Blue Jays: Ryan worth five-year, $47 million deal

TORONTO -- After finalizing the largest contract for a
relief pitcher in baseball history, a $47 million, five-year
contract with the Toronto Blue Jays, B.J. Ryan was asked if he was
worth it.

"I don't know," Ryan said Monday. "I guess I'm going to go
out on that field and see. When you sign a deal like this, you want
to hold up your end of it."

A left-hander who turns 30 on Dec. 28, Ryan has 42 career saves,
including 36 last season for the Baltimore Orioles.

"He stands among the few pitchers in baseball worthy of a
five-year contract," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi
said. "I know our starting pitchers will be very happy to hear
this news."

Ryan's deal tops the $39.99 million, four-year contract Mariano
Rivera got from the New York Yankees from 2001-04. Rivera has the
highest average salary for a reliever under a $21 million, two-year
contract with the Yankees that has one season remaining.

"It's a byproduct of our industry," Ricciardi said of the
record-setting deal. "We're damned if we do and damned if we
don't. But this is a guy we targeted and went out and got."

Ricciardi said signing Ryan was just the start of Toronto's
offseason plans. The Blue Jays were also thought to be pursuing
free-agent starter A.J. Burnett.

"By no means do I think we're going to win the World Series,
but I think we're a lot closer to having a chance to play in
September and into October next year," Ricciardi said.

Toronto was 16-31 in one-run games last season. The Blue Jays
finished 80-82, third in the AL East behind the New York Yankees
and Boston Red Sox (both 95-67).

"We've lost a lot of one-run games and this gives us an
opportunity to say maybe we can win those games now," Ricciardi

Ryan converted 36 of 41 save chances for Baltimore last season,
going 1-4 with a 2.43 ERA. He struck out 100 and walked 26 in 70
innings and earned $2,825,000, including bonuses.

"I know what I'm doing when I get out there," Ryan said.
"It's just a matter of being consistent. You want that ninth
inning to be yours."

Ryan said he would like to pitch for the United States in next
March's World Baseball Classic. He said the decision would be up to
the Blue Jays.

"I think he might be sick those weeks," Ricciardi interjected.