MLBPA head criticizes Jays’ salary deferral plan

Santana is 7-6 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts with the Braves. (John Bazemore/AP)

MINNEAPOLIS – Players union head Tony Clark criticized the Toronto Blue Jays’ handling of the salary deferral plan agreed to by five players in an attempt to sign then free agent Ervin Santana during spring training, and said their contributions shouldn’t have been needed in the first place.

The complicated machinations in which Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista, Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey agreed to cover the $14 million Santana would have signed for by deferring portions of their salary ultimately gained approval from the players’ association.

But Santana ended up signing with the Atlanta Braves after the Blue Jays thought they had a deal with the right-hander, making it all moot.

“It is not the players’ responsibility to sign a player or bring a player on board, I’ll start there,” Clark said Tuesday when asked about the matter during a meeting with members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “The position we’ve always taken related to players deferring dollars is making sure that the value of that adjustment is of a positive value to the player or players in that instance.

“As it was brought to our attention, there were a number of conversations that were had, unfortunately with some of those players in the middle, how that entire process was handled we don’t believe was in a fashion that was as beneficial to everyone involved as it could have been. The place we ended up suggested the players were able to make, should they decide, those deferrals in an effort to bring in those players.”

Clark did not elaborate on what concerned him about the process, which started when Santana approached Encarnacion and told him that we has willing to sign with the Blue Jays for $14 million over one year.

Encarnacion took that information to Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, Santana ended up speaking with some of the other players, and they decided they were willing to push back some salary in exchange for some future monetary benefit in order to make it happen because the team’s payroll was at its limit.

The Blue Jays would not have been able to sign Santana without the deferrals. He is 7-6 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts with the Braves.

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