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.

Josh Donaldson is still seeking a long-term deal with the Blue Jays

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If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.

“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.

Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.