Jose Bautista, Contracts, and Spring Crazies

BAT. FLIP. WHAT. 2016 Topps - Jose Bautista

2016 Topps – Jose Bautista

First of all – Spring Training, right? The Toronto Blue Jays have had their first few official workouts for pitchers, catchers, and whoever else wanted to be there. Of course, like everything else with the club since 2015 ended, things are not drama-free in Blue Jay land. We’re just a couple of days in, and we’ve already had the almost Jay Bruce trade, and now we’ve got this Jose Bautista stuff.

I’m sure you already know what happened with Jose. But, briefly: on day one, he got into a discussion with reporters about his contract (which expires after this year) and informed us all that he’d delivered his offer to the team, and that there would be no more hometown discounts, and no negotiations. Then, on day two, word leaked that the contract that he’s looking for from the team is in the five-year, $150-million range.

It doesn’t need to be said that fans are handling everything so far with their typical laid-back, well-thought out, intelligent approach, and nobody is going crazy about anything at all.

Now, there’s no way to know if the numbers reported by TSN’s Rick Westhead are accurate, but he’s probably got some decent sources, and a lot of times, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. If $150 million is the number, though, my initial reaction is that it’s just way too much money, and Jose can go flip bats at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium or wherever else he wants to go. As a fan, it’ll hurt, but that’s life.

But then on the other hand, maybe he’s worth it. And if you take the five year, $65 million deal he signed after his breakout 2010 season and add it to five more years at $150 million, that works out to an average annual salary of $21.5 million. That’s reasonable for 10 years of Jose Bautista, right?

But here’s the problem. That’s not a fair average number to use. During the first five years of the deal, we have to remember, $13 million seemed like a steep price to pay for a relative unknown. Bautista had come out of nowhere to hit 54 home runs in 2010, and a long-term deal was a risk. Sure, it was a risk for the player, too, but I’d say it was more of a risk for the team who had no idea if he could come anywhere close to that number again.

HE DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A BEARD YET. 2010 Topps - Jose Bautista

2010 Topps – Jose Bautista

Those first five years were in no way a hometown discount. If anything the club did the player a favour, hoping that his production would continue, and guaranteeing him some serious money at the same time. As we all know, the production did continue, but even the optimists were nervous about $65 million back then. Remember, we didn’t really know who this guy was. He didn’t even have a full-time beard yet, how could he be trusted?

As for the next five years, no matter the dollar figure, we’re not getting a guarantee of the Jose Bautista that we’ve gotten to know so well. He’ll be 36 years old when his next contract starts. Granted, he’s known to care of himself and is probably going to be productive for at least another few years, but $30 million a year productive? Yikes.

When it comes to the money, I’m just going to hope that the $150 million price tag has been exaggerated. I do think that there’s a little bit more than just playing ability on the table here. Bat flip in the ALDS aside, Bautista has been the face of the franchise for a number of years, and he’s done an awful lot of great things. I’m fine with overpaying a bit for a player’s twilight years when you take things like that into consideration. I just think overdoing it isn’t necessary, and I’ll tell you, Rogers won’t, either. They might go a bit higher than normal for Jose, but not much.

Now, the other item that I want to talk about is the fact that Bautista came right out on day one and started talking about his contract. I know, I know, he was asked about it, he didn’t just go Sean Avery and bring stuff up to be a dick. But part of me reacted by saying, really, Jose? Really? It’s day one and you’re telling the fan base that you’re not even going to negotiate with the team? I’m not sure I like it when I think about it that way. Unless he’s just trying to fuck with the crazies in the fan base – then, it’s pretty funny.

On the other hand, however, I respect the shit out of what Bautista did. He came right out and was (presumably) honest about the whole thing. As John Lott said, at least we’re not getting “false-hope lollipops” like the ones we got from David Price. If the Jays aren’t going to be able to re-sign him, at least we know where the player stands on the whole thing.

The bottom line is, no matter what happens with the expiring contracts of Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, it’s not like all of this should be a shock to us. We’re talking about a couple of players who aren’t getting any younger, and we’ve known for a while that this could happen. Take those two out of the lineup and there’s still a pretty solid core in place for the next few years.

And come on, 2016 is going to be amazing. Remember 2015? That was fun, right? And remember the starting pitcher on Opening Day in 2015? Let’s all settle down and enjoy a great year – even if it is the last with Jose and Edwin.