More Than Five Years, More Than $150-Million

Jose Bautista
Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

I could use not talking about this Jose Bautista contract stuff any longer, seeing as the only movement we’re going to see on it from the Jays’ side of things is, I’m now exceptionally certain, when they let him move on into free agency next fall.

They’re definitely not going to trade him (so please stop that), but a day after we figured he was crazy for possibly asking for five years and $150-million — or figuring that figure was so outlandish that the report must be bunk — we’re learning that what he actually wants is more.


And that’s coming from the two best-sourced guys in the game, Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal.

To wit:

If it’s true, it’s pretty amazingly absurd. Especially for a guy whose savvy we were praising two days ago because of how cognizant his is of how the club’s parent company operates.

Heyman points out that Bautista is in tremendous shape and showing no signs of decline — which, at least on the defensive side of the ball, I’d quibble with (and so would URZ and DRS — though they’d also say the only years he wasn’t straight-up bad in right field were 2012 and 2013) — and that Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera are getting paid through their age 42 seasons. But, of course, all of that is completely beside the point.

Dave Cameron hits the nail on the head in a piece at FanGraphs (which was written back when it was only a reported five-year, $150-million ask):

It’s patently incorrect to look at what other players are going to get for their age 36-40 seasons on deals that start earlier. You simply can’t look at Cabrera’s deal with the Tigers, which covers his age 33-40 seasons, and pretend that the Tigers would have paid the same price for the last five years of the deal if they weren’t also buying out his age 33-35 seasons, and Bautista won’t have those to sell.

Jose, if the reports are accurate, is trying to make up a huge deficit with one swing, and of all people he should know that you just can’t do that. It’s unfortunate for him that he made so much less than his market value for the entirety of his current contract with the Blue Jays, but it was fortunate for him that they were willing to take the risk and lock him up for so long when they did, given that he had only one season as an elite slugger under his belt at the time.

We know now that he would have made significantly more if he hadn’t signed that deal and gone to free agency following the 2012 season, but that was hugely uncertain in the winter following 2011 — even for him, otherwise he wouldn’t have put pen to paper. But that doesn’t mean his market now is going to — or ought to — reflect those years he’s already cashed a cheque for. If this demand is true, and it holds, he’ll hit the open market and will surely see very quickly how crazy it is.

Just about every team will be willing to go to three years on him, some will be willing to offer him four, and the team that gives him an offer of five, if there is one, will probably be the one who gets him. But how many teams will go to six years? How many teams have ever give a player heading into his age-36 season that many years?

In lieu of actually doing research, I’m just going to go ahead and say none. (I crowdsourced this question, and the most anyone can seem to come up with is Barry Bonds getting five years and $90-million in 2002, heading into his age-37 year).

And as great a job as Jose has done of keeping himself in shape, and as advantageous a position as he has as the top bat in a weak free agent class, it seems inconceivable that the market next winter will tell him anything but exactly that. 

Which is fine. Go see what the market says, Jose! You know he’d hate himself a little bit for once again giving up the chance to find out, and I’d wager that is precisely why he’s put such a ridiculous premium on getting himself locked up early.

But obviously for the Blue Jays the problem is that once other teams get involved in it, it’s going to be a whole lot harder for them to play ball. At least theoretically — or, more accurately, at least given the artificial constraints on the club’s budget.

So… maybe start to steady yourself for this not ending well. But in the meantime don’t get too hung up on the particulars of this ask. All it is is Jose’s way of saying that he badly wants to test the market and see what he’s really worth. Because it’s certainly not this, and he has to know that, even if he maybe doesn’t want to believe it. Time marches forward. 

  • BlueJayMatt

    Oh wow. And I thought 5 years $150M was too steep.

    I always thought that only one of EE and Bautista would be back, looking very likely to be EE at this point.

