Bautista gives Blue Jays terms for extension
'There's no negotiation,' pending free agent says while addressing media for first time this spring
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jose Bautista has told the Blue Jays exactly what he wants in terms of dollars and years for a contract extension, and if Toronto isn't willing to ante up, then he is prepared to move on at the end of the season.
Bautista was honest and forthcoming about the state of his contract talks with the Blue Jays during his first media availability of the spring. In his mind, there's no need for negotiation because the price has been set and now the ball is in Toronto's court.
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The Blue Jays' star right fielder made his preference very clear during a recent meeting with the club's front office in Toronto. He declined to answer what dollar figure he was looking for, but the Blue Jays know what it is, and now it's time for them to act or begin to prepare for life without the six-time All-Star.
"If this is going to happen, I think it should be natural, organic, quick and easy," said Bautista, who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. "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."
• Bautista's comments on his contract
Bautista has been with the Blue Jays since 2008, and he has one year remaining on a five-year contract worth $65 million, which also included a team option valued at $14 million for 2016. The deal was signed by former Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos and at the time was widely criticized around the league because Bautista had just one good season under his belt.
Despite the skeptics, Bautista went on to become a relative bargain in this modern age of skyrocketing salaries. He firmly established himself as one of the most reliable sluggers in the game with at least 27 home runs in each of those years, with the only real dip coming in 2012, when he was limited to 92 games because of injury.
Bautista technically might be underpaid now, but that won't be the case at the end of the season, and for anyone who believes he might take a hometown discount, think again. That's not on the table.
"That doesn't exist, not in my world," Bautista said. "In my eyes, I've given this organization a five-year hometown discount already."
Bautista said he didn't give the Blue Jays a firm deadline to accept his offer -- which TSN's Rick Westhead reported as being five years and $150 million, terms Bautista denied were correct -- but he also declined to get into a hypothetical question about whether he'd still agree to the same terms in October. Toronto has not yet officially responded, and there has been very little dialogue between the two sides since.
The lack of continued talks could be a sign that the parties aren't on the same page, but Bautista doesn't necessarily view things that way. When asked for his thoughts on the lack of a response, his answer was quite simple: "That it's a big decision. Sometimes people have to think about it."
Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro and general manager Ross Atkins will have to weigh the pros and cons of each scenario. Bautista isn't going to leave for nothing, and it's almost guaranteed the club will at least extend him a qualifying offer at the end of the year, but his potential departure would be a major blow to the franchise.
Bautista hopes it doesn't come to that, but he isn't going to back down from his demands any time soon.
"I'm not trying to be pessimistic," Bautista said. "I'm positive, and I think they know and realize the things I say, and agree with me, it's just a matter of: Are they willing to go there? It's not necessarily Ross and Mark. I can't say that, I don't know.
"Some of that decision-making of a contract of this size that I presented has to come from ownership. How much? I don't know. I don't really know how long their rope is to make exclusive decisions on contracts like that."