...for an entire year, a move which the Globe & The Mail’s Jeff Blair claims “indicates that the organization still harbours long-term doubts whether he’s the guy to take the team over the postseason hump.”

According to sources close to Gibbons (above) and Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, they have agreed to extend Gibbons’s contract through the 2008 season. The deal, which will pay Gibbons $650,000 (U.S.) in 2008, was hammered out last Friday. An announcement was made on Monday.

“There’s no way we’ll have a situation where we’re in July or August or September and we don’t know John Gibbons’s status ” that’s just not going to happen,” Ricciardi said this month. “I’d like to keep him. We really haven’t had a chance to spend a lot of time together this off-season, but we’ll get that chance in spring training. We’ll be around each other a lot, and at some point we’ll talk about it. It will work itself out.”

It certainly did. The men had a brief meeting the day before the pitchers and catchers began workouts and quickly came to an agreement.

Pistol at Batter’s Box has a rather pragmatic view of the deal, writing “If Gibbons does a great job with the Jays this year they’ll have him under contract for a bargain price (no manager makes under $500,000) and if they want to replace him they only have to pay off one year at an amount similar to a journeyman.”

The Baltimore Sun’s Peter Schmuck points out that reliever Danys Baez is the first Cuban defector to sign with the O’s.

Owner Peter Angelos openly discouraged any attempt by his front office to pursue the players who jumped off the Cuban national team during international competition or rode a raft across the dangerous Florida straits. He said at the time he didn’t want to encourage anyone to take such a risk, and he clearly wanted to sustain the rapport his team had built with the Cuban government during the home-and-home goodwill series in 1999.

When that controversial stance became public, there was an outcry from both the Cuban expatriate community and the sports agents who were scrambling to represent the increasing flow of solid baseball talent streaming into the major leagues from the tiny island nation. The Orioles quickly distanced themselves from the policy and it was largely forgotten, but Baez is the first Cuban defector to put on an Orioles uniform.

“I didn’t even know about that,” said Baez, who signed with the Cleveland Indians after defecting at the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1999. “At that time, my agent handled everything. It was about the baseball first. The politics were second.”

It’s kind of amazing to imagine Danys Baez having the luxury of turning down any offer in 2007 for political reasons.

Ronnie Belliard signed a minor league deal with the Nationals yesterday, and congrats to Bob Timmerman for having the presence of mind to jot down what most sane people must’ve thought when they heard the news ; “I wonder if Belliard has incriminating evidence against Jim Bowden?”

Rob Bradford reports that Josh Beckett attended the Daytona 500. So much for NASCAR’s efforts to reach a more upscale audience.

Adam Rubin wrote earlier today that Da Edge planned on addressing the media Monday afternoon. Everybody, all at once, “helloooooo, media!”