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?