According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN the Toronto Blue Jays and Jose Bautista have asked that today’s arbitration hearing be postponed until Friday so that the two parties can work on a long-term deal.

The news comes after Bautista’s agent Bean Stringfellow, warned the Blue Jays late last week that if the team didn’t agree on a multi-year deal with his client before the arbitration hearing, like Albert Pujols, he would be unwilling to negotiate until the very end of the season.

Bautista was seeking $10.5 million through arbitration, while the team filed for $7.6 million.

By ridding themselves of the Vernon Wells contract and the Alex Rios burden before that, the Blue Jays are actually in a place financially where signing Bautista to a multi-year deal before he further proves himself isn’t necessary.  The only reason the team has to sign him right now to multiple years would be to cash in on the discount that won’t be available if he manages to repeat last season.  With their new found financial freedom the Blue Jays no longer need a risky discount.  The team can afford to take a laissez-faire approach with Bautista for the coming season and then decide, based on his performance, as well the younger players currently in the Jays system, whether or not he’s an integral part of the team.

From Alex Anthopoulos:

Our arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista has been postponed to allow further negotiation between the player and the club. As it is the Blue Jays policy not to discuss contract negotiations, I will not be making any further comments regarding Jose Bautista until an agreement is reached or the conclusion of the arbitration process.

Comments (8)

  1. I’m talking myself into liking this, as long as it’s for two or three years, and no more than $11 or $12 million per (possibly with either team or vesting options for big money). I don’t think that’s an unrealistic amount of money to pay (or risk to take on) for: a) a bit more time to see if Bautista’s improvement is legit/what his real value is, and b) either the flexibility of options, or an extended period to negotiate a real big-money long-term extension, if it turns out that he’s worth it. Bautista limits his risk too, by getting set-for-life money in case it turns out 2010 was a flash in the pan.

  2. 10 million signing bonus, then 50 mil over 5 years.
    I’ll stick my neck out, I will be shocked if Bautista cannot keep his game at a high level over the full term of this contract. A power stick getting through the strike zone at warp speed, and a power arm, a character guy who will walk 100 times, that doesn’t sound like a flash in the pan to me.
    I think this man is the real deal, with serious athleticism and a work ethic that will keep him productive throughout this contract. Barring serious injury is my only caveat, but that goes for every big league player.

  3. I will not try to pretend this thought does not excite me.

    And, no, it’s not just so that the Bautista jersey I’m wearing will stay relevant for longer. The changes he made last year were real, he’s still (fairly) young, and not really blocking anyone relevant; a medium term (3-5 year) contract at a reasonable AAV ($15MM?) is far, far from the worst thing in the world.

  4. Ya know, I want to believe, but why drop Wells’ bad contract and potentially take on another? I watched most games this year and enjoyed the ride, but I still have no idea whether Bautista is 40 homer guy, a 30 homer guy, or a 25 homer guy who got on a real tear. If the term is short, and the contract backloaded with club options and player incentives, I’d do it. Otherwise I’d sit tight and pay top dollar if he turns in another monster year. Or let him walk, take the picks, and spend my money on Prince Fielder. My gut feeling is he’s just good, but I’d be happy to be proved wrong.

  5. … which is kind of what you just said in the previous post. Sorry, just arrived late.

  6. AA has worked too hard at building the future of this franchise to suddenly compromise it by guaranteeing JBau big time dollars for a lengthy period of time. I have faith AA will work out a team friendly deal that limits the guaranteeed dollars and has several option years.

    2 year contract @ $10 mil/year plus 2-3 option years @ $14 mil/year

  7. Limit it to a maximum of three years guaranteed. Use a signing bonus, performance bonuses, options, clauses, whatever, but do not let a player who has had one good (albeit great) year get anymore than three guaranteed years. Then as the contract goes along, you can keep re-evaluating what to do with him when it’s up, but right now based on past performance there’s absolutely no reason (and not many precedents) to give him more years than that.

  8. I really don’t think we’ll be seeing Vernon Wells type money here. So if it is $10 mill a season, that is much less of a burden than the 20mill/season owed to Wells.

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