How Much Money Did Jose Bautista Leave on the Table?

It’s becoming more evident each game that goes by that the Toronto Blue Jays owe Alex Anthopoulos and all of his evaluators a huge thank you for locking up what has turned out to be a top-5 player in all of MLB, at a discount no less.

He’s leading the league in HRs once again thus far into 2011, and is not only showing his power this season, as he has also added a much better average, OBP, and speed to his game. At 30 years old, such a performance begs the question: just exactly how much money did Jose Bautista and his agent, Bean Stringfellow, leave on the table?

I wondered around MLB looking for comparable contracts in recent years. It’s tough to come up with an exact match since no single player has ever burst onto the scene in a manner comparable to Bautista, not to mention at his age. But, I did come up with one comparable in Mark Texeira’s 2009 contract with the Yankees. I thought of using Adrian Beltre’s 5-year $80 million deal with the Rangers, but I personally feel that Bautista’s offensive output can be projected to be much higher as they both get older. So, I went with Mark Teixeira, who I believe we can all agree is one of the best players in MLB at this point.

Before signing his contract in 2009, Mark Teixiera had the following stats:

574 AB / 177 hits / 41 doubles / 33 HRs / 121 RBI / 2 SB / 97 BB / 93 SO / .308 AVG / .410 OBP / .552 SLG / 4.0 WAR

Before signing his contract, Jose Bautista had the following stats:

569 AB / 148 hits / 35 doubles / 3 triples / 54 HR / 124 RBI / 9 SB / 100 BB / 116 SO / .260 AVG / .378 OBP / .617 SLG / 5.7 WAR

The 2 sets of stats are fairly comparable, with the note that Bautista’s boost over Teixeira would lie in the Slugging % and speed, while Teixeira’s boost over Bautista lies in the higher AVG and OBP.

Just for fun, I’ve projected Jose Bautista’s stats in 2011 to match his AB numbers of 2010 which add up to the following:

569 AB / 207 hits / 38 doubles / 5 triples / 65 HRs / 114 RBI / 21 SB / 186 BB / 103 SO / .365 AVG / .525 OBP / .798 SLG

Those stats are crazy good. Let’s just say that he’s MORE than earning his contract thus far and could actually boost his stock quite a bit this season. To say that he could match Mark Teixeira‘s contract with that kind of performance then, in my opinion, is very realistic and could actually be lower than what he would have received the first and second year of the contract. I’m not saying he’ll land 8 years as Mark did because they’re at different points in their careers at the time of the signing, but the value overall for the length of time (5 years) should be very similar. Actually, a case could be made that Jose Bautista’s versatility in being able to man RF, 3B, and like most other players, 1B, boosts his value as well, but I’ll let that slide so that we can compare apples to apples.

In 2009, at 29 years of age, Mark Teixiera signed an 8-year $180,000 contract that is to see him get paid $20 million in 2009 and 2010, and $22.5 million from 2011 through 2016. He also got a full no trade clause, and the right to purchase the “8 of best available Yankees season tickets“.

Jose Bautista, having just turned 30, signed a 5-year $65 million contract that is to see him get $8 million in 2011, and $14 million from 2012 through 2015. The Jays have a $14 million option for the 2016 season with a $1 million buy out. There is no trade clause, and no “side agreement” in the contract.

So, why the big difference in size of deals? And why in the world would you sign such a deal if you’re Jose Bautista?

Well, for Jose we all know that the down side of his performance was his low average, and the fact that he had only done it once. Mark already had multiple seasons of 30 HRs or more and 100 RBIs or more all with nice lines to back them up with. The reasons Jose signed the deal, I assume, is because he is very happy in Toronto, wanted the long-term security, and was ready to settle in as the team’s undisputed leader. Who knows, with a contract distracting him it’s quite possible that his 2011 stats wouldn’t be as strong as they currently are! It’s possible.

Back to the contracts.

The difference between the 2 deals through 2016 – assuming Bautista’s option is picked up in 2016, which is no guarantee – will be $8.5 million per season for a total of $42.5 million!!!

Now, that figure assumes that Jose Bautista could go out on the free agent market and land a Mark Teixiera style $22.5 million contract for 2012-2016, which would add up to $112.5 million. Having seen what the Washington Nationals handed a player like Jayson Werth, you have to believe that SOMEONE out there would be willing to throw something close to that amount Jose Bautista’s way. The Red Sox had already asked for him in trade and JD Drew, as well as possibly David Ortiz, may not be in Boston for 2012,  so they would have been serious bidders for his services with cash in hand.

