The Jays have yet to approach Jose Bautista about a multi-year deal

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The second most shocking thing about the Vernon Wells trade — after the Angels actually agreeing to it — was the fact that it left the Blue Jays with only $17.4 million in payroll commitments for 2012.  The conventional wisdom when that news started to spread was that all of that freed-up money would be used to lock up 50-homer-man Jose Bautista. If that’s the plan, it hasn’t been made operation yet, because as Jon Paul Morosi reports, the Jays haven’t even approached Bautista with an offer yet.

Not sure I would either. I’m prepared to admit that the changes in Bautista’s swing in 2010 led him to achieve a new level of homerly-goodness that he will sustain for some time, but I’m not sure I’d wager a multi-year deal on it.  If I was writing the checks in Toronto, I’d like to see another season of big power from the guy before grabbing the pen. Yes, that’s a gamble too inasmuch as Bautista will be a free agent after 2011 and could go anywhere, but who’s to say this isn’t 1961 Norm Cash or 1973 Davey Johnson we’re talking about?

It may cost the Jays the couple extra million they’re going to have to pay if they lose their arbitration case. It may cause Bautista to look for employment elsewhere in 2012 if he goes crazy again. But really, I’d be loathe to give the guy a multi-year deal after what could very easily be the best year he’ll ever have.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.