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.