But, to give us a floor, let’s assume for one moment that sensible heads prevail (mostly due to his age), and that he tops out at $20 million per season for a total of $100 million, a nice crisp number to work with. That contract would likely come with a no trade clause, since Jose would now have another year of stats to back up his demands, and could also include a few other perks. Such a contract would still add $6 million per season to what he is currently expected to make with the Jays for a grand total of $30 million.

And what if the Nationals owner wanted to keep to his spending ways and surpassed the deal handed to Werth in terms of yearly value? Werth is set to make $21 million per season from 2015 through 2017. It’s quite possible that for someone of Bautista’s makeup, the Nationals would have spent up to $25 million per season for his services. Think about a lineup that would have Bryce Harper walking up to the plate with little pressure because Bautista is already in the lineup mashing and Werth and others are expected to produce. I’m sure that would have been enticing. At $25 million per season, Bautista would have netter $125 million over 5 years for a total of $55 million more than he is expected to make at this point if the Jays pick up their 2016 option through that same time period.

Therefore, it is my assertion that Jose Bautista, if he had not signed a long-term deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, could have landed somewhere in the neighborhood of a low of $30 million, more likely around $42.5 million, and at a high of $55 million more with a team, possibly even the Blue Jays if in the middle portion, after the 2011 season ended.

Those are my thoughts on Jose Bautista’s contract and how I believe Alex Anthopoulos once again proved to make the right decision while at the helm. His legacy is building with every deal, and this one is a bigger discount than any I have seen in recent years. Jays ownership must have absolute faith in him and his skills at this point, and if he comes up with a plan to land a big ticket free agent in the future, it seems to me that all of these great deals should add up to one giant YES coming out of the mouths of the owners as they sign the contract.

Jose Bautista may have left money on the table. What Jays fans want to know now is whether or not it will result in more money being spent to build a support cast around him. Because if they don’t reinvest the money at some point in the near future, I’m fairly certain Jays fans all over will let Anthopoulos and the Jays hear all about it!

(All figures used in this article were courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.)


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Tags: Adrian Beltre Jose Bautista Mark Teixeira

  • Mylegacy

    Mat, Bautista is worth the price of admission – win, lose or draw. If we can’t pack the stands with folks there to see this spectacular superman perform his magic – is there any hope for us?

    Clearly, Bautista left many millions on the table. However, I think he’s OK with what he has. The real question is – as you say – will the team put the talent on the field with Jose. Clearly, the team can afford it.

    With Lind back soon, Thames and or Snider up soon, Lawrie up soon – we may be seeing the end of Rivera, EE and JMac (he’ll still be on the team just not the everyday 3rd). When these guys get up and going will AA have to spend big bucks or will these young studs lead the way with Bautista and Escobar as the grizzled veterans leading them?

    Soon Gose or Marisnick will overwhelm the Davis / Patterson duo and this team will be looking seriously good.

    IF – money is to be spent – The best use might be a true ace…say…someone like Roy Halladay. Oh wait – we tried that already. Back to the future anyone?

  • grouchy

    your numbers are too low. you forget that as a free agent jose would have commanded a longer deal maybe 7-8 years. Meaning he probably left 100 mil on the table.

    I also think that watching hill, lind and vernon all struggle after having big years made him question if that might happen to him too.

  • Chris Thomas


    Let’s look at it this way. Yes, Batista has started off this year like one of the best players in the game. When he signed the deal, he had had only 1 GREAT year under his belt. What if he decided to not sign and play the year and go to free agency and got hurt or didn’t have the same type of year. Sure, he probably left some money on the table BUT, he and his family chose to sign for 65 million dollars, which will give them enough security for life!! Does it really matter when you are guarenteed 65 million dollars no matter what happens if you left money on the table. Even if he left 20 million on the table….is his life going to be any worse with only 65M instead of 85M. Come on, once you are in those numbers you don’t EVER have to worry about money again!!

  • Danny Brown

    You hit the nail on the head “Chris Thomas!!” When you are talking about 65M guarenteed dollars after ONLY one great year, you are set for life. He should have one more contract left to sign anyway….even if he doesn’t I am sure he can survive on 65 million dollars for the rest of his life.

