Blue Jays plan to stick to contract philosophy

Anthopoulos says the club will not offer deals that last over five years

Blue Jays plan to stick to contract philosophy

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays could be making a lot of adjustments this offseason, but one thing that won't change is the club's policy of not offering contracts that span more than five years.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos confirmed on Sunday afternoon the Blue Jays won't be in the market for any free agents that require at least six seasons on a deal. During the tenure of Anthopoulos and president Paul Beeston, the Blue Jays have never gone beyond five guaranteed years with any player. That stance isn't going to change any time soon.

That will likely keep the Blue Jays out of the running for top free agents like Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and possibly James Shields. But Anthopoulos believes it's the smart approach.

"I can adamantly say you won't see any eight-year, nine-year, ten-year deals -- barring the [average annual value] all of a sudden is much lower and it's the same total value that we would pay over five," Anthopoulos said. "Our five-year policy is still firmly in place. That's not going to change.

"But I still believe, even with that, you could still be very competitive. ... I still think there's a lot of good free agents that -- if you need to go to five years, I don't even know with some of them you're going to need to go to that number -- we'll be able to sign them."

The reason behind the policy is the fact the success rate for contracts that last more than five years is very low. There have been times when it's worked out, but there's also a large risk that injuries will play a role and the contract would become problematic during the back-end years of the deal.

The five-year policy was at least one reason the Blue Jays haven't entered the mix for a significant free-agent signing during Anthopoulos' time as GM. There have been minor signings and a two-year deal with Melky Cabrera prior to the 2013 season. But, for the most part, Anthopoulos has done the vast majority of his work through trades.

"Philosophically, we've said this before, we're not believers in those eight-, nine-, ten-year deals -- not because the talent isn't there, the players aren't there," Anthopoulos said. "Too much can happen. No matter how good you are, when it's that long, too much can happen over that period of time.

"I understand that will take us out of [the running for] some players, but it's something philosophically we're opposed to. With that five-year max in play, we still feel we'll be able to get players or certain guys."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.