Carlos Pena And Jose Bautista

What does last year's American League home run leader have in common with this year's AL home run leader besides a habit of hitting the ball over the fence? They both strike out a lot and walk a lot. They were both born in Santo Domingo. They're both bilingual. And both Carlos Pena and Jose Bautista bounced from organization to organization to organization before finding major league success.

The two sluggers have a lot in common, and while some of their similarities don't have any impact on MLB teams, others do. In fact, we can guess what Bautista might make through arbitration next year by comparing him to Pena. 

Like Pena, Bautista is a super two player, meaning he goes to arbitration four times instead of three. After Pena broke out with 46 homers in 2007, he was set to reach arbitration for the third time*. He made $2.8MM in his second arbitration year and was clearly due for a substantial raise after setting a career-high in homers and winning a Silver Slugger in 2007. Ultimately, Pena signed a three-year deal that guaranteed him $6MM for the 2008 season.

Bautista, who has an MLB-leading 26 homers, is headed for his fourth and final arbitration season in 2011. He'll earn $2.4MM this year and, if he keeps hitting like this, will earn substantially more next season. For comparison, Pena's breakout led to a $3.2MM raise. Scott Boras represents Pena, who finished with 20 more homers than Bautista currently has. Even if Bautista continues hitting at an All-Star level, it's hard to imagine him making much more than $6MM next year.

The comparison is imperfect for many reasons, despite the players' similarities. Home run hitters are becoming scarce, Pena's deal was for his third arbitration season and was part of a three-year pact, and Pena had enjoyed more MLB success before his breakout. But it appears that the MLB executives who estimated to Buster Olney that Bautista could earn $10-12MM next year are off the mark. One executive suggested to MLBTR today that Bautista would have a hard time getting much more than $7-8MM in 2011.

So why does this matter? Ask the Blue Jays, who are no doubt wondering how Bautista would fit into their 2011 budget. Or ask the Braves, Giants, Tigers and White Sox, who have all inquired on him. The difference between $6MM and $10-12MM is a big one.

*Pena spent much of 2005-06 in the minors, which slowed his arbitration timeline and path to free agency.

39 Responses to Carlos Pena And Jose Bautista Leave a Reply

  1. Sniderlover 5 years ago

    So who was the idiot to say Bautista would hit triple digits through arbitration?

    Anyways, nice to see the comparison. I don`t think Bautista will get 46 HR but he may end up with 35-40 and should earn around 5-6 mil. I would be shocked if he got triple digits.

    • I’d be shocked if he filed and asked for triple digits. Likely wouldn’t win, he’s not Ryan Howard..

    • Encarnacion's Parrot 5 years ago

      That would be Buster Olney. 9 times out of 10 if it’s not the Red Socks or Yankees, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Almost as bad as Jon Heyman, but not quite there.. yet.

    • iains 5 years ago

      I suspect the 10 million plus number might have been a disinformation attempt to knock out some of the competition and lower the asking price

  2. kldhca 5 years ago

    AA is not going to allow “disinformation” to sway any deals he makes, IMO he is to smart for that

    • iains 5 years ago

      It’s not really about disinformation affecting AA. It’s about affecting other buyers… not all may be smart enough to see it for what it is. Reduce the number of buyers, reduce the bidding. Of course that only works if AA really wants to sell.

      • Encarnacion's Parrot 5 years ago

        I understand that some MLB players, and GM’s read MLBTR to see what’s going on, but doesn’t it seem a little silly for, at least the GM’s to believe what someone thinks who the closest he is to the MLB is behind a desk for ESPN?Tim Dierkes and all the other guys who post the articles and rumors only go by what these numpties post on twitter, so it’s hardly their fault.. and speaking of, great article Ben and keep it up!

  3. guy is worth 10 million if he is hitting 30 plus home runs a issue for any gm..just wish they can take some money back if he does not preform

    • aap212 5 years ago

      Branyan hit 30 plus homers last year. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. A career year at 29 doesn’t equate to an every year thing, especially when his previous high slugging percentage was more than 120 points lower than this year.

