Bautista’s situation has re-entered the spotlight following a conversation with Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated (which will be part of a longer feature on SI.com today and in print this week).
“I love the city,” Bautista told Verducci. “I’d be stupid to leave.”
You can almost hear the hushed squeals of joy. Of course, there was a “but”.
“I will explore every single option, whether it happens or not with the new regime, to continue to try to stay here,” he added. “That being said, I think teams utilize that a lot against players, [seeking] a discount or bargain price, and I think that’s extremely unfair, especially to have your biggest contributors on the field and try to take advantage of the fact that they like it there and negotiate a tougher deal.”
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The reports of Bautista’s contract demands have varied, peaking at a request of $150 million over five years that Bautista eventually denied. The issue of fairness here that Bautista is referring to hinges largely on the balance of past and future performance.
If Toronto were purchasing Bautista’s last five years of production on the open market in this business climate, sure, that price tag may become very reasonable. The organization will find difficulties forecasting that performance ahead, however, especially when Bautista would be entering his age-39 and 40 seasons.
Bautista is currently under the final year of a six-year, $78 million deal. Rightfully, he feels underpaid for his services these past few seasons as lesser players have far exceeded his annual earnings.
From Ross Atkins’ and Mark Shapiro’s seat at the table (not to mention Rogers ownership), it won’t be a negotiation of “what have you done for me lately?” Instead, it’s all about “what can you do for me now?”
And if any player is capable of defying Father Time and excelling to age 40, surely, it could be Bautista. He’s made it clear there will be no hometown discount, though. This has looked like a “next offseason” topic for some time now, and that doesn’t appear to be changing.