Under ordinary circumstances, it might seem crazy to sign a player who has appeared in only 29 games in the past 32 months to a contract extension (hat tip to @ArdenZwelling). But Dustin McGowan is anything but ordinary.
It appears as though the Blue Jays are taking a leap of faith by inking Dustin McGowan to a two-year contract extension (plus an option for a third). The timing of the announcement could not be any more confusing, as McGowan left his minor league start on Sunday with a foot injury.
There was a veritable gamut of emotions within 24 hours; at first it seemed like Dustin McGowan might not be on track to make the Opening Day roster. And then the next day, he signs a contract extension. Talk about highs and lows.
From the outside looking in, this might look like a very curious contract extension. However, as Blue Jays fans know very well, there is a much larger back story to the whole Dustin McGowan situation.
I don’t believe this contract is really about the money, and it really isn’t about the duration of the contract either. It’s about the Blue Jays showing their commitment to Dustin McGowan and vice versa.
Much like Travis Snider, Dustin McGowan’s journey back to the Major Leagues has been a long and maligned one. He has encountered setback after setback, and yet McGowan is still battling and his long-awaited comeback is nearly complete.
There’s no question it’s a risky move to offer up two more years and potentially a third to a pitcher who only has one full season under his belt. Occasionally in this business, it’s not about making shrews moves, and it’s about doing the right thing.
For someone with the moniker of the “Silent Assassin”, this was one move by Alex Anthopoulos that wasn’t cold and calculated. It might be viewed as a smart signing by the Blue Jays, but this was more about being loyal to Dustin McGowan than it was the bottom line.
As perplexing as this contract extension may be, at least it locks up another member of the starting rotation long term. That means the Blue Jays now have three starters locked up through 2015 (pending they exercise Morrow and McGowan’s options).
I don’t understand why some folks are being critical of the Dustin McGowan contract extension. This is a no-risk move for the Blue Jays, and at this point they really don’t have anything to lose. Frankly, neither does Dustin.
Yes, that money could very easily be spent elsewhere, and McGowan’s roster spot could be filled in a heartbeat. With the wealth of starting pitching in the minor league system, there’s a laundry list of candidates who could step in to that fifth starter’s job.
But you know what? If the Blue Jays were going to spend all this time and effort getting Dustin McGowan back to the altar, they may as well go through the ceremony. They’ve come this far with McGowan, so why not just take the next step?
For someone who was nearly written off completely, it’s incredible just how far Dustin McGowan has progressed these past few years. There must have been instances when he thought he’d never pitch in the Major Leagues ever again, and yet he’s persevered and fought his way back.
From Dustin McGowan’s perspective, I think he needed reassurance that the club was going to continue to support him. Why go through all
this rehabbing if the team is just going to cut him loose at the end of
Dustin now has that security and can focus on his rehab without wondering what might happen six months down the road. This contract extension is now the light at the end of the tunnel for Dustin McGowan.
Image courtesy of Toronto Star