  4. ramiro magana 5 years ago

    Didn’t read.. But I know they both hit like 200 and just swing as hard as they can..

    • Encarnacion's Parrot 5 years ago

      The difference is they both usually put up decent OBP numbers. Pena’s is rather average this season at .334, but Bautista’s is a very respectable .358. The main objective at an at bat is to not create an out, regardless if that’s a hit, walk or HBP.

  5. horseiv 5 years ago

    I think what everyone is forgetting is that he is a hell of a lot better player then pena as he can play lf,rf,3rd base, and 1st.

  6. Bob George 5 years ago

    Bautista is hitting .241 and is a .239 career hitter in almost 2500 big league ab’s. Other than suddenly hitting a bunch of HR’s, and MLB requiring an all-star from Toronto, he’s not an all-star.

    • mt99808 5 years ago

      I think Buck and Wells covered off the Jays requirement. Excellent point you make.

    • TheodoreRoosevelt 5 years ago

      Since when has batting average been the statistic of choice?

      Yes, he’s hitting .241. So? His production is obvious.

      • iains 5 years ago

        a .907 OPS trumps a .241 batting average every time.

    • ju1ced 5 years ago

      The stupidity from some of the commenters always amazes me. Please don’t ever post again.

  7. Very reasonable post. The only other point I’d add is that Bautista can play four positions (five if you believe those who say he can play CF, a proposition about which I am doubtful), and while he’s an average outfielder defensively, he has an arm that baserunners shouldn’t challenge in RF.Olney’s recent commentary on the Jays has been bizarre — he made a preposterous assertion that Cito Gaston should have left Kevin Gregg in the game on Saturday after walking the bases loaded simply because there were scouts in attendance (an assertion that was proved to be ridiculous on Monday). Now he’s proclaiming that the Jays are over-valuing Bautista because he stands to make too much money in arbitration. Leave aside for the moment the fact that the Jays can afford to pay Bautista next year, have a very good record of avoiding arbitration, and could use Bautista at 3B for the foreseeable future. I’m still wondering why Bautista’s performance, which has pushed his arb value up, should not impact the quality of prospect the Jays get back for him.

  8. first of all – Bautista isn’t going to be dealt unless someone makes alex’s head spin. The mentor role to Esco is important and AA wouldn’t have given him that task if he was expecting to deal him three weeks later.

    Second, no, IMO, there’s no realistic chance JB will make eight figures next year….i don’t even think it will get to the “asking” stage because both player and team realize they need each other. count on a three year deal this winter for ~$25 million.

    Third, as to how he fits into the Jays 2011 budget – the Jays have a mere $34.5 million (for four players) obligated in long term contracts for 2011, and a high likelihood that 10-12 of the other slots will be near-minimum players. reasonable arbitration estimate for likely returning players now in the system – enough to fill out the roster – runs the payroll into the low-to-mid 50’s.
    Affording Bautista – or whoever else in his price range, is less than a non-issue.

    • Sniderlover 5 years ago

      Most of the payroll is used because of Wells unfortunately. If it wasn`t for him, our payroll would be very little. But yes, I see your point. Jays can easily afford Bautista.

  9. snowles 5 years ago

    Who’d have thought at the beginning of the year that there would be this much talk about Jose Bautista, picked off of Pittsburgh’s AAA scrap heap for depth a few years ago?

    Now who would have thought we’d be talking about Jose Bautista, home run leader and middle-of-the order RF masher. Unbelievable.

    But I agree, Jose won’t be going anywhere. There really is no option in AAA to replace him either in RF or 3B, and EE won’t be around after this year (we pray) and he won’t be making a crazy amount of salary. They might as well try and buy out his arb years and a 1 year of free agency team option before he has a chance to put up multiple excellent years and really rake it in through arbitration.

    • mt99808 5 years ago

      Jays have plenty of depth players that can replace him the rest of this year (Emaus, Lubanski, Hoffpauir, etc. They can address 3b through FA or trade in the off season.

