Bautista’s Contract Details Emerge, and Past Year One It Gets Rather Interesting

José Bautista
Photo Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The details of José Bautista’s contract have emerged, and they’re quite a bit more interesting than the chatter we’d heard about there being a couple mutual options that wouldn’t likely be exercised. A one-year deal still seems the far more likely scenario, but there could very much be incentive for both sides to exercise the mutual option next winter.

Jon Heyman has the breakdown for us:

Are the attendance bonuses in there because Edwin got them, too? Whatever the explanation, that Bautista can say that he got a deal worth damn near as much as Edwin is actually pretty big win for him. And it’s not completely inconceivable that he gets to the end of this one, either.

It’s just… y’know… mostly inconceivable.

However, if José gets to next winter having had a very productive and very healthy season, the Jays might absolutely see a two-year, $38 million deal, which becomes a one-year $18 million deal if he’s not healthy, as a nifty bet to make. Bautista, at that point having just turned 37, will have to decide if there’s enough money out there for him to turn down that money and hit free agency.

In this scenario, José is coming off a productive and healthy season, so it’s very possible more guaranteed money will be there for him. Teams aren’t exactly rushing to give 37-year-olds multi-year deals, and the ones that might be most interested in doing so may not be the ones Bautista wants to play for.

If the games played threshold wasn’t quite so high it might even be a no-brainer at that point. But Bautista has only played 300 games total in back-to-back seasons twice in his career — in 2011-12 and 2014-15. It would be a hard bet to make on his health — even a maniacal health nut like José knows that a freak injury could happen and land him on the DL. (And, of course, if they did go down that road, it opens the door for some delightful fireworks if, say, the Jays were to do some manipulating of the lineup to keep the option from vesting — Frank Thomas-style.)

Still, if you’re José and you think the market is only going to give you a one-year deal anyway, exercising your end of this deal wouldn’t be crazy at all. Even if you don’t make the games played threshold, it’s still $18 million and a trip back into free agency as a 38-year old. Carlos Beltrán did real well for himself going two years with the Cardinals heading into his age 35 season, getting a three-year deal for ages 37 to 39, and landing a one-year deal for 2017 at age 40. All told, Beltrán has made $87 million so far from age 35 onward.

There’s still time, in other words, for José to recoup some of what he’s lost in his career to bad timing. It might still even be possible that he does so on the Jays’ dime in 2018 and 2019.