Monday, February 14, 2011

Jose Bautista's Arbitration Hearing Postponed

Four days.  That's the amount of time the Blue Jays have to sign Jose Bautista to a long term deal before three arbitrators make the contract decision for them.  So, if it's taken this long all ready, why would four more days result in the multi-year pact all Jays fans are so desperately hoping for?

First of all, we must ask ourselves why the clubs have failed to come close to signing even a short-term contract.
From the Blue Jays' perspective: Jose Bautista is a hard-working, middle-aged player who shockingly broke out of his career-long drought to hit 54 home runs last year.  Not to be forgotten: he hit most of his home runs at home, hit only one to right field throughout the entire duration of the season, and posted a measly .260 average.
From Bautista's perspective: He is a versatile player who plays his heart out every game.  He managed a well-deserved 54 home runs last year and he expects that he can do so again.  His batting average was below-average, but not unreasonably low, and it improved as the season progressed.

An interesting fact about the contract negotiations is that, according to JoBau's agent, the Jays had not offered Bautista a multi-year deal up until this point.  Why they would wait until the last minute is completely and utterly inexplicable.  General Manager Alex Anthopoulos has, during his tenure as the Jays' GM, seemed determined and confident with all of his decisions.  This last-minute decision is somewhat out of character.

Bautista's apparent wish to remain in Toronto long-term may also have an effect on the contract negotiations.  Due to this fact, four days may be plenty of time for the two sides to work out a deal.

What to expect: If a deal is made (and it seems likely as the Jays probably would not have requested the deadline's postponement if they were not expecting to to come to an agreement) it will probably be no longer than 2 years with a club option.  Alex Anthopoulos loves to throw a club option in there and likely won't finalize accept any contract without one.  Expect Bautista to receive a salary closer to the Blue Jays' arbitration submission in the first year and closer to Bautista's in the second.  The thrid year (the club option year) would see Bautista awarded around $12.5-$13.5 million.  I wouldn't be surprised to see some incentives thrown in there, as well (especially in that lower-paid first season).

The Jays signing Bautista would be the optimal decision for a team whose fan base needs something to be excited about.  I will post more information as I receive it as to the contract situation.


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