      • snowles 5 years ago

        Both the list of FA 3B and those available from trade are extremely thin, headlined by such notable greats as Jerry Hairston Jr., Juan Uribe and Pedro Feliz. The depth players on the Jays are just that, depth. I don’t think any of the names you listed are more than back-ups, though time may prove me wrong, since everyone at LV is mashing the crap out of the ball. Emaus is probably the most interesting because of his age but he’s a natural 2B and his defence is rated as average by scouts at third.

        Unless they make a trade for a stud 3B upper-minor level prospect and throw him into the fire (which seem to be few and far between), or move hill over to 3B, I don’t see a problem with keeping Batista, at least for another year. He mashed last September, he mashed in the spring, and he’s mashed the first four months of the season, and this year he’s walking at a very respectable clip. At what point does he have to keep producing before the fluke tag goes away?

    • moonraker45 5 years ago

      emaus is a good option for high obp no power type of 3b.. long shot (who i’m routing for) is bowman. I know he’s an overaged AA’er, but he’s had a rough go the last few years, finally healthy he’s tearing apart AA, and showing impressive power…hey anything can happen right. he’s still young enough to put things together.

      • snowles 5 years ago

        There are definitely a couple of intriguing players in the minors, but they’re still a ways from reaching the majors, let alone contributing in a meaningful way. I see the Jays situation requiring both a short-term solution and a long-term fix that go far, far, far beyond anything Edwin Encarnacion brings to the team, which is especially magnified if Bautista is traded. I would much rather have a problem having too many good players at a position than not enough; the situation at catcher for the Jays right now seems like a pretty good problem to have for AA between Buck and JPA.

        And anyways, even if next year JB hits 250/350 with 15HR and the Jays can get a better option through trade, it’s still a pretty powerful and versatile player to have on your bench, especially compared with the dreck on there now.

      • Sniderlover 5 years ago

        He got promoted to AAA a while ago and is hitting .300+ over there as well. His OBP is still .400+ so Eamus is definitely intriguing. His walks are higher than his strikeouts and he`s got some pop.

        If it were up to me, I would just remove EE from the roster and call-up Eamus to see how well he does or wait until September until rosters are expanded. Eamus deserves a call-up soon.

    • mt99808 5 years ago

      Or they could just trade him in a package to the White Sox for Beckham :)

      That solves everything.

  10. aap212 5 years ago

    You know what else they have in common? I wouldn’t touch either long-term. Early decline city for Pena, and flash in the pan for Bautista.

    • baconslayer09 5 years ago

      It’s always a risk to give guys like Pena and especially Bautista long-term deals.

    • baconslayer09 5 years ago

      It’s always a risk to give guys like Pena and especially Bautista long-term deals.

  11. bjsguess 5 years ago

    He may not hit $10m but I bet he gets closer to $10m than he does $6m. My guess is that he lands a deal in the $8-9m range.

  12. bjsguess 5 years ago

    He may not hit $10m but I bet he gets closer to $10m than he does $6m. My guess is that he lands a deal in the $8-9m range.

  13. baconslayer09 5 years ago

    Jose Bautista != Carlos Pena.

    Carlos Pena actually had success with power before his stint in Tampa. Jose Bautista raised his HR/FB rates by nearly 7% and his ISO by 140 points this year.

  14. baconslayer09 5 years ago

    Jose Bautista != Carlos Pena.

    Carlos Pena actually had success with power before his stint in Tampa. Jose Bautista raised his HR/FB rates by nearly 7% and his ISO by 140 points this year.

  15. Encarnacion's Parrot 5 years ago

    Well, at least his sources are more accurate than Bob Elliot’s I guess..

  16. Encarnacion's Parrot 5 years ago

    Oh don’t get me wrong dude, I love reading Elliot’s articles on, but in the last year or so it’s been kinda funny when he joins in rumors.

  17. I hate when fine reporters find the need to jump in on the rumor train. Let’s leave that to the horrible hockey journalists.

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