When a star player is in a contract year, we often hear feel-good stories about potential hometown discounts so the current team can hold onto their star. There will be none of that sentiment in Jose Bautista‘s contract extension negotiation.
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In fact, Bautista said he’s not interested in negotiating at all. The Blue Jays slugger submitted an offer to the team with terms and annual salary that he feels he deserves. Although Toronto has tried to counter, the outfielder has said he’s not interested in negotiating. He says he’s proven his value and he’s deserving of the extension he seeks.
This is a bold strategy being deployed by Bautista, but really, what does he have to lose? Unless he gets injured this season, he’s going to get a ton of money in the offseason from someone, whether it’s from the Blue Jays or not. Still, the lack of candor from Bautista’s camp is a bit shocking.
Normally, even when a player feels the way Bautista does, they at least entertain other offers. That doesn’t appear it will be the case with one of the best power hitters in the league.
Based on what other players of his ability have gotten in the past, one has to think his request – or should we say demand – is in the neighborhood of four years and $100 million. Given the fact he will be 36 on Opening Day last year, it will be hard to convince teams to give him a fifth or sixth year.
However, the recent success of older stars like Nelson Cruz will likely help convince teams to still pay him $20-25 million a year as he approaches his 40th birthday. Whether that’s right or wrong remains irrelevant, because if Bautista can get that much money, who’s to stop him?
All that’s sure is that the Blue Jays should start making alternate plans. If they’re trying to negotiate and Bautista won’t budge, they might be wasting their time. Clearly, there is a difference of opinion on his worth.
With an already strong lineup, Toronto might be better served spending the $20-25 million a year on the rotation, an area of weakness north of the border. Surely, losing Bautista would hurt, but having an extra arm or two in the rotation might make up for the difference.
Whether they like that alternative or not, Toronto should start dealing with reality: they’re in the middle of a one-sided negotiation and the other side currently has all the leverage.