Jose Bautista Rumors

AL East Links: Rays, Bautista, Yankees

The latest from Florida, where pitchers and catchers are reporting to AL East Spring Training camps…

  • Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Erik Hahmann of DRaysBay that "starting pitching, position players who can help you on both sides of the ball, and impact talent up the middle" are difficult or impossible for the Rays to obtain on the open market. That's why the Rays expect the upcoming draft to be some of "the most important days in the history of [the Tampa Bay] franchise." Friedman admits that the Rays face different challenges than, say, the Yankees or Red Sox, but expects his club to compete in 2011.
  • Jose Bautista, who set a deadline for extension talks with the Blue Jays, told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that he is "still very hopeful” about signing long-term with the Jays. Bautista's arbitration hearing is scheduled for today, so we'll know by tomorrow whether he's going to sign an extension or make $10.5MM or $7.6MM this year.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post points out that some aging players are crucial to the Yankees' success in 2011.

Discussion: Jose Bautista

On Friday, Jays outfielder Jose Bautista told Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun that he has set a deadline for extension talks with the club.  The slugger and the club have an arbitration hearing scheduled for tomorrow and it seems like a safe bet that the meeting will go through as planned.  While Bautista would like to sign a multiyear deal with the club, the Blue Jays have yet to put an offer on the table.

Today, Fidlin implores Toronto to lock the 30-year-old up with a multiyear pact.  It's possible, he says, that the club is wary of signing another monster deal after having just gotten themselves out from under two monster contracts in the past year-and-a-half.  It's also possible that Alex Anthopoulos & Co. are wary of Bautista's shocking and sudden emergence as a primetime player.  After hitting .238/.329/.400 from 2004 through 2009, the veteran broke out in 2010, hitting .260/.378/.617 with a staggering 54 home runs – eclipsing his previous watermark of 16.

There remains a considerable gap between the two sides as Bautista seeks $10.5MM while the Blue Jays are offering $7.6MM.  Fidlin argues that the outcome of the hearing is rather inconsequential in the scheme of things.  The club has a limited time to work out a long-term deal with the Super Two star and must get a deal done while they can.   If you were in Anthopoulos' position, what would you do?

Jose Bautista Sets Deadline For Extension Talks

Albert Pujols isn’t the only prospective free agent who doesn’t want to negotiate an extension once the season starts. The defending American League home run champion has set a deadline for contract talks, too. Jose Bautista, whose arbitration hearing is scheduled for Monday, told Ken Fidlin of the Toronto Sun that he won’t be open to negotiating a long-term deal with the Blue Jays during the season. 

“I won’t be open to it after the hearing,” Bautista said. “After the hearing, I believe we will notify the team that [an extension] is not going to be a possibility, unless it’s in that window they have from the end of the season until the free agency period begins.”

Bautista says he wants to stay with the Blue Jays, but doesn’t like the idea of negotiating a contract once the season begins.

“My desire is to play in Toronto long term but, after the hearing, or during the season, I have come to the conclusion that it’s probably not the best thing for me to be negotiating any type of deal,” he said. “I want to focus on the game and trying to win ballgames."

Bautista asked for $10.5MM in arbitration and the Blue Jays countered with $7.6MM, as MLBTR’s Arb Tracker shows. The sides have not started discussing an extension, as far as Bautista knows. Click here for more on Bautista's arbitration case.

AL East Links: Gonzalez, Bautista, Shealy, Orioles

The Yankees already added a reliever today. Here are some notes on what their division rivals are up to…

  • Adrian Gonzalez says he hasn't imposed a deadline for extension negotiations with the Red Sox, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Gonzalez, who worked out at Red Sox camp today, did not seem worried about talks with Boston, according to Cafardo.
  • The Blue Jays' arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista will take place Monday, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
  • The Jays signed Ryan Shealy to a minor league deal, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (on Twitter). The 31-year-old appeared in five games for the Red Sox last year after spending the 2009 season in the minors. Shealy posted a .231/.345/.472 line at Triple-A for the Red Sox and Rays last year.
  • Speaking of Boston, Alex Speier of introduces us to the team's many bullpen candidates. They have lots of left-handers to choose from. Felix Doubront, Rich Hill, Andrew Miller, Hideki Okajima and Dennys Reyes will provide manager Terry Francona with plenty of options.
  • The Orioles are actively discussing deals with Luke Scott and Jeremy Guthrie, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. The O’s don’t appear to be on the verge of an agreement with either arbitration eligible player. Scott’s hearing is next Monday and Guthrie’s hearing will take place Wednesday. Keep track of all the remaining arbitration hearings with our Arb Tracker.

