Yesterday afternoon, Jose Bautista's contract extension talks became very public. He announced that he had submitted his demands to Toronto's front office, and stated that there would be no negotiations. "They either meet it or it is what it is."
His declaration was quickly followed up by a report from Rick Westhead of TSN that Bautista was asking for a five-year contract worth more than $30 million per year; which would equate to a total dollar commitment of more than $150 million. The immediate reaction was one of shock. Bautista will be entering his age 36-season in 2017, and while he's hit the most home runs in MLB over the last six-years (227), his decline phase will likely be upon him soon.
As the baseball world continued to boggle at Bautista's reported asking price, he offered up a simple denial of Westhead's report.
Jose Bautista on report he asked for $150m over five years: "False." #BlueJays— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) February 23, 2016
While he seemingly put to rest the idea that he'd asked for 5-years at $150 million, his response was still cryptic in nature. Nearly everyone took his answer to mean that his demands were lower than what was reported, but that doesn't appear to be the case. According to Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal, Bautista has his sights set considerably higher.
Bautista reported ask of $150M, 5 yrs is indeed not exactly accurate, as Joey Bats said. At least years and total $ r MORE.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) February 24, 2016
Hearing same as @jonheyman: Bautista asked #BlueJays for more than 5 yrs and more than $150M. But average annual value was below $30M per.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 24, 2016
If these reports are true, then it's fairly easy to figure out a range of what Bautista could be asking for. If he's asking for six-years, then the lowest amount of money would be roughly $151 million. The high end however could be $208 million. It's a ridiculous amount of money, and would blow away the record contract for someone at Bautista's age.
In 2002, Barry Bonds signed a five-year deal with the Giants for $90 million; and he was heading into his age 37-season (although he was 36 at the time of the agreement). Adjusted for inflation, and in 2015 that contract would have been worth just over $120 million. That means that at the very least, Bautista is asking for Bonds money, plus an extra $31 million. At most, he'd be asking for Bonds money, plus another $88 million.
While there's nothing wrong with trying to get that much, there seems to be a real disconnect in that Bautista thinks he can get it. Starting high and negotiating down to a more agreeable price is a perfectly reasonable business strategy, but the problem here is that if we're to take Bautista's words at face value, then there will be "no negotiation."
Of course that could be all a part of his master plan in getting the Blue Jays to offer more money than they're comfortable with. We won't know until this process has played out, but with all the information we have currently, it would appear that Bautista is simply being unrealistic. He has little leverage at the moment, as the other 29 organizations are barred from offering him a contract now; and if he's asking for as much money as we think he is, it's nearly impossible to imagine any team meeting his demands.