While it was encouraging that the Jays were able to avoid arbitration with 7 players, their streak of avoiding an arbitration hearing with a player since 1997 has likely come to an end. This afternoon, the Jays could not see eye-to-eye with Jose Bautista and Jason Frasor on dollar amounts for the upcoming season.
Jose Bautista was the biggest question mark heading into the off-season, because he is a unique case with no precedent to compare to. If you haven’t already, I would highly recommend reading MLB Trade Rumors’ “Jose Bautista’s Arbitration Case” piece, which they initially posted back in October but have re-posted today. They break down in-depth both Bautista’s case and the Blue Jays’ case, on top of the possibility of signing him to a multi-year deal.
Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos faces a very tough call with Bautista, but Bautista is guaranteed to be with the Jays in 2011. The maximum salary Bautista could get, if an arbitrator rules in his favor, would be $10.5M, quite a raise from the $2.4M he made in 2010. The problem is if Bautista and the Jays go to an arbitration hearing, it’s a very ugly process that has representatives of the team (or “outside counsel”, not Anthopoulos in Bautista’s case) tell the arbitrator, in front of the player and their representation, why the player is not worth as much money as they are asking for. Needless to say, if Bautista’s case goes to an arbitration hearing, it wouldn’t exactly help matters in agreeing on a contract extension during the 2011 season.
GM Alex Anthopoulos has stated that since players and management have exchanged salary figures and failed to reach an agreement prior to this afternoon, then an arbitration hearing is the only option. Teams are allowed to negotiate with their players up until an arbitration hearing, but Anthopoulos has vehemently disapproved of that. Anthopoulos is open to discussing a multi-year deal in order to avoid an arbitration hearing though (just not a one-year deal), but he has said that that would be completely confidential.
Frasor did have a good season with the Jays, where he ranked as a Type-A free-agent and set a career-high for strikeouts in a season with 65 (9.2 K/9). He also managed a 3.31 FIP and a ground ball rate of 46.4%, his highest in five seasons.
I’m somewhat puzzled as to why the Jays and Jason Frasor weren’t able to come to an agreement, though, as Frasor and the Jays were only 475,000 apart on salary, according to MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm.
Frasor could perhaps be irked that Jays newcomers Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch were both guaranteed $3.5M and he was offered less by the Jays, even though he has been with the Jays for seven seasons. This could also be a ploy by Frasor’s camp to negotiate at least a 2-year deal (though unlikely), given the frustration Frasor felt this past offseason as a Type-A free-agent and being unable to secure a multi-year deal with any team.
Frasor will likely win if it goes to an arbitration hearing, and he could likely be with a different club come Opening Day as a result.