Comfortable Berríos skips free agency to stay with the Blue Jays | Sports News
By IAN HARISON, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) – Two months with the Toronto Blue Jays were enough for José Berríos to change his mind about waiting another year to become a free agent.
Berríos finalized a seven-year, $ 131 million contract on Thursday to stay with the Blue Jays, giving up the opportunity to become a free agent in the next offseason.
Double All Star, the 27-year-old right-hander said his decision was made easier by getting a brief experience of life in Toronto after the Blue Jays acquired him from Minnesota on July 30.
“It was enough to make this decision because of the way they treated me, the warm welcome they gave me,” said Berríos. “The way I spent my last two months of the season here made it easier and more comfortable for me to make this decision.”
He gets a signing bonus of $ 5 million, half of which is payable on Jan.31 and the remainder on April 30. Berríos receives salaries of $ 10 million next season, $ 15 million in 2023, $ 17 million in 2024, $ 18 million each in 2025 and 26, and $ 24 million in 2027 and 28.
Berríos may retire after the 2026 season to become a free agent, dropping $ 48 million in the past two seasons.
He has up to $ 5 million in escalators for 2027 and 28 that he can earn in 2025 and 26: $ 1 million each for 300 and 350 innings combined and $ 500,000 each for 375 and 400. He would also win 2 million dollars for a Cy Young Prize for each of those years, $ 1.5 million for second to fifth in the vote and $ 750,000 for sixth to 10th.
Berríos went 5-4 with a 3.58 ERA in 12 starts with Toronto, finishing 12-9 with a 3.52 ERA. The Blue Jays have won 91 games, earning a victory less than a tie for a wild card spot in the AL East competition.
An invigorated Berríos has made it clear he doesn’t want to fail again in 2022.
“I can promise that we are going to do a lot of good things for the city,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot of fun.”
Berríos retired a career-high 204 batting in 192 innings in 2021. He is 60-47 with a 4.04 ERA in six seasons in the big leagues.
Berríos said his wife visited him in Toronto after his exchange last summer, but said her three children did not visit their new home until the deal was struck.
“They love the city,” he said. “They ask me every day if we are going to play tonight.”
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Berríos had “one of the best reputations in baseball,” adding that the contract represented “a very big moment for this organization.
“Beyond that talent, that competitiveness and that execution that you see on the pitch, he’s one of the best human beings in the game,” Atkins said of Berríos. “It’s extremely powerful for this organization, what it means for the players who will be his teammates today and in the future.”
Atkins said the Blue Jays have started to set the stage for talks about a new contract before the end of the regular season.
“At the end of the season, it was one of the first phone calls we made,” said Atkins.
Berríos, a native of Puerto Rico, was ranked 32nd overall by the Twins in the 2012 amateur draft. He was never on the injured list in his six-year career, making 32 starts over the course of his career. each of the last three full seasons.
Atkins praised Berríos for being “as consistent as any professional athlete in the world”.
“The reliability, the reliability of someone like José is exceptionally powerful,” Atkins said. “We obviously appreciate that a lot. “
This is the third over $ 100 million contract in Blue Jays history and the second in as many winters – Toronto signed outfielder George Springer to a six-year, $ 150 million contract during from the last offseason.
Still, Atkins insisted that Berríos’ signing wouldn’t stop Toronto from pursuing other free agents, including southpaw Robbie Ray, who won the AL Cy Young award with the Blue Jays this season, and the infielder Marcus Semien.
“We are committed to continuing to build on this core,” Atkins said.
Outfielder Vernon Wells and the Blue Jays signed a seven-year, $ 126 million contract in 2006.
Pairing veterans like Springer and Berríos alongside exciting young hitters Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, Atkins said the emerging Blue Jays have seen a change in the way they are viewed among free agents.
“Now we feel like the key players are courting us as much as we are courting the players,” Atkins said.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report.
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