DUNEDIN, Fla. – Toronto Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro described the intense focus on Jose Bautista’s contract situation in recent days as a “part of the landscape, part of spring training.”
“Every spring training there are contractual situations that come up,” he told media Thursday, his first public comments since the star outfielder triggered a firestorm by revealing that he’s told the team what it would take for him to re-sign, and won’t negotiate off that.
“You manage them as effectively as possible, always maintaining the focus on what we’re out here to do as a team, and to win a championship,” Shapiro continued. “When it gets down to it, we will deal respectfully and privately with the business matters we have to deal with but we will maintain our focus on our team winning a championship.”
Bautista’s comments stirred up incessant speculation on what his terms are and debate over whether the Blue Jays should meet the price. Given that the slugging right-fielder said, “there’s no negotiation, I told them what I wanted, they either meet it or it is what it is,” some view his demands as an ultimatum.
Asked if that’s how he perceived them, Shapiro echoed GM Ross Atkins’ message of no comment.
“For me, respecting the process and the player means you don’t comment on any of those things publicly,” he said. “Those comments have to be to (Bautista) directly. So anything I feel, anything I think would be to either Jose or his representative.”
Such situations aren’t new for Shapiro, who parted with several elite players during his time in Cleveland, dealing with “some very tough (negotiations), very emotional ones, ones with a lot of fan emotion tied in.”
“Certainly players that were representative of years and years of high level, Hall of Fame calibre performances,” said Shapiro. “I have dealt with that in Jim Thome and Omar Vizquel. They’re never easy because of how much you care about the players and how much the fans care about the player and how much the player cares about where he is. In the end, if you deal respectfully and professionally the outcomes can still be good.”