UPDATE, 8:46 PM: Now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that the extension carries a $13 million club option for a sixth season. So it appears that $65 million of the new contract will be guaranteed.
8:39 PM: Forget the minor ankle injuries. There might be real news out of Blue Jays camp tonight.
According to Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes, Toronto is nearing agreement on a five-year, $65 million contract extension with Jose Bautista.
Initial reaction? It’s a big amount of money and a risky commitment for a guy who entered the 2010 season with a .729 career OPS to his name. Bautista was a journeyman during the first several years of his career and the Jays have now decided to reward him handsomely after his first breakout campaign.
Bautista led the major leagues in home runs (54) last year and tallied a cool 124 RBI against a .995 OPS. All of those numbers were career highs, however, and his batting line in 2009 looked far different.
Maybe Bautista really discovered something when he revamped his approach at the plate last spring and maybe he’ll be able to sustain his 2010 level of production over the course of the new deal, but it does seem unlikely. The Jays probably would have been better off reaching a one-year agreement with him this winter and allowing the 2011 season to play out. Bautista, 30, was in his final year of arbitration eligibility.
Padres starter Jered Weaver lasted just two-thirds of an inning in Wednesday afternoon’s Cactus League appearance against the Royals. He yielded four runs on three hits, throwing 31 pitches before getting pulled. His spring ERA now sits at an ugly 10.13.
Weaver said he’s been dealing with a “dead arm” since his last bullpen session, but added he’s dealt with the issue in previous springs, Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The Padres signed Weaver to a one-year, $3 million contract last month. The right-hander is coming off of the worst season of his 11-year career. His fastball averaged a career-low 83 MPH and he put up a 5.06 ERA with a 103/51 K/BB ratio in 178 innings.
Earlier, Craig wrote about Dan Duquette’s dogwhistle language in his criticism of Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. We have some more dogwhistling, this time coming from Tigers (and Team U.S.) second baseman Ian Kinsler. Via Billy Witz of The New York Times:
I hope kids watching the W.B.C. can watch the way we play the game and appreciate the way we play the game as opposed to the way Puerto Rico plays or the Dominican plays. That’s not taking anything away from them. That just wasn’t the way we were raised. They were raised differently and to show emotion and passion when you play. We do show emotion; we do show passion. But we just do it in a different way.
The goal of the World Baseball Classic, created by Major League Baseball, is to promote baseball across the globe. It’s players like Puerto Rico’s Javier Baez who are doing the best job in that regard, not boring white guys from the U.S. Potential baseball fans are not swayed into liking the sport when a player hits a home run and solemnly puts his head down to stroll the bases. They get excited and energized when players show emotion, flip their bats, celebrate. Baez did more to make baseball appeal to new and lapsed audiences with his premature celebration tag than the entire U.S. team has done this tournament.
Furthermore, it is hypocritical to want to diversify the sport’s audience while squelching incoming cultures.
Jim Leyland also got in on the action:
Go Puerto Rico.