    • Matty

      Jose is not getting a hundred and fifty million! not one single position player free agent out earned what was expected. Heyward got 180 was expecting 200 + Davis got 160 was expecting 200 +, Upton got 130 was expecting 160 +. Cespedes was expecting 130ish he got 75M. With the renewed emphasis on defence and with Jose and his limitations, he will not even come close to achieving his contract demands. Even the Dodgers let Grienke walk at 32 years old, even the Dodgers have limits.

  • Morgan Burton

    Jesus why is this BS ruining what should be an exciting time for Jays fans? Go Jose, go off to Arizona and die in obscurity with Greinke, after slugging Toronto to a World Series in 2016!!!

  • Those ripping Jose. How do we know it’s actually coming from Jose? It could be made up completely? It could be coming from the parent company?

    So just ease off on the whole “Screw Jose” talk.

    Just stop with the whole “this is what he is asking for. Definitely.”

      • OakvilleJays

        I am surprised that he was so open at his press conference. I think Bautista is aware how much Rogrs is trying to cash in on the teams playoff appearance last year.Rogers is making a fortune off last year’s playoff run & Bautista wants his share of the pie. The fictious payroll budget was blown out of the water 2 days ago , when Shapiro tried to acquire Jay Bruce for an extra $10M.

    • OakvilleJays

      Agreed Joanna. It seems to me that there is a rush to judgement on Jose. The cost of free agents is skyrocketing due to the extra $$$ flowing into baseball teams from TV rights etc.

      I think it’s annoying that people are pouncing on Jose after what he has done for the Jays since 2009. Without Jose & EE , this team would have been in last place virtually every year.

      I find it very strange that the numbers are being leaked so quickly?

      I wouldn’t be surprised that someone from Rogers is leaking numbers to try & get fans to blame Jose & hope he leaves the team.

      Did anyone of the on air personalities blast Rogers for spending $5bln on hockey tv rights which is even more absurd? No.

      Did anyone catch Blair interviewing Jeff Passan from Yahoo who said that AA offered Jon Lester 5/125 in 2014?

      Why is this information coming out now? Is Rogers trying to show that they can be generous ?


    I say we all just take a step back and let this play out a bit more before getting to worked up about it.

    He’s clearly not getting more than 5 years, and he’s clearly not getting paid 30 million for his age 40+ season(s).

    However, given the new CBA, who the hell knows anymore?

    I mean…..

    Peter Gammons ‏@pgammo 8h8 hours ago
    When I hear about outrageous player demands, signings, I remember since ’94 strike revenues have grown approximately . 655%, salaries 400%

  • fastball

    I’m pretty much resigned to Jose walking away after this season. I can’t see any way that the Jays would go 6 years on him – and I can’t see much of a chance that he’s going to back down after a public statement. I get the impression that he’s either supremely confident (or terribly arrogant) – but either way, any kind of softening on his part would seem like a concession…and I don’t think his ego would stand for it. While I totally understand his position – but in all fairness, Jose, the world isn’t fair. Sure, you should have gotten a lot more money over the past 3-odd seasons. I get that. But by polarizing the fanbase and waving the red flag so publicly in management’s face – I’m hoping that we won’t cut off our nose to spite our face.

    • OakvilleJays

      Agreed. It’s strange how quickly Bautista was to discuss his contract situation.I would prefer to focus on the team trying to win the division again.

      I think there are 10 players in their walk year, so there is a lot of potential for disruption in the clubhouse.

    • mktoronto

      You do realize that he’s not talking numbers, that this is all coming from other sources, right? He can also easily adjust the story after the season by saying that he was charging a premium to forgo the market.

      I don’t see where he’s being polarizing. It’s the trash media wanting to get clicks that is driving this.

  • Derrick

    I absolutely hate talking about this. It’s boring and has nothing to do with why I enjoy the Blue Jays and watching baseball.

    I’m frustrated with Jose for brining it up. There is no reason he needed to talk about it at all and now he and Shapiro and Co. (who I was starting to warm up to) need to deal with it for the remainder of Spring Training and the rest of the season.

    And to what end?

    • GSMC

      Jose brought it up because he was asked. His and EE’s contract situations have been the top stories of Spring Training. They are premium sluggers and this is going to be a topic until it’s resolved. It’s the same thing that Stamkos has to deal with in the hockey world.

