NEW YORK -- B.J. Ryan and the Toronto Blue Jays have reached
a preliminary agreement on a $47 million, five-year contract, a
high-ranking baseball official told The Associated Press Friday.
Ryan, a left-hander who turns 30 next month, is getting the
largest deal given to a reliever, topping the $39.99 million,
four-year contract Mariano Rivera had with the New York Yankees
from 2001-04. Rivera just completed the first season of a $21
million, two-year deal with the Yankees.
The baseball official spoke on condition of anonymity because
Toronto had not yet announced the agreement.
"We're still talking to him," Blue Jays general manager J.P.
Ricciardi said. "To me, this whole thing is premature."
Ricciardi said he did not anticipate any announcements during
the weekend. Pat Rooney, the head of the Chicago office of Ryan's
agent group, declined comment. Rooney's partner, John Courtright,
is negotiating the deal.
Ryan's agreement with Toronto was first reported by the New York
Daily News on its Web site.
Ryan had 36 saves in 41 chances last season for the Baltimore
Orioles and went 1-4 with a 2.43 ERA. He had a $2.6 million base
salary, earned $200,000 in performance bonuses based on games
finished and $25,000 for making the AL All-Star team.
After he became a free agent, the Yankees inquired
whether he would want to become Rivera's setup man, but Ryan chose
to remain in the closer's role.
Ryan's contract might have repercussions on Billy Wagner's
negotiations with Philadelphia and the New York Mets. Wagner earned
$33 million over four years in a contract he agreed to with Houston
before the 2002 season.
The Mets have offered just over $30 million for three
years, a deal that contains a 2009 option that could raise the
value to $40 million. The Phillies also are trying to re-sign him.
ot make an announcement until next week.