Jose Bautista Rumors
Links for Friday on the 25th anniversary of Roger Clemens' first 20 strikeout game...
- MLB officials say Jim Crane is still on track to buy the Astros from Drayton McLane, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle. Justice argues that Crane should bring Lance Berkman, Andy Pettitte and former GM Gerry Hunsicker back to Houston if he does take over.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports argues that manager Charlie Manuel needs to be cautious with his rotation, because it’s “by far the Phillies' biggest strength.”
- Former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi told Tom Verducci of SI.com that he liked Jose Bautista enough to trade for him, but wasn’t expecting historic production from the former utility player. “If you told me he would hit 20 home runs, I would have believed it because you could see the power,” Ricciardi said. “But no way could you see 50.”
- D'Backs GM Kevin Towers was on hand to watch high schooler Bubba Starling play yesterday, according to ESPN.com's Keith Law (on Twitter). A two sport athlete, Starling is arguably the top high school position player in the 2011 draft.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told Jon Heyman of SI.com that he thought carefully before locking up Jose Bautista to a $65MM extension. "When you spend that kind of money, I don't think you can ever be completely comfortable," Anthopoulos said. "And I am one to agonize over everything, anyway,'' Both Anthopoulos and Bautista acknowledged that a second 54-homer season is unlikely, but that doesn't mean the former utility player can't produce. Here are the rest of Heyman's rumors...
- Boston's front office has not seriously considered cutting Tim Wakefield.
- Dennys Reyes, who can opt out of his contract Friday, will likely make the team as well, according to Heyman.
- Two scouts say Marlins third baseman Matt Dominguez isn't ready to hit in the major leagues. However, he's an above-average defender.
- Though manager Joe Girardi won't say as much, Ivan Nova has locked up the Yankees' No. 4 starter job, according to Heyman.
- It appears that Oliver Perez will find a job. The Yankees and Brewers aren't interested.
- Scouts tell Heyman that Twins pitching prospect Kyle Gibson isn't far from the majors.
The latest from the AL East, as Derek Jeter deflects Hank Steinbrenner's criticism...
- ESPN.com's Jayson Stark argues quite convincingly that Jose Bautista is the face of the Blue Jays. Toronto manager John Farrell compared Bautista to Jayson Werth, another late bloomer who signed a big contract this offseason.
- The Red Sox intend to pick up Terry Francona's two-year option at the end of the year, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Francona says he doesn't know how the Red Sox intend to approach the option, which is worth a total of $9MM.
- John Tomase of the Boston Herald re-imagines the 1988 draft and suggests Tim Wakefield, then a first base prospect with some power, would have been worthy of a seventh overall selection. The Pirates drafted the future Red Sox knuckleballer in the eighth round.
- Former Blue Jays and Yankees DH Josh Phelps signed with the Italian Baseball League team Telemarket Rimini according to mister-baseball.com. The 32-year-old former top prospect hit 64 homers in the majors, including 20 for the 2003 Blue Jays.
- ESPN.com's Keith Law includes Blue Jays prospect Brett Lawrie on his list of young players who are ready for the majors in one respect, but who need development in other areas. Lawrie's bat is nearly ready, but the Blue Jays need to figure out his future position.
Jose Bautista, an unlikely home run champion if there ever was one, signed a five-year, $64MM extension yesterday. The Blue Jays are hoping that the 30-year-old's breakout season (.260/.378/.617 line, 54 homers) is a sign that Bautista has transformed himself as a hitter. The skeptics, however, are not convinced that one year of elite production warrants a $64MM commitment.
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has earned the benefit of the doubt, if you ask ESPN.com's Buster Olney. But Olney says he probably would have traded Bautista if any team "dangled an acceptable package" and let another organization risk its money.
Dave Cameron of FanGraphs, who wasn't sure about the deal initially, says he likes the extension the more he considers it. Bautista has unusually good control of the strike zone and can still be one of baseball's most productive hitters if his power drops off, according to Cameron.
Anthopoulos told MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm that he believes in Bautista and is willing to take a calculated risk on him. Would you have done the same thing?
Last year wasn't supposed to be Jose Bautista's contract year. At the beginning of the 2010 campaign, Bautista was a utility player who had never hit more than 16 homers in any major league season and was still two years away from free agency. But his 54 home run outburst has officially earned him a five-year extension. The Blue Jays announced that they have avoided tomorrow's scheduled arbitration hearing and agreed to a $64MM extension with Bautista.
Bautista will earn $8MM in 2011 and $14MM per season from 2012-15, according to the team. The Blue Jays hold a $14MM option for 2016.
As our Arbitration Tracker shows, Bautista filed for $10.5MM and the team countered with a $7.6MM submission. The five-year deal, which resembles Dan Uggla's extension, buys out Bautista's fourth and final season of arbitration and his first four seasons of free agency.
