People seem to forget the Blue Jays have to pay a premium to sign, and keep their own, free agents. #ohcanada
— Nav Vaswani (@vaswani_) February 17, 2011
Word on the street is that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista are close to a deal — a 5-year, $65-million deal. The word in my head is that this is a bad idea.
I’d been waiting all offseason for this signing to happen. Planned to lead the post with a song. The Pixies. Bone Machine.
“You’re so pretty when you’re faithful to me.”
Would’ve been great, in my head anyway. But, as I’ve already said, this deal, it doesn’t please my head so much.
Why? Because Bautista really just doesn’t have a very good track record. Yeah, his 2010 was off the charts, but everything else he’s done has been, well, less than impressive.
(If you want numbers on this, there are plenty of blogs that will give you that. Might I suggest Getting Blanked or Ghostrunner on First — assuming Drew tackles this subject — as a good starting point?)
So, assuming the report is correct, why would the Jays sign a deal like this one? I’ve got two theories. Maybe one’s correct, maybe there’s a third option that escapes me:
1. Blue Jays brass truly believes Bautista’s the real deal. Locking him up now may be more expensive in the short-term than going to arbitration and letting him mash his way through 2011, pushing his value even higher and potentially losing him to an outrageous bid from the Red Sox or Yankees.
2. Just as the Vernon Wells deal before it, the word came from on high: “I don’t care what you want to do, you’re going to sign this player.” From a marketing standpoint, this makes sense. Alex Anthopoulos has already built up a huge amount of credit with the “knowledgable” fans, but there are a lot of Maple Leafs fans in this city who aren’t happy with prospects and building the right way. Remember when VW was traded and the immediate calls to spend that $25 million elsewhere? This deal should go a long way toward keeping those people happy and, if you’re worried about ticket sales, that’s something you might want to take into consideration.
If the team made its move based on Theory 1 as listed above, and the gamble pays off, this is a great move. But I don’t see it working out quite that way.
That’s not to say I see Bautista completely falling off a cliff. No, I see him regressing to be a good, but not great, player. The kind of player you can likely get for less than $13 million per.
But you know what? Even if this deal is real and even if Bautista completely falls off a cliff, it’s not the worst thing in the world. It does give younger players something to look forward to (play well and be rewarded for it) and it should go a long way toward building up the reputation the team’s working toward (we take care of our own and we’re a great place to be).
So maybe it’s not the best thing, and I definitely don’t like it right now, but it’s not a horrible, stupid thing either.
And who knows, the reports of this deal may be false anyway.