Quick Hits: Millwood, Bautista, Hawkins

Here are some items of note for Feb. 3, 2011, the day on which former AL Rookie of the Year and MVP Fred Lynn turned 59.

  • The Indians are interested in free-agent righty Kevin Millwood, tweets Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer, but not at the current asking price of one year, $4-5MM. Cleveland is among the handful of potential Millwood suitors enumerated by Ben Nicholson-Smith earlier on Thursday. The Yankees are part of the group, too, and it stands to reason that Andy Pettitte's retirement might strengthen their interest, writes Chris Bahr of the Sporting News.
  • The Red Sox's interest in trading for Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista is telling because it indicates there is a belief among baseball executives and talent evaluators that Bautista's monstrous 54-homer campaign in 2010 was not a fluke, writes Jon Paul Morosi of The Red Sox eventually got their man when they signed free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford, so Bautista-to-Boston is obviously off, notes Morosi, but it bodes well for Bautista in his final season before hitting free agency.
  • Brewers reliever LaTroy Hawkins said that his surgically repaired shoulder feels good and that he'll compete for a spot in Milwaukee's bullpen, tweets Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Hawkins signed a two-year, $7.5MM deal with Milwaukee prior to last season but pitched in just 18 games before being lost to an injured labrum and rotator cuff. Hawkins has a guaranteed contract, so the Brewers will surely want him to be at full strength and pitching well, but it bears watching how they handle him if he struggles with injury and/or ineffectiveness.

Anthopoulos Talks Hill, Encarnacion, Wells, Arencibia

Alex Anthopoulos says he has has 'tinkered' and 'talked' about acquiring a third baseman and won't rule out potential acquisitions. But the Blue Jays GM remains confident in Jose Bautista's ability to play the position all season long. The defending AL home run champ played 48 games at third last year and spent 225 games at the hot corner for the Pirates from 2007-08, so the Blue Jays say they're set at third.

Last year's third baseman, Edwin Encarnacion, will combine with Adam Lind to play first base and DH. The Blue Jays are hopeful that Lind can handle first defensively and they're optimistic about Encarnacion's power potential. Anthopoulos says he thinks Encarnacion has "one more gear in there" and while he hesitated before comparing him to Bautista, the GM says he can see Encarnacion hitting 30 homers or more in 2011.

The Blue Jays are also looking for a bounceback season from Aaron Hill, and they have a decision to make before the season starts. The team can either exercise Hill's 2012-14 options before the coming season begins or they can wait until the offseason, at which point they'll be able to exercise his 2012-13 options or just his 2012 option. Anthopoulos declined to elaborate on the team's plan, but did emphasize that the sides aren't bound to Hill's current deal.

“There’s a lot of flexibility,” Anthopoulos told a crowd of about 500 Blue Jays fans at last night's State of the Franchise event. “We’re not tied into anything. There’s nothing that prevents us from sitting down with Aaron and his agent and saying we want to do a five-year deal, four-year deal, six-year deal.”

Anthopoulos also discussed one multiyear deal that has become the responsibility of another organization. He declined to confirm reports that the Blue Jays are sending $5MM to the Angels as part of the Vernon Wells trade. 

"The deal that was announced [Wells straight up for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera] was the deal that was agreed to," he said.

The Blue Jays have money to spend now that they've unloaded most or all of Wells' deal and they remain open to making acquisitions. Anthopoulos, a Montreal native and former Expos employee, says he can relate to fans who want a bona fide slugger like Vladimir Guerrero.

"I understand," Anthopoulos said. "He was one of my favorite players growing up and he's someone that I admire." 

However, Anthopoulos exaplined that he doesn't want to acquire players who get playing time in place of developing players. For example, the Blue Jays intend to provide their top catching prospect with the chance to show major league pitchers why he won the Pacific Coast League MVP last year.

“We really don’t want to get in the way of J.P. Arencibia because we do believe that he’s an important component of this team” Anthopoulos said. “He has nothing more to prove down [in the minors]. He needs to get an opportunity to play up here and we might have to let him live through some struggles early on.”

