Thursday, October 14, 2010

How Many Benjamins Will Bautista Get?


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It's the question that's on everyone's mind as we enter the off-season: exactly how much coin is Jose Bautista going to fetch at salary arbitration?

MLB Trade Rumors had a fantastic piece yesterday breaking down what could happen if things do in fact go that far. I've been curious to see how much Jose Bautista might fetch in arbitration, and here is the best estimation of what might happen:
"Bautista’s ‘true value’ in arbitration (not to be confused with what he’d earn as a free agent) is below $10MM and likely sits around $8-9MM, Michael Vlessides said."
As this post from MLBTR indicates, it's very difficult trying to find a previous salary arbitration to use as a yardstick for Jose Bautista's unique situation, coming off a record-setting season yet struggling to find playing time his previous four seasons of service time.

This is just my meager estimation, but I believe that $8-9 million valuation to be a little high and thought it might be somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5-6 million.

Bautista's 2010 campaign was unprecedented, and that's primarily why I think he'll have a tough time commanding almost four times the salary he earned this year.

However, the Blue Jays have a great track record with not letting cases go to arbitration in the first place, so maybe this is all a moot point. If that's the case though, then what kind of deal should the Jays offer Jose Bautista?

Previous regimes would undoubtedly attempt to lock up Bautista long term to a fat contract, but I think Alex Anthopoulos is wise to the ways of the career year and understands what kind of value Jose Bautista brings to this team moving forward.

Before AA decides what kind of contract to offer up to Jose Bautista, he first must decide whether Jose is part of "the plan" or not. If so, then a three-plus year deal worth tens of millions of dollars is almost certainly on the horizon.

And if not, then maybe we'll see a two-year incentive laden contract with a couple of club options. My instincts tell me that's the path the Blue Jays will go down with Jose Bautista.

Regardless of how much money Bautista will be awarded in salary arbitration if things progress in that direction, Jose Bautista is almost certainly guaranteed to be a Blue Jay in 2011. The million dollar question is ... for how much?

6 comments:

  1. Options, Options, Options. Tony LaCava and Alex Anthopoulos have a history of deals with multiple club options (Hill, Gregg, even Romero's deal has an option)

    I really see them pursuing that path. I would expect 2 years/18 Million Guaranteed, and then a series of options. They could even have the club options become mutual/player options based on performance.

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  2. 5th Starter, that's what I'm thinking as well. A few club options for good measure just in case Bautista does put up great numbers once again next year.

    He deserves the raise and I hope the Blue Jays give him a 2-year deal at least.

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  3. I have no idea what will happen, but would think that AA would go short, maybe 2-3 years. The debacles that were BJ Ryan and AJ Burnett are still fresh in everybodys mind. Though Jose's first name does not contain initials, so he may be fine...

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  4. Jeremy, good point - no more 5+ year deals to guys who are almost on the other side of 30 years old.

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  5. The thing about arbitration is that (IIRC) players normally win more often than teams, and the arbitrator HAS to pick one side or the other. He can't split the difference.

    Therefore, I think Bautista would definitely get at least $8 million or $9 million. I imagine he will submit a number at or close to $10 million, with the Jays around that figure. If they try to go to $6 million, then they'll probably lose easily. He doesn't really have much of a track record, but those homers are a tremendous value that can't be overlooked.

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  6. Steve, good point - if the Jays lowball at arbitration, they'll get rejected right away. Plus, it also looks bad on the club if they only offer a low number.

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