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.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.