If the Blue Jays don't spend on free agents or through trades, they say they'll have more to spend on player development, the amateur draft and international free agency. Amateur spending will not end the Blue Jays' 17-year playoff drought immediately, but it's promising news for fans of a team that has seven of the first 78 selections in the upcoming June draft.

AL East Links: Red Sox, Bautista, Wells, Jeter

Four American League East teams won at least 85 games last year. Here are some notes on AL East clubs, as they prepare to compete in baseball's most challenging division:

  • It's "doubtful" that the Red Sox will sign another pitcher to a Major League contract this offseason, reports's Alex Speier.  One reported Boston target, Joe Beimel, has already been offered a minor league deal by the Orioles and has three other teams interested.
  • The "belief" is that the Blue Jays will go to an arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  There have been rumors that the Jays might avoid a hearing by signing Bautista to a long-term contract, but Bautista's agent told Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the team has yet to offer such a deal to the defending AL home run champion.  Check out our Arb Tracker for the latest.
  • Many of Bautista's current and former teammates believe Vernon Wells will thrive in L.A, Morosi writes.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman suggested this morning that Derek Jeter will likely shift to the outfield before his current deal expires, but he tells's Bryan Hoch that it's "not an issue we have to deal with right now" (Twitter link).
  • The Orioles have "limited funds" at this stage, according to Jon Heyman of (on Twitter).
  • Carl Crawford, who recently left one AL East team for another, plans to meet some of his former Rays teammates for dinner this spring, and B.J. Upton jokes that it will be a good chance for Crawford to put his new contract to good use. "I won’t be the first one to pull out my credit card,’’ Upton told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (Twitter link).
  • Steve Melewski of discussed the challenges of developing healthy pitchers with Orioles scouting director Joe Jordan.
  • As Roch Kubatko of writes, the Orioles could sign a utility player to a minor league deal and have him compete for a job with Brendan Harris and Robert Andino.
  •'s Rob Bradford explains why Manny Ramirez's $2MM base salary isn't necessarily a bad omen for David Ortiz, who will hit free agency after 2011. Big Papi has continued to produce offensively, so Bradford suggests the slugger could be in line for an $8-9MM salary next offseason.

Red Sox Pursued Jose Bautista Trade

The Red Sox "made multiple offers" for Jose Bautista during the Winter Meetings, reports Ken Rosenthal of  Boston "never got the sense that the Blue Jays were serious about a deal" and Rosenthal reports that several other clubs inquired about Bautista's availability as well.

One would think that the Sox would've had to pay a premium to extract Bautista from their division rivals, but needless to say, that trade would have completely altered the shape of the offseason.  Let's play alternate reality for a moment and explore how a Bautista deal would have affected Boston's two biggest winter moves…

  • The Adrian Gonzalez trade.  Rosenthal notes that the Red Sox were specifically looking for an outfielder (Carlos Beltran and Magglio Ordonez were also options), so a Bautista deal would've kept Kevin Youkilis at third base and left Boston looking for a big bat at first.  It's hard to see Theo Epstein, however, cleaning out his farm system for the sake of two trades, when Boston has the finances to simply sign a big-name free agent.  It's also possible the Jays would've wanted some of the prospects that the Sox sent to the Padres for Gonzalez.  That said, the Red Sox had been interested in Gonzalez for so long that they surely put him at a higher level of importance than acquiring Bautista.
  • The Carl Crawford signing.  Bautista's presence would've made Carl Crawford's signing unnecessary, unless the Red Sox were prepared to move J.D. Drew or just keep a $14MM player in a bench role.  If Crawford doesn't land in Boston, that has a domino effect on several other teams; for instance, if Crawford instead had signed with the Angels, then the club wouldn't have hade a need for Vernon Wells.

Ten Arbitration Cases To Watch

There aren't many unsigned arbitration eligible players remaining at this point in the winter, but many of the most high-profile cases remain unresolved. As MLBTR's Arb Tracker shows, 26 arbitration eligible players have yet to agree on their 2011 salaries. Some of them will sign extensions, some will go to hearings and others will avoid arbitration with one-year deals. Here's a primer on ten of the most interesting arbitration eligible players out there:

10. Mike Napoli, Blue Jays - In case arbitration cases weren't complicated enough, the Blue Jays have to defend the Angels' number ($5.3MM) if they go to an arbitration hearing with Napoli, who filed at $6.1MM. The numbers stand, even though the Blue Jays acquired the catcher/first baseman after the Angels exchanged arbitration submissions with him.

