Impending free agent Jose Bautista won’t give Blue Jays “hometown discount”

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Toronto slugger Jose Bautista will be a free agent after this season and the 35-year-old outfielder scoffed at the idea of giving the Blue Jays a hometown discount, telling Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com:

That doesn’t exist, not in my world. In my eyes, I’ve given this organization a five-year hometown discount already.

Bautista is referring to his current five-year, $65 million contract, which was signed after his breakout 2010 season. Back then there was still quite a bit of skepticism about whether Bautista would continue to be an elite power hitter after being a journeyman from 2004-2009.

There’s certainly no skepticism now–Bautista has posted a .945 OPS with an average of 38 homers per season since 2010 while making the All-Star team each year–but the Blue Jays may be worried about making another long-term commitment into his late 30s.

Bautista made it clear to Chisholm that he’s given the Blue Jays his demands for a new contract and is willing to test the open market as a free agent if they aren’t met, saying:

If this is going to happen, I think it should be natural, organic, quick and easy. It shouldn’t be pull and tug over a few dollars here and there. I didn’t want to waste their time or their effort, so they can start planning ahead, and if it’s not going to happen, they have plenty of time to [respond]. They asked me about two weeks ago, and I told them, that’s it. There’s no negotiation, I told them what I wanted. They either meet it, or it is what it is.

All of which is fine, but without knowing any specifics about Bautista’s demands there’s no way of knowing whether he’s being reasonable or not. In other words, those quotes about “quick and easy” negotiations don’t mean much if he asked for, say, $150 million.

Bautista has certainly out-performed his current contract in a huge way, providing the Blue Jays with far more value than they paid for, but it’s also worth noting that they made a $65 million upfront commitment to him at a time when he had exactly one productive full season under his belt. So it cuts both ways.

In general though, it seems as if the media and fan onus is always on players to give a “hometown discount” to teams, whereas no one ever insists teams give a “hometown markup” to players. Funny how that works.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
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HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”