The Blue Jays have bought themselves some extra time to work out a long-term contract extension with slugger Jose Bautista.
According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, both sides agreed Monday to postpone a scheduled arbitration hearing until Friday so that extension talks can continue.
The extra four days might not matter. Bautista tallied a league-leading 54 home runs last year along with a stellar .995 OPS and 124 RBI. With free agency looming after the 2011 season, he’ll be asking for big money. The Blue Jays, at least to this point, have not been willing to buck up.
If a multi-year contract can’t be worked out over these next four days, the two sides will have to agree on a salary for 2011 either through the postponed Friday hearing or through a simple one-year agreement.
Bautista, 30, requested a $10.5 million salary for 2011 and was offered $7.6 million from the Blue Jays when arbitration figures were exchanged in January. He’s expected to start at the hot corner for Toronto this year.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.
Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.
Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.
A third-inning two-run home run by Adam Rosales off of R.A. Dickey put the Padres up 2-0, but it also helped the Padres tie a National League record. The Padres have homered in 25 consecutive games, matching the 1998 Braves, the 1994 Tigers, and the 1941 Yankees. The major league record is 27, set by the 2002 Rangers.
The Padres hit three in total on Wednesday in an 8-4 victory against the Blue Jays. One of those dingers was an eighth-inning solo shot by rookie Alex Dickerson, who has now homered in four consecutive games himself. The one he hit on Monday is worth watching, as it got into the upper deck at the Rogers Centre.
As the Padres recently traded Melvin Upton, Jr. to the Jays, Dickerson is likely going to see regular playing time. That’s especially true if he keeps hitting like this.