Jose Bautista Rumors
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.
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?
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.
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 WEEI.com 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.