Since slugger Jose Bautista declined the one-year, $17.2MM qualifying offer made to him by the Blue Jays at the outset of the offseason, the club has not made him a formal offer that exceeds that amount, Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweets.
That’s not exactly surprising, perhaps, as Bautista’s market has seemingly not yet developed — in large part, perhaps, because former teammate Edwin Encarnacion and several other power bats (particularly Mark Trumbo) also remain unsigned. But it’s notable that Toronto hasn’t even seen fit to put that kind of cash on the table yet, as the team reportedly dangled four years and $80MM to Encarnacion at one point (though that offer seemingly no longer stands).
We took a look at Bautista’s market recently, upon Morosi’s suggestion that a reunion with the Jays could make the most sense at this point. That may well turn out to be the case, but it doesn’t seem likely to happen any time soon unless Toronto’s interest perks up or Bautista decides to settle for a lot less than he surely hoped for when he turned down the QO.
MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted that Bautista could earn $51MM over three years on the open market, but there was always some downside in his case given his age, defensive limitations, and recent power drop, as well as (especially) the presence of so many other appealing power hitters in free agency. Because he rejected the qualifying offer, of course, Bautista would also cost a signing team a draft choice (or prevent the Jays from adding an additional selection), which further dents his value.
As Dierkes noted at the outset of the offseason, a one-year arrangement always seemed a plausible outcome, and a pillow contract now seems more likely than ever. Of course, it’s far too soon to say that a multi-year guarantee won’t be found; ongoing market developments may yet decide that question. Since our latest snapshot of the overall market for Bautista, we’ve heard some updated chatter on the potential connection to the Rays and the seeming unlikelihood of a match with the Mariners.