    I doubt leaving money for the Jays to sign other players had anything to do with signing the contract. I hope the Jays do add the right players when we are close to winning but I am sure life security was the reason Batista signed the contract!! I won’t go on any further since Mr. Thomas said it like it is…..once you are talking about numbers over 60 million dollars, you will be living a very comfortable life forever!!

  • rickstar

    Good one.

    Yup, jose has been fantastic, and at this pace jose would have been a 23 million dollar a year player for 5 years with someone, easy.

  • Keith

    I think the true test will be how the team does this year and next. If they continue to keep fringe players, Bautista will request a trade as he wants to win.

    My disappointment has been starting pitching. I agree with Grouchy when he says that we may be best signing a true ace.

    I hope Morrow and Romero develop into the devastating 1-2 punch they have the potential to be. Hopefully Drabek gets control over his incredible stuff and if Litch/ Stewart or one of the other kids come up and take control of the #5 spot. there is the potential to be a top 5 rotation in baseball. But we have a ways to go. My fear is Bautista in a couple of seasons, seeing he has a few productive years left, requests to take his career to a winner (ala Halliday).

    Thus AA has to to start taking us to the next level he talks about so much. Playing Rivera and even Patterson everyday is not a winning long term formula. In addition, as much as I like Johnny Mac there is no way that he should be starting 29 of our first 39 games and have as many AB’s as he does.

    Mat as much as I like Jays Journal there are several moves that AA has made/ not made that are causing us to sit at the bottom of the division in a year when winning is very achievable:
    1 – Not DFA’ing Rivera
    2 – Signing EE when there were several better options available for DH
    3 – letting EE and Rivera work out their issues when some of our kids (Lawrie/ Snider) could be learning at the big league level

    The reason fans were coming back to the Jays was the promise of the future. Throwing these “has or never has” beens out there, while the kids learn little in AAA is the point that I’m having difficulty with.

    I hope that as with the Bautista deal, there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we will get to see some of the more major league ready kids this year.

    • Mat Germain

      I feel your frustration Keith and completely agree that if the rules were not as they are, in terms of Super 2s, the Jays would have no way of justifying keeping Lawrie and Thames in AAA. However, as it is, they not only ensure that these players are as prepared as possible to come to The Show, but they also gain a full year of control (as I’m sure you know) by keeping them in AAA. When you’re talking about an all-star caliber player in Lawrie, I can sympathize with the Jays.

      After all, if the Jays DO want to sign an ace or two, or want to retain them once they’re established, they need to have players like Brett Lawrie under contract as cheaply as possible….right? You don’t want to wind up having 2 young aces growing up in Tim Lincecum/Matt Cain fashion only to not have the cash to pay them in the end! Bringing Lawrie up as much as a month early can mean at least $10 million more going his way in salary the year he becomes a FA, and he’ll probably ask for a very long term deal as well.

      Trust me, keeping this kid in AAA for another month is the right move. It allows him to mature a little more, and it should help the Jays retain him for at least 1 more year. That extra year allows him the time to get over what could very well be Travis Snider style slumps, a real possibility. There’s no guarantee that Lawrie would come in and tear it up in the majors.

      I entirely agree with you that the Jays will need to try to land 1-2 aces at some point if they can’t grow their own studs. But still, I’d rather have the home grown kids come up. There’s just something to be said about having, say a Roy Halladay kind of pitcher come through the system and ace it up. You cheer for that guy harder than you would….say CC Sabathia if he came over to the Jays after he opts out of his deal. (just an example)

      As for your points Keith:
      1 – I am no Rivera fan and absolutely believe he should go, so I agree with you entirely.
      2 – EE WAS the best option out there. I like Vladdy, but he’s old and tired. EE is well liked in the clubhouse and has as much power as anyone else who was available on the market. This was the market’s fault, really, and you have to like the size of the contract which doesn’t hurt the Jays chances of signing a big gun in 2012.
      3 – Snider was mishandled by JP Ricciardi and Cito Gaston, so blame them for his struggles, not the current regime. As for Lawrie – see point made above!

      Love the comments as always Keith and I do hope that you land in the sunny side of that tunnel very soon! the Jays are now at .500, very close to the Wild Card spot, and are taking aim at 1st place. Worry not, we have a ton of great competitive ball to watch for the remainder of the season, and the Jays should be right there causing havoc for all other teams. What else can you ask for?

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