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.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.