Bautista posted a .260/.378/.617 line for the Blue Jays last year. He reached base like a leadoff hitter (.378 OBP) but his surprising power (.617 slugging percentage) pushed him to the heart of the Blue Jays' order before long. A versatile defender who spent most of last season in right field, Bautista is slated to start the coming season as Toronto's starting third baseman. For more on his unusual arbitration case click here.
Hunter Pence, who has a hearing scheduled tomorrow, is the lone unsigned arbitration eligible player remaining.
Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes first reported that the sides were close to an agreement and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the deal was done.
7:44pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the contract would also include a sixth year club option that could push the total value of the deal to $78MM (Twitter link).
7:05pm: The Blue Jays and Jose Bautista are close to agreeing to a five-year contract extension worth approximately $65MM, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes. The deal would also include financial support for Bautista's charitable activities in Toronto and the Dominican Republic. Some details still need to be worked out and a physical must take place before the contract is finalized.
As our Arbitration Tracker shows, Bautista filed for $10.5MM his final time through arbitration, the team $7.6MM. A five-year contract would buy out his final year of arbitration plus four free agent years. The two sides asked to have their arbitration hearing pushed back earlier this week, and indication that they were closing in on deal.
Bautista, 30, is coming off a historic 2010 season in which he hit 54 homers, the 19th highest single-season total in history. He also drew 100 walks, so his prodigous power output was backed up by a .378 OBP. Of course that was the first time Bautista performed at a star level. He'd hit just .238/.329/.400 with 59 homers in over 2,000 career plate appearances coming into 2010, so the Jays are clearly expecting Bautista to repeat last year's performance into his mid-30's.
Some news items to wrap up the evening....
- In regards to the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista pushing back their arbitration hearing, a source tells FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi (Twitter link) that when hearings are delayed, it "frequently" means a long-term deal is on the way.
- Reds pitching coach Bryan Price confirms that Aroldis Chapman will pitch relief for Cincinnati this season, reports Fanhouse's John Hickey. The Reds' rotation is deep enough that they "don't have to push Chapman," Price said. "We don't need to stockpile innings on him at this stage of his career...But down the road will he start? I think he will."
- The Mariners announced that Ken Griffey Jr. will be a special consultant for the club, according to the team's Twitter feed. MLB.com's Greg Johns outlines some of the tasks Griffey will perform in his new position.
- Chris Ray tells Greg Johns that he turned down a Major League offer from another club to sign a minor league deal with the Mariners since Ray will get a chance to close or at least set up games in Seattle. "It doesn't really mean a whole lot if it's a one-year contract [elsewhere] and I'm a free agent again next year if I'm pitching basically the scrap innings," Johns said. "That's not something that will help me out in the future. From this point forward, I want to be the guy who goes in late in the ballgame."
- Jeffrey Loria thinks the Marlins are a playoff-caliber team, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Loria also hinted that Florida's payroll will rise next year when the Fish move into their new Miami stadium.
- Jorge Posada said "it wouldn't surprise" him if Andy Pettitte pitched again, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
Happy Bobby Valentine day everybody! Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Try the roast beef and be sure to tip your staff writers. Here are some links for Monday night..
- Melissa Segura of SI (via Twitter) reminds us that some of baseball's elite international free agents will be playing in Tuesday's Dominican International League All-Star Game.
- From all indications, Michael Young isn't a fit for the Marlins, writes MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star (via Twitter) is "99-percent sure" that the postponement of Jose Bautista's arbitration hearing will result in a multiyear deal. The session, originally scheduled for Monday, has been pushed back until Friday.
- It's not yet known why Elmer Dessens' deal with the Giants fell through but Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle writes that when a team is tightlipped on such matters, it could mean they did not like something in the physical.
- Braves infielder Martin Prado was hesitant about changing positions to accommodate the arrival of Dan Uggla but is now comfortable with the move to left field, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
- The Twins have been impressed by Felix Jorge's development over the last few months, writes Kelly Thesier of MLB.com.
8:44pm: In a text message to Morosi, Bautista confirmed that the hearing has been rescheduled for Friday and the sides are talking about multiyear proposals.
6:48pm: Bautista's arbitration hearing has been postponed until Friday, tweets Morosi.
5:55pm: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has issued the following comment, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).
"Our arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista has been postponed to allow further negotiation between the player and the club," the GM said.
Meanwhile, Morosi also tweets that the slugger told him that he is still "very hopeful" about remaining in Toronto long term.
Bautista said last week that he would stop discussing long-term deals with the Blue Jays after his arbitration hearing, which had been scheduled for today. If the Blue Jays' request is granted, they will have four extra days to work out a deal with Bautista and his representatives at Proformance.
Bautista, one of five unsigned arbitration eligible players, filed for $10.5MM and the Blue Jays countered with $7.6MM, as our Arb Tracker shows. Bautista hit a major league-leading 54 homers last year and posted a .260/.378/.617 line for the Blue Jays. For more on his case click here.
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.