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.