Blue Jays, Jose Bautista to enter negotiations this spring
The Toronto Blue Jays and star right-fielder Jose Bautista are reportedly set to enter negotiations on an extension once the club reaches spring training
On Thursday, Blue Jays star Jose Bautista told the Canadian Press that “it would be an honour” if he had the opportunity to finish his career in Toronto with a contract extension beyond 2016.
While those words sparked a buzz, it’s something you hear from prominent athletes nearing the end of their deals each and every year. Essentially, it’s the right answer to give.
A Friday report from Jayson Stark of ESPN, however, takes the possibility deeper with sources telling him that Bautista and the Blue Jays front office plan to meet later this month at spring training to discuss a new deal.
Stark’s sources tell him that Bautista’s agent Jay Alou and the organization will begin those negotiations, and that similar talks are planned with Edwin Encarnacion and his representatives.
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“Fans-wise, city-wise, having the country behind us and every other aspect of being a Toronto Blue Jay player is something that I love,” Bautista told the Canadian Press. “Now, hopefully, that matches up with the new front office desire to win now, kind of like myself.”
In 2015, the 34-year-old (until October 19th) Bautista posted one of his finer offensive seasons as a pro. He offset an abnormally low batting average of .250 (which can be blamed on a .237 BABIP) with 40 home runs, 114 RBI and an on-base percentage of .377.
“And the more we’ve learned about them, that has only increased our interest in keeping them here,” general manager Ross Atkins said. “The challenge lies in placing a value on that and then agreeing on a contract.”
Given Bautista’s age, any coming contract negotiations could become rather complex as both sides look for past market parallels and explore other factors such as option years at the back end of a potential deal.
All signs point towards an honest effort in negotiations, however, which at this point in the process, is all that can be hoped for.