Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bautista up on the Trading Block?

By
Image courtesy of Getty Images
It's hard to believe there are only nine days until the MLB Trade Deadline, and with each passing minute I'm getting increasingly paranoid about what's going to happen to Jose Bautista.

With trade talks heating up and interested teams circling Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays, one has to wonder if he will in fact be dealt or if he's going to stay with the club.

Yesterday, trade rumours really caught wind thanks in part to a bevy of posts surrounding Jose Bautista on MLB Trade Rumors. Much of it had to do surrounding Buster Olney's video blog below:



Perhaps the thing that stands out the most is the claim that rival executives speculate that Jose Bautista could hit more than $10 million dollars if he goes to arbitration in the off-season.

Even if Bautista clears 40 home runs, I think it will be difficult to justify spending more than $10 million dollars on him. Just as a quick comparison, in 2008 Ryan Howard was awarded $10 million in arbitration after he just won the NL MVP award and the NL Rookie of the Year award the year prior.

I realize these circumstances are about as different as apples and oranges, but you get the idea. Jose Bautista hasn't consistently had the offensive numbers to justify that price tag in salary arbitration.

I asked the trade guru himself Tim from MLB Trade Rumors what he thinks Jose Bautista might fetch if the Blue Jays go to salary arbitration, and what the Jays should do as an alternative to avoid arb altogether:
"I asked a team exec about this and he said $6-8 million, no way $10-12 mil. For the most part Bautista is still going to be compared to guys in the same service time class.

I think the Jays should make a team-friendly extension offer, something guaranteeing maybe two years with a club option"
This is just my gut feeling, but I don't think Jose Bautista is going anywhere. Although Alex Anthopolous is usually pretty good at keeping any trade speculation close to his chest, when AA was asked by Jeff Blair last week if Bautista fits into the long term plans of this team, he answered "yes".

Again, this is just my suspicion ... but if the Blue Jays hang onto Jose Bautista past the trade deadline, I don't think it's even going to get close to arbitration. As Tim indicated, hopefully they will offer him a 2-3 year extension.

I hate to use the "hometown discount" cliche, but how else could the Jays convince him to re-sign for the exact same salary two years in a row and avoiding arbitration, when he would almost certainly be awarded more that $2.4 million?

Personally, I think it's in the best interest of the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista to hammer out some sort of contract extension in the off-season and forget arbitration court altogether. Besides, nobody enjoys going there and unless it's Judge Judy behind the bench, there isn't any sort of comic relief.

The Blue Jays have every right to have a high asking price for Jose Bautista, and maybe that's all part of the strategy. It could very well be that Alex Anthopoulous doesn't have any intention of dealing Bautista anyway.

Playing the part of the savvy businessman, AA doesn't want to deem Jose as "untouchable" just in case another team gets desperate for a big bat close to the trade deadline and suddenly offers up those top level prospects the Blue Jays are looking for.

So opposing teams, feel free to show all the interest you want in Jose Bautista because you're either barking up the wrong tree, or you're getting into a bidding war and driving up the price for him.

9 comments:

  1. good article, and i certainly hope the situation plays out as is, with jo-bau sticking around for another few years in the hot corner... i'm rather attached to the beard tbh

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  2. I think it would be a mistake not to trade him now while his value is high (assuming a reasonable offer is available).

    The White Sox are interested and it has been reported they are willing to part with Daniel Hudson and Dayan Viciedo for Dunn. I'd offer Batista for those two in a heartbeat.

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  3. effiejp, same here - how can you not love a player who can grow a full beard in less than 9 innings?

    Peter D, I certainly agree that Bautista is currently at his max value. It's almost a similar situation as Halladay at the trade deadline - both players have a year and a half left with their current team, so one would think AA could get the most for Bautista.

    But with the Halladay deal, the Jays held out and somehow ended up snagging the prospects they wanted ... so maybe it could be similar scenario with Bautista?

    I just think that he could prove far more valuable with the team over the next 2-3 years than trying to pry prospects away from other teams.

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  4. I think it is more important to get players that will be valuable to the team 3-6 years from now, than have a guy that will help them over the next few seasons.

    I just don't want to see another missed opportunity as a result of being short sited. Something AA has yet to do.

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  5. And that's exactly why I make the world's worst armchair General Manager - because I let my emotions cloud my judgment. Anthopoulos is a very smart guy, and I trust he'll do the right thing.

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  6. Since you wrote this entry, we've seen injuries to two of the top available outfielders in DeJesus and Hart. With those injuries, you have to think that Bautista's value has just skyrocketed.

    Yeah, he can play outfield and infield, but it seems as though a lot of teams are looking for help where this guy could fill in. (Tigers at 3B, Red Sox OF, Yankees OF, Twins 3B, White Sox 3B, Braves OF).

    As much as I love what Bautista's done, I'm leaning towards the sell high side of things. The Jays already have Wells locked up with that unmoveable contract, then there's Lind and Snider for the future, and Lewis to think about as well.

    I'll admit that I've never been a huge fan of Bautista due to that horrid batting average he has every year, so maybe I'm a bit biased in my opinion.

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  7. Ian, thanks for the comment. Unquestionably, Bautista is now an even hotter commodity - so maybe Alex Anthopoulos will actually receive what he was looking for. Now the Blue Jays don't have to lower their asking price for Bautista, and instead those teams who were looking to get Hart or DeJesus have to match the Jays.

    I still have a gut feeling that Bautista will stay, but we'll see what happens in the next week or so.

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  8. Even if the price is as high as $10 million, I might roll the dice with Jose for another year if there are no good trade offers this season. It looks like he will hit 30 to 45 home runs, which isn't exactly a common thing now.

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  9. Steve, I also think it's a good gamble to take. Even if his offensive numbers regress (which they almost certainly will), you can still depend on Bautista to play great defense - whether it's at third base or in the outfield.

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