    • mktoronto

      He brought it up because the media asked him. And no matter what he said the media would keep bringing it up. By framing it the way he did it becomes a story for a week and then disappears.

  • Formerly the Smasher

    Glad you backed off using defensive decline as a reason not to validate his numbers. JB played through blowing out his shoulder trying to throw a guy out at first. He kept EE in the lineup by doing so.

  • Chone Figgins

    for the last 2 weeks, I’ve been pointing and laughing at my 16 year old niece about kanye west, and her love for kanye west, and what a douchebag POS kanye west is – yesterday, she turned the table on me…thanks Jose

  • Just Another Idiot!

    Jose is making it easy on the Jays management to let him play out his contract.
    Those thinking EE will come in much lower may be in for a surprise.

  • Ryan_Oliver

    What if he is just asking for a similar deal to Scherzer, etc with a 5-10 year “Retirement package”? Keep José on board as an ambassador/employee beyond his retirement and defer money over a 5-10 year window after he retires? I’d accept that. Did you see Game 5?

    • AJ, Breakfast Army Fan

      I think this is probably it too. I’d rather toss this aside and focus on/get excited for the season to come. The media won’t do that though. They’ll try to milk it for every click they can get.

  • Morgan Burton

    Turns out he was talking about CDN dollars folks! Whew! 109 MIL USD over 5 years! Still, that will buy ya a lot of Strawberry Sunshines, am I right??


    I think its fair to compare A-Rod and Miggy’s contracts because lets look at this logically. Bautista is gonna most likely be hitting just as good in years 4-5 and 6 (if he gets that…he’s not going to) as a A-Rod and Miggy will be. The probability of that with the way he keeps in shape and how hard he works is high. No matter what its ALWAYS gonnna be a gamble but he’s the type of player you would be high on, we know thats the case.

    But in years 4-5 hes gonna be the only DH in MLB history in that kind of shape. He’s just going to be, barring no crazy injury (but thats like any other player/teams gamble). Again the probability with how he’s been going is SUPER high. I think its more correct that you cant use any other players numbers of decline and contracts talk when comparing Bautista to them. Its not fair to say you can only use the negative aspects of those numbers of other players but not the positive, thats just using information in your favour and disregarding the information that works against your argument as to why you think its a bad idea. Ass backwards.

    Would i give Jose 6 years? only if the amount that year is significantly low or somehow the contract is backloaded or something clever. I def would doe the 5 years for 30M tho. Get it done. I think its a better investment than a short term/lower cost of EE if you are choosing 1 of the 2. Not just on the field but off the field marketing wise.

    • Vermin Wells

      If you were buying JB’s 32-35 years along with his 36-40 years, you might be able to compare his worth to Miggy’s or ARod’s in the same breath. But Jose doesn’t have those years to sell, and there’s a huge difference. Those players don’t get the same $30M+ AAV, or the same number of contract years, if they sign deals at 36.

      I expect Jose to age well too, but let’s not go nuts. To expect him to age better than any player in MLB history is a bit optimistic.

      P.S. RIP Kelly Leak

      • HEINZ

        Yeah but of anyone in the MLB right now who would u bet on aging any better? Not even Harper or Trout fit that because of how hard they go in the OF and they are far much younger and will have WAY more milage.

        Regardless i get its a gamble either way but to say Jose isn’t sitting on the side of being in better shape in that 4,5, or 6th year is in fact a legit argument. It’s like people only wanna agree that he’s worth that money if you have guarantee but when is that ever the case? This situation is the best odds you’ll find for a very long time.

        • Vermin Wells

          If the choice was ‘pick a 35-year-old to make a $150M bet on’, Jose’s probably my guy. I’m with you that far. But in the past 70 years or so, about 5 guys have produced enough at age 36-40 to earn the contract we’re hearing about. Jose might turn into Ted Williams, I suppose, but at that price, he’ll likely do it in Boston.