BP Toronto Reports Bautista Deal is Done, Pending a Physical (And So Does Everyone Else)

José Bautista
Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Aaaannnd here’s a “that last update is pointless” update:

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! contradicts the earlier reports about the $18 million guarantee being spread across the buyouts. To wit:

So… scratch all that stuff below about there possibly being a whole bunch more money for the Jays to play with and cross your fingers that the budget number is closer to the $165 million report (from TSN’s Rick Westhead, I believe), and not the $160 million we’ve heard elsewhere. 

(Because they really do still need another outfielder, plus that catcher and reliever.)

Update the second: Terms of the deal are beginning to surface, and what is being reported is that it is a deal that will guarantee Bautista $18 million, though that number includes buyouts on two “mutual option” years, meaning that his 2017 salary will be lower than that figure.

Here’s where it gets tricky: we’ve heard before that buyouts count on the books for the year they occur in, and since those are decisions made in November, if the Jays decline their end of the mutual option next fall, that should mean that the money then paid to Bautista would go on the books for 2017 — meaning that this doesn’t necessarily give them extra dough to play with.

But, as @SatiarShah points out, given how unlikely it is that mutual options on any deal will actually be exercised — i.e. if a player is good, he’ll opt out, and if he’s bad the team will opt out — it seems clear that this is, indeed, about clever accounting. In which case, the Jays may have enough to get a bullpen piece, a backup catcher, and the other outfielder that I very much think they need. 

Right now Cot’s has the Jays at $128.75 million (with the $1 million owed to Melvin Upton now showing correctly). Marcus Stroman’s salary will either be at $3.4 million or $3.1 million, depending on how his arbitration case goes, and about $5 million more will needed for pre-arb guys making close to the league minimum. That puts them at about $137 million before Bautista. Add the full $18 million and they’re at $155 million — which is either $5 million or $10 million from their limit, depending on which report we’ve heard this winter you want to believe. If Bautista is only on the books in 2017 for the same $14 million he made last year, with the rest tied up in the buyouts — and the buyouts structured so that he’s not paid in the 2017 fiscal year — that could give the club something like $15 million still to play with.
Even if they wanted to save a third or so of that money for the trade deadline in July, they can do quite a bit with that still. But if it’s lower than that? Well… then this is a team that looks a whole lot better than it did yesterday, but that will go into the season with some very easily identified, and not-too-expensively-fixed holes. Not great.
But, again, still kinda awesome. José is back!

Original Post…

Update the first: And now everybody else is reporting this, too.

The long national nightmare that followed our long national nightmare seems to be finally over!

Though I’m sure many will scoff and say they’re going to wait for Ken Rosenthal or Shi Davidi to break the news, the folks over at Baseball Prospectus Toronto have certainly shown themselves to be connected in the past, and they’re confident enough in what they’re hearing today to tell us this:

That’ll do!

And, as for the long wait — which this afternoon included Jon Heyman trying to cause panic, saying he was hearing there was still work to do, and mentioning the Rays and Cleveland as still being interested — BP Toronto’s Josh Howsam hits the nail on the head:

So there we mostly have it. We think. I think.

It should be very interesting to see the structure of the deal, but there are certainly ways for them to have made it mutually beneficial going forward for more than just the one year. As I wrote yesterday, the Red Sox and David Ortiz worked with short contracts through the end of his career. Maybe that’s a blueprint here.

We shall continue to wait and see…