Now that spring training is pretty much back in full swing, we finally get to hear what players are thinking again. Between the hundreds of interviews that take place during February and March, the mic'ed up players, and those that share their thoughts in the Twittersphere, there's a lot to take in during spring training; and yesterday, Jose Bautista decided to spice things up.
It's no secret that he'll be a free agent at the end of the 2016 season, and while he appears to want to stay in Toronto, he's taken a bold stance on negotiations with the club; in that there will be no negotiations with the club.
Bautista: "There's no negotiation. I told them what I wanted. They either meet it or it is what it is." #BlueJays #MLB #SpringTraining— Scott MacArthur (@ScottyMacThinks) February 22, 2016
That's generally a bad way to go about asking a team for millions of dollars, and it also gives the Blue Jays an incredibly easy out if they don't want to pony up the cash to keep Bautista. They can simply come back to the fans and say, "hey look, we tried, but he was unwilling to negotiate, and his asking price was too high."
Of course when this news broke, nobody in the media knew exactly how much Bautista was asking for; but after a report from Rick Westhead of TSN, the figures are apparently out in the open.
"Toronto Blue Jays' all-star outfielder Jose Bautista is demanding a five-year contact extension worth more than $30 million per year, two sources familiar with the matter told TSN.
Bautista turns 36 in October and a $150-million contract, were he able to secure it, would make him among baseball's top-paid players."
Obviously we don't know who leaked this information, but it's fair to wonder, and perhaps even to assume that it was someone in Toronto's front office. They know how badly the fans want Bautista to stay, and while they'd likely want him back too, at his asking price, there's no way an extension is going to happen. Leaking this information would make a lot of sense from the front office's view point, because now everyone know's the exact dollar figures that are in play, and the vast majority of fans will understand that his demands are too high.
As our own Michael Bradburn pointed out earlier this morning, the Blue Jays received fantastic surplus value from Bautista's current contract, and while that might have contributed to his demands, it's nearly impossible to imagine any team would be willing to sign him to a five-year deal worth $150 million.
Of course, Bautista himself is refuting the report on his asking price.
Jose Bautista on report he asked for $150m over five years: "False." #BlueJays— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) February 23, 2016
At the end of the day, none of this looks good for the Blue Jays, or Bautista. Both parties are seemingly trying to go about the process of an extension through the media. Bautista wants people to know he's ready to re-up with Toronto, while the Blue Jays' executives want the fans to know that he's simply asking for too much money.
This process has now turned into a public chess match, with both sides using reporters as pawns in their weird game. Some team will eventually pay Bautista a significant amount of money, but $150 million is out of the question. He'll be heading into his age 36 season in 2017, and a five-year commitment is likely a tough sell on its own. At this point, it's unclear as to exactly what Bautista is asking for, but at the very least, he should be willing to negotiate.