Blue Jays avoid arbitration with reliever Janssen
Sign veteran to 2-year, $5.9-million US contract
The Toronto Blue Jays' streak of avoiding arbitration is up to 15 years and reliever Casey Janssen is happy about it.
The veteran right-hander signed a $5.9-million US, two-year contract Monday, just a day before the two sides were scheduled to attend a hearing in St. Petersburg, Fla.
"The commitment that [general manager Alex Anthopoulos] showed with the [team's] future and then obviously his commitment to me meant a lot," Janssen said Tuesday on a conference call.
"Hanging out in Toronto for a few more years is going to be great."
The deal includes a $4-million club option for the 2014 season.
Janssen was one of the team's most reliable options out of a mediocre bullpen last year. He was 6-0 with two saves and an impressive 2.26 earned-run average over 55 appearances.
The Blue Jays haven't taken anyone to a hearing since right-hander Bill Risley in 1997.
"There's always a little bit of excitement and a little bit of comfort in knowing that there is a guarantee," Janssen said of his multi-year deal. "But like I said, the future for the Blue Jays is bright and that really appealed to me."
Anthopoulos has overhauled the bullpen for the 2012 campaign.
Gone are Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco, who split the closer's role with mixed results. Both have signed with the New York Mets.
Francisco Cordero will likely fill the setup role for closer Sergio Santos, who was acquired last December in a trade with the Chicago White Sox. Veterans Darren Oliver and Jason Frasor were also added this off-season.
"Seeing all the moves was a nice thing," Janssen said. "You can never have enough quality arms."
The 30-year-old Orange, Calif., native earned $1.095 million in 2011. Janssen was seeking $2.2 million in arbitration while Toronto had offered $1.8 million.
He said the possibility of going to arbitration didn't weigh on him — he's just pleased the deal is done.
"We were ready to go," Janssen said. "Again, it wasn't a negative thing to be going but we had to be prepared. I think both sides were ready just based on the situation."
Over five seasons with Toronto, Janssen is 21-19 with nine saves and a 3.81 ERA in 221 appearances.
He said Anthopoulos first mentioned the possibility of a multi-year deal on the team's cross-country caravan last month. The discussion got him even more excited about the team and its future.
"I use the analogy that once you've built a car, you want to be able to drive it," Janssen said. "I felt like we were getting to that point where the car is getting built and you want to go take it for a spin.
"You see the young arms, you hear about them and our lineup, and then what [Anthopoulos] did with the additions to the bullpen — I definitely like our chances."
Toronto was 81-81 last year, good for a fourth-place finish in the American League East. It will be a challenge to hang with teams like New York, Boston and Tampa, but Janssen is confident it will happen.
"I think we can contend and I think we can contend for years to come," he said. "I want to win, I want to win so bad."