9. R.A. Dickey, Mets – Dickey has said he's open to a multiyear deal. We'll soon know whether Mets GM Sandy Alderson wants to extend the knuckleballer or settle on a contract in the $3.35-4.7MM range.

8. Delmon Young, Twins - There's a $1.6MM difference between Young's asking price ($6.25MM) and the Twins' suggested salary ($4.65MM). 

7. Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles – As I explained yesterday, Guthrie's case could come down to his durability (175 innings in four consecutive seasons) vs. the fact that comparable starters (John Danks, Chad Billingsley, Matt Garza) have been harder to hit.

6. Rickie Weeks, Brewers – The Brewers are no longer discussing a multiyear deal with Weeks, who is asking for $7.2MM. The Brewers countered with $4.85MM.

5. Francisco Liriano, Twins - Liriano made $1.6MM last year and posted a 3.62 ERA with 9.4 K/9 in 191 2/3 innings. His representatives at Legacy Sports will argue that he has earned a raise to $5MM, while Bill Smith and the Twins say $3.6MM is more appropriate.

4. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros – Rodriguez's $10.25MM asking price seems high until you realize how few arbitration eligible pitchers have comparable big league experience (the Astros offered $8MM). Rodriguez is just 15 innings shy of 1,000 for his career and his ERA hasn't surpassed 3.60 in any of the past three seasons. The lefty's 985 innings are 246 more than Erik Bedard had after 2008, the season that set Bedard up for a $7.75MM payday. Few arbitration eligible pitchers earn eight-figure deals, but few have as much big league experience and success as Rodriguez.

3. Jered Weaver, Angels - Weaver requested $8.8MM, while the Angels countered with $7.465MM. Either way, the Scott Boras client will be earning substantially more than he did in 2010, when he made $4.625MM.

2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays – I wrote last fall that Bautista's case comes down to his historic 2010 season vs. the forgettable campaigns he strung together before last year. Click here to read more.

1. Josh Hamilton, Rangers - The Rangers could bring up Hamilton’s injury history and past substance abuse, but they would have to do so subtly, says Michael Vlessides, a veteran arbitration consultant.  “It’s the fine line between how much do you pick on the guy who’s the MVP. If you do it too much, you can lose a lot of credibility” Vlessides said. Beating MVPs in arbitration hearings isn’t easy, but the Pirates beat Barry Bonds after he won his first MVP in 1990 and again the following offseason.

Heyman On Fielder, Papelbon, Rays, Giants

Prince Fielder is looking to join the $200MM club and the Red Sox considered trading Jonathan Papelbon to the A's or White Sox, according to Jon Heyman of Here are the details and the rest of Heyman's rumors:

  • Fielder is looking for at least eight years and $200MM or so when he hits free agency after the season, according to Heyman. Not surprisingly, the Brewers don't like the idea of committing that much to their first baseman.
  • The Red Sox talked to the A's and White Sox about Jonathan Papelbon. Boston appeared willing to offer Rafael Soriano a one-year deal and make him their closer. If the sides had agreed to a deal, the Red Sox would have sent Papelbon elsewhere, likely to Oakland or Chicago
  • The Rays, who are moving toward a deal with Johnny Damon, have also considered Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Russell Branyan and Nick Johnson.
  • The Yankees hope to hear from Andy Pettitte soon, but the lefty is still mulling retirement.
  • The Giants appear to be nearing a one-year deal with Andres Torres. As our Arb Tracker shows, Torres filed at $2.6MM and the Giants countered with $1.8MM.
  • Heyman says there's "scuttlebutt" that the Rangers could look to lock Josh Hamilton up on a multiyear deal. 
  • Heyman talked to executives about Joey Votto's new deal and arrived at the conclusion I reached after talking to insiders earlier in the week: the Reds didn't appear to gain much from their deal with the reigning NL MVP.
  • Heyman points out that Jose Bautista's representatives will have to convince arbitrators to overlook the string of pedestrian seasons that led up to Bautista's mammoth 2010 campaign. For more on Bautista's case, click here.