Image courtesy of Getty ImagesIt'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.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".
I think the Jays should make a team-friendly extension offer, something guaranteeing maybe two years with a club option"
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.