Shapiro: Blue Jays generally opposed to player opt-outs


Blue Jays manager John Gibbons chats with president Mark Shapiro at spring training. (Shi Davidi)

Don’t expect the Toronto Blue Jays to make a habit of including player opt-outs in future contracts. Team president Mark Shapiro said on Sportsnet 590 The FAN Friday he’s generally not a fan of the clauses that were very much in vogue last off-season.

“I think that there are instances where they are valuable,” Shapiro told co-hosts Jeff Blair and Stephen Brunt. “In some ways they’re just another form of a player option which I think are ridiculous. You’ll never see us do a player option.”

Two of the Blue Jays’ top players, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, are on track to hit free agency after the 2016 season, but Shapiro was speaking in general terms and not in specific reference to the two sluggers. David Price, Jason Heyward and Johnny Cueto were among the players to obtain the opt-outs over the winter, prompting commissioner Rob Manfred to question the trend.

“The logic of opt-out clauses for the club escapes me,” Manfred told FOX Sports in December.

Shapiro didn’t completely rule out the possibility of including an opt-out clause in player contracts — the Blue Jays prioritize flexibility, after all — but he made his doubts clear.

“I do think that there are unique circumstances which probably don’t benefit me to discuss in depth where I say ‘yeah that makes a lot of sense in this circumstance,'” he said. “Maybe where a player is contractually, there’s not quite the ability to get the length of contract he wants out there, so he gets a contract that the club feels is a good length and yet also gets a counter-ability to opt out in a shorter period of time and go back out if he thinks that benefits him.”

Opt-out clauses provide players with the enviable combination of security and flexibility, so it’s no surprise the likes of Price and Heyward ask for them. But in most cases Shapiro believes there are better ways for teams to compensate players.

“Overall I’d say in eight out of 10 cases, I’d be against doing it,” he said. “I definitely think that there was an over-abundance of them this past year.”

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