The news broke last night that the Blue Jays had reached agreement on a five-year, $65M contract with Jose Bautista. Although, it hasn’t been formally announced yet, given that multiple sources are reporting this, it’s likely a done deal. It is expected to be announced sometime today (Thursday).
I’m not sure what to think about this deal. It’s risky that is for sure. I was hoping the Blue Jays would aim for a 3 to 4 year deal for about $10 to $12M per year but five years. The $13M per year is on the higher end of the spectrum but it’s not Jason Werth money thank goodness. It’s in the neighbourhood of Dan Uggla’s deal with the Braves and that appeared to be the benchmark that both sides were working from. Uggla, of course, has a larger body of work to judge his value from than Mr. Bautista but is definitely not paid for his glove. Jose Bautista is a fine defender with a plus arm who can play several positions well.
As I mentioned in a previous post, if Bautista hits near the mid-point between his previous career high of 16 homeruns or his 2010 total of 54 homeruns (about 35HRs) and drive in 100+ RBI’s a year, this deal will turn out to be a relative bargain for the Blue Jays. He’s not getting Vernon Wells money and he is certainly nowhere close to getting Jason Werth money ($126M over seven years).
It’s a risky deal but it’s not going to break the bank for the Blue Jays. Not only did Bautista have a break out year in 2010, he emerged as a clubhouse and on-field leader and was superb defensively. I personally think he’s better in right field than third base but given the Jays’ depth in the outfield, and lack thereof at third until Mr. Lawrie is ready for the show, he is best positioned to help the team in 2011 at third.
My biggest fear is that Jose tries too hard to live up to the contract and pushes too hard and ends up struggling at the dish. That will bring out all of the negative Nancys and boo-birds at the Rogers Centre and stir up more talk about PEDs. The PED talk is nonsense if you ask me. One, he’s not a big guy and his appearance didn’t change from one year to the next. Second, if he was able to use PEDs last season and not get caught, then why would he not continue to do so in 2011 and put up the same numbers?
Regardless it will be an interesting 2011. The Jays’ lineup has the potential to be a very potent one if Adam Lind and Aaron Hill bounce back from a rough 2010, Bautista produces and Travis Snider is able to have a breakout season. J.P. Arencibia will be interesting to watch. He has the potential to put up numbers in the neighbourhood of John Buck’s last year but as a rookie, he may also struggle while he faces major league pitching and tries to manage a young pitching staff.
Well Mr. Anthopolous has made a deal for Oakland’s Rajai Davis. This deal didn’t make me jump for joy but I think it was another good pick-up for the Blue Jays.
I’m not quite sure the exact impact Davis will have on the team as it’s not clear what Davis’ role will be. Will he be an everyday outfielder with Wells and Snider and bat lead-off? Or will he be the team’s fourth outfielder ala DeWayne Wise? Either way this is a positive addition for the Blue Jays because of Davis’ speed.
The 2010 Blue Jays lacked speed, that was clearly evident. Fred Lewis provided some speed and guys like Bautista, Wells, Hill and Snider aren’t slow on the basepaths but there was no player who would, when on base, really provide a clear base-stealing threat. Davis will provide that.
If Davis is a starting outfielder on opening day, then Jose Bautista could become the team’s everyday third baseman. Not terrible as Bautista plays a decent hot corner. However, you lose Bautista’s arm in right.
If Davis is the fourth outfielder then there is still a hole a third base that will need to be filled.
Speculating at this point as to who will play third, or first next season is really fruitless as the offseason has just begun and AA has not finished making moves for 2011 so I will not elaborate any further.
We do know one thing and that is John Buck is no longer a Blue Jay. I liked Buck behind the plate last year and he did hit 20 homeruns but am glad the Jays did not re-sign him. The Marlins signed Buck to a reported 3-year, $18 million contract which is extremely high in my opinion. As was the case with Marco Scutaro last off season, it was best to let Buck go as there is little chance the Jays would get full value for the salary they would have to pay to retain him. The Jays have Jose Molina under contract for 2011 and it is hoped J.P. Arencibia can step into the starting catcher’s role.
I must say, I was a little frustrated in September when Cito kept inserting Buck into the line-up everyday so that he could reach 20 homeruns when Arencibia was left to rot on the bench. It did nothing for Arencibia’s development and left a bigger question mark as to whether Arencibia is ready for a starting catcher’s role at the big league level. Now Alex Anthopolous has to decide whether to hand the reigns over to Arencibia or go out and sign a guy like Miguel Olivo to platoon with Molina behind the plate.