Regardless of what happens during Grapefruit League action, the biggest story surrounding the Toronto Blue Jays continues to be Jose Bautista‘s contract situation.
Bautista has made it clear that he’s put his number on the table and isn’t taking a hometown discount.
It’s less clear what the Blue Jays are prepared to offer. On Sunday, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported in his Notes column that the team “might be amenable to a Yoenis Cespedes-type deal” for Bautista.
In January, the Mets signed Cespedes to a three-year contract worth $75 million with an opt-out after the first season. The structure has become increasingly popular this off-season as more and more players have sought to maximize their number of shots at free agency.
While Cespedes and Bautista are both right-handed outfielders with prolific power, the comparison doesn't seem to hold up as the latter has been a far more consistent offensive threat. Over the last three seasons, Bautista has 20 more home runs and 178 more walks leading to a vastly superior On-Base Percentage.
The other issue with the comparison is that the Cespedes structure wouldn't seem to benefit Bautista. The former wanted an opt-out clause because at the age of 30 he is still young enough to cash in next off-season.
At 35, every advancing year hurts Bautista's value on the open market. Even a highly productive season would be very unlikely to increase his earning power, severely reducing the value of an opt-out.
Furthermore, Bautista has reportedly asked for five years or more, so a three-year offer would be unlikely to hold much appeal for him.
It's not surprising that the Blue Jays would be open to this kind of contract; they would be foolish not to be, given the modest commitment. But while they may be open to presenting that kind of deal to Bautista, it's hard to imagine it being accepted.