Jose Bautista

Blue Jays finalize five-year, $65 million deal with Jose Bautista

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Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays made things official this afternoon, announcing his five-year contract extension worth $65 million.

The contract breaks down as follows:

2011 – $8 million
2012 – $14 million
2013 – $14 million
2014 – $14 million
2015 – $14 million
2016 – $14 million team option or $1 million buyout.

Bautista had asked for $10.5 million in his third and final season of arbitration eligibility while the Blue Jays countered at $7.6 million, so the extension basically pays him about $1 million below the midpoint for 2011 while buying out his first four seasons of free agency for $14 million per year.

Toronto also has a $14 million option or $1 million buyout for 2016, at which point Bautista will be 35 years old and the contract will either look like a bargain for a player who was able to sustain most of the production from his out-of-nowhere breakout or a huge overpay for a team that bet wrongly about his 2010 performance being for real.

I certainly wouldn’t bet on Bautista having another 50-homer, 1.000-OPS season in him, but the Blue Jays aren’t necessarily betting on that either.  After all, that type of production would be worth significantly more than $64 million for five seasons, as Fan Graphs pegged Bautista as being worth around $28 million in 2010 alone.

Instead, the Blue Jays are betting on him retaining most of that power as well as most of his improved plate discipline. If he turns back into a pumpkin it’ll be a regrettable contract, but even if Bautista settles in as a 30-homer, .850-OPS hitter going forward he’d be worth pretty close to what Toronto has committed to pay him through 2015. And for his career he’s averaged 25 homers and a .794 OPS per 600 plate appearances.

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.