastically remade in a remarkable winter buildup.
He will be expected to lead the club back into the post-season for the first time since 1993 after Anthopoulos bolstered the roster with starters R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Mark Buehrle, shortstop Jose Reyes, outfielder Melky Cabrera, second baseman Maicer Izturis, and utilityman Emilio Bonifacio.
Notes: Rogers and Cabrera have decided to stay in camp with the Blue Jays rather than play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. That leaves five of the club’s 25-man roster players headed to the tournament: Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion (Dominican Republic); Brett Lawrie (Canada); plus Dickey and J.P. Arencibia (United States).