Ryan reportedly close to joining Jays

Report: Ryan to Blue Jays

The Blue Jays are reportedly close to signing free agent B.J. Ryan to a contract that would be the richest ever for a relief pitcher.

Ryan has agreed in principle to a five-year, $47 million contract with Toronto, according to reports Saturday in the New York Daily News and The Associated Press.

The Blue Jays have scheduled a press conference at the Rogers Centre for 1 p.m. ET Monday.

Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Godrey did not refute the reported numbers, but told The Toronto Star, "There's no deal yet, that's all I can say. I'm not saying it won't happen at some point, but as of right now it hasn't happened."

A Blue Jays spokesman told MLB.com on Friday night, "Negotiations are continuing and nothing is finalized."

The left-handed Ryan, 29, moved into the closer's role for the Baltimore Orioles last season and saved 36 games in 41 opportunities, while holding opposing batters to a .208 average and striking out 100 batters in 70 1/3 innings. He is considered among the top relievers on the open market this offseason.

Ryan had discussions with several clubs recently -- he visited Cleveland on Tuesday, and reportedly received an offer from the Orioles earlier this week. His signing would be the biggest free agent acquisition for the Blue Jays since they signed Roger Clemens as a free agent in 1997.

"Ryan's up-and-coming, pretty new to the job himself, but already's he's one of the top closers in the game," said Jays manager John Gibbons. "Anytime you've got a shot at a guy like that, you've got to make that move."

Ryan's deal would be the most lucrative ever given to a reliever, topping the $39.99 million, four-year contract Mariano Rivera had with the Yankees from 2001-04.

Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi told the Star on Friday night that there was no deal in place.

"No, that's not true," Ricciardi said of the reports. "As far as I know, we haven't signed anybody to anything yet. We've got things out there with a number of guys. But until something gets signed, that's all it is."

Miguel Batista, the Jays' closer in 2005, is set to earn $4.9 million next season. His name has been attached this week to reports of trade talks with the Texas Rangers (involving outfielder Kevin Mench) and the Milwaukee Brewers (first baseman Lyle Overbay).

"I don't want to take anything away from Miggy. It was his first year [at full-time closing] and he did a great job," Gibbons told the Star. "Ryan would be the closer, though. Maybe we could slide Miggy up into a setup type of role; maybe back into the rotation. I also know Miggy has always been in demand by other teams.