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Well, it turns out the Blue Jays 13 year streak of avoiding salary arbitration may not be in jeopardy after all.
In light of some new developments, Alex Anthopoulos announced the team has postponed their salary arbitration with Jose Bautista. That can only mean one thing; they are definitely working on signing Bautista to a multi-year deal.
It’s a bit surprising because like many others, I expected the hearing would go down as planned. Then all of a sudden, there was word it had been postponed and that’s when the floodgates opened.
Since the Silent Assassin is so tight-lipped about contract negotiations, we won’t hear a peep about it until the ink dries on the new contract. The particulars of a contract extension are a little fuzzy, but I’m here to say that it’s definitely a positive thing the Blue Jays are moving towards locking up Jose Bautista.
Worst case scenario is the Blue Jays sign Bautista to a multi-year deal and he ends up being a complete bust. That’s why there are such things as club options and buyouts; so teams have an exit strategy just in case players turn out to be a huge flop.
Rest assured though, Alex Anthopoulos will not make the same mistake as previous regimes and be hand-cuffed by an outrageous deal. He’s a very crafty cat and will find some way to make sure the team won’t be on the hook for another Vernon Wells version 2.0 contract.
Even if Jose Bautista doesn’t return to his preeminent self, it doesn’t mean the Blue Jays will have to shell out money for the entire contract either. If AA7 can get the Vernon Wells contract off the books, he can get any contract off the books.
There are negative side effects of signing a player to a big contract, but there are also a lot of positives. For example, signing Jose Bautista now could end up working in favour of the Blue Jays if he continues to perform well above market value.
As talented as some of the Blue Jays prospects are, at this point they’re still prospects. Guys like Anthony Gose, Brett Lawrie, Jake Marisnick and Adeiny Hechavarria still have a long way to go to make it to the show.
There are no guarantees they will become the stars we are hoping they will be. Proof of that was very evident when the Jays traded Brett Wallace. He was not the player they thought he was, and so they had to abandon ship and find another solution.
So in that sense, it makes perfect sense to ink Jose Bautista to a long-term deal because he has quantifiable major league experience and talent. We know he can play with the big boys, and he should be paid as such.
It’s also in the best interest of Jose Bautista to sign a contract now because if he completely flops in 2011, then he could have an extremely tough time commanding a multi-year deal as a free agent.
If I’m Jose Bautista, I’d much rather take the security of a long-term contract than risk testing the free agent waters. It will likely mean taking a little less money now, but that’s the price you pay when you commit to a long-term contract.
Even if Bautista inks a deal with the Blue Jays before his rescheduled arbitration hearing, remember that it doesn’t mean he’s untouchable. Another solid year on his part could make him an extremely valuable trade commodity, especially if his base salary is reasonable.
However, I don’t think that’s something Alex Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays are looking at doing right away; signing Jose Bautista to a multi-year contract, building up his value, and then trading him.
Although it’s paramount for an assassin to be cold and calculated, that’s just not the way the Blue Jays are doing business these days. If Bautista signs long-term, I’m certain he’ll be sticking around for the long haul.
Like I alluded to earlier, there are no guarantees with prospects and the very same bodes for major league players. No one knows for certain what Jose Bautista is capable of in 2011 and beyond. He could hit 50 home runs, or he could hit 5. Nonetheless, that’s a risk I’d be willing to take.
Just pay the man, Alex.