Jays, Bautista get more time

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:43 PM ET

DUNEDIN — At the request of both sides, Jose Bautista’s arbitration hearing was postponed for four days Monday to allow the major-league home run king and the Blue Jays to try to hammer out a multi-year contract.

The arbitration hearing had been scheduled to be heard in Phoenix on Monday but has been rescheduled for Friday, if necessary. Bautista, one season away from free agency, has requested $10.5 million US while the Jays has offered $7.6 million.

“Our arbitration hearing with Jose Bautista has been postponed to allow further negotiation between the player and the club,” said Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, in a release. “As it is the Blue Jays policy not to discuss contract negotiations, I will not be making any further comments regarding Jose Bautista until an agreement is reached or the conclusion of the arbitration process.”

Bautista’s desire all through the off-season has been to negotiate a long-term deal with Toronto, but the Jays had not made any gestures in that direction until just before the two sides were scheduled to square off in Monday’s hearing.

Bautista, through his agent, Bean Stringfellow, had told the Jays some time ago that, if the case went to a hearing, there would be no further contract discussions until the end of the season.

This case is unique in that Bautista’s track record had been largely as a bench player until 2010 when he hit 54 home runs and drove in 124 runs, such a dramatic break with the past that make baseball people wonder if it was repeatable.

However, if Bautista continues to be a run-producer in the middle of the lineup to the tune of 30-35 homers and 100 RBIs, he will get a much larger contract in free agency than the Jays would have to pay by locking him up now.

It’s all about risk and perhaps now they’ll be able to share that risk.


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