Now here’s a really interesting case.
Of course, Jose Bautista shocked the baseball world last season by leading the majors with 54 home runs to go along with a solid .260/.378/.617 batting line, 124 RBI and a .995 OPS. Such a breakthrough season can be particularly tricky come arbitration time, so it’s no shock that the two sides were unable to come to an agreement before today’s deadline.
Bautista, who earned $2.4 million last season, filed for $10.5 million in arbitration today. The Blue Jays countered with $7.6 million.
So, what are the chances they avoid a hearing? According to what Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com, the club is only willing to negotiate a multi-year deal.
“Our policy is … if we don’t have deals done by the 1 p.m. deadline, we would not negotiate a one-year deal,” Anthopoulos said Tuesday. “As a general policy, if multiyear deals were to ever come about, we certainly could continue to negotiate those. But those are obviously things that we keep private, keep quiet and keep in house.”
We don’t know how much confidence the Blue Jays have in Bautista to replicate his success from last season, but they have already guaranteed him a salary approaching $8 million. That’s not unreasonable. However, there’s a risk if they let this go to a hearing. Not just because of how uncomfortable they can be for both sides, but also because if Bautista comes close to matching his production from last season, he’ll be poised to cash in as a free agent next winter. Should be interesting to see how this plays out.
Outfielder Michael Bourn was traded by the Diamondbacks to the Orioles late last season and hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with them through the end of the season. While that’s not enough to outweigh the miserable season he had in Arizona, it was enough to get the O’s to give him a look in spring training with a minor league deal. They signed him to one in late February.
Then, a couple of days later, Bourn broke his finger while playing catch with a football. Unable to play, the O’s cut him. In early April, once Bourn healed, the O’s signed him again. He played 11 games for their Triple-A affiliate and went 9-for-41 with ten walks in 51 plate appearances. While that makes for a decent OBP, his lack of any sort of pop or good contact suggests that if someone throws him strikes, he can’t do much with the ball.
As such, the O’s had not called him up to Baltimore. And as a result of that, Bourn exercised his opt-out rights and became a free agent.
Someone may take a look at him given that his batting eye seems to be intact and given that, in an admittedly small sample size, he still performed last season. But if he does get a look, it’ll likely be back at the minor league level.
The new Collective Bargaining Agreement commits the players and the league to regular season games on foreign soil. Most of the focus of this has been on games in London, for which there has been a lot of activity and discussion.
Yesterday before the Astros-Tigers game in Houston, however, Commissioner Rob Manfred talked about playing games in Mexico. And not as just a one-off, but as a foot-in-the-water towards possible expansion:
Commissioner Rob Manfred said Tuesday that the time had come to play regular-season games in Mexico City as Major League Baseball weighs international expansion.
“We think it’s time to move past exhibition games and play real live ‘they-count’ games in Mexico,” Manfred said. “That is the kind of experiment that puts you in better position to make a judgement as to whether you have a market that could sustain an 81-game season and a Major League team.”
A team in Mexico could make some geographic sense and some marketing sense, though it’s not clear if there is a city that would be appropriate for that right now. Mexico City is huge but it has plenty of its own sports teams and is far away from the parts of the country where baseball is popular (mostly the border states and areas along the Pacific coast). At 7,382 feet, its elevation would make games at Coors Field look like the Deadball Era.
Monterrey has been talked about — games have been played there and it’s certainly closer — but it’s somewhat unknown territory demographically speaking. It’s not as big as Mexico City, obviously. Income stratification is greater there and most of the rest of Mexico than it is in the United States too, making projections of how much discretionary income people may spend on an expensive entertainment product like Major League Baseball uncertain. Especially when they have other sports they’ve been following for decades.
Interesting, though. It’s something Manfred has talked about many times over the years, so unlike so many other things he says he’s “considering” or “hasn’t ruled out,” Major League Baseball in Mexico is something worth keeping our eyes on.