Gregor Chisholm: Drury stays, Maile goes in Blue Jays contract deadline dance

Gregor Chisholm: Drury stays, Maile goes in Blue Jays contract deadline dance
The Blue Jays cut ties with catcher Luke Maile, right-hander Derek Law and right-hander Jason Adam prior to Monday night’s deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

Infielder Brandon Drury, closer Ken Giles, starter Matt Shoemaker and right-hander Anthony Bass were all tendered contracts. Those four players remain eligible for arbitration later this off-season, while the other three became free agents.

Maile was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $800,000 (all dollars U.S.) through arbitration. He was deemed expendable with the Jays intent to go with the young catching duo of Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire in 2020. The 28-year-old hit .193 with a .550 OPS across parts of three seasons in Toronto.

Law was expected to earn around $1.3 million in his first year of arbitration eligibility. He was one of Toronto’s go-to relievers this past season, but that speaks more to the Jays’ lack of depth than it does his upside. Law tossed a career-high 602/3 innings for Toronto with a rather unimpressive 4.90 ERA.

Adam wasn’t called up to the big leagues until August, but once there he fared better than expected. He posted a 2.91 ERA while striking out 19 over 212/3 innings. The 28-year-old was a solid performer over the final two months, but the Jays are looking for more certainty and his departure clears another spot on Toronto’s 40-man roster.

There were 40 players across Major League Baseball who were non-tendered. That’s up from last year’s total of 27 and more than double that of two years ago, when the number was 19. Some of the notable names cut loose include former Jays Kevin Pillar and Aaron Sanchez, former A’s phenom reliever Blake Treinen, Cubs shortstop Addison Russell and right-hander Kevin Gausman.

The biggest surprise of the day from a Blue Jays’ perspective might have been Toronto’s decision to tender a contract to Drury. The 27-year-old is projected to earn $2.5 million and doesn’t have a clear role on next year’s team with a starting infield of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio and someone not named Drury at first.

Drury originally was expected to be a super-utility player for this team, but his bat failed to produce and, outside of occasional work at third, his defence hasn’t been all that impressive either. In 128 games for Toronto, Drury has hit .214 with a .261 on-base percentage and a weak .632 OPS. Unless the Jays trade him, he figures to once again play a bit role as a backup infielder/outfielder.

The least surprising news of the day was Giles and Shoemaker both receiving tenders. Giles is projected to earn $8.4 million through arbitration, and that amount was a no-brainer following a year in which he converted all but one of his 24 save opportunities while posting a 1.87 ERA. Shoemaker is projected to make $3.8 million and his presence will be needed on a very inexperienced starting staff.

The biggest loss of all for the Jays on Monday was the announced departure of scouting director Steve Sanders, who left to join general manager Ben Cherington as part of Pittsburgh’s revamped front office. Sanders worked with Cherington in Boston and the two were later reunited in Toronto under different roles.

Sanders has received a lot of praise for the work he has done through the draft over the last three years. Some of his top picks include right-hander Nate Pearson, infielder Jordan Groshans and right-hander Alek Manoah. He deserves a large chunk of credit for the lower levels of Toronto’s system doing so well.
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