Bautista, Blue Jays 'engaged in contract discussions'
Sources tell MLB.com free-agent slugger, Toronto reopen talks
By Gregor Chisholm and Oliver Macklin
MLB.com |@gregorMLB |
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have not closed the door on the possibility of re-signing star slugger Jose Bautista to a short-term deal.
MLB Network insider Jon Paul Morosi reported on Thursday that the Blue Jays are "engaged in active contract discussions" with Bautista. A source later told MLB.com that Bautista is one of the names the Blue Jays are considering and that the two sides have remained in touch but that nothing is imminent. The club has not confirmed that any discussions are taking place.
Sources previously told MLB.com earlier this month that Toronto had not offered Bautista anything beyond the $17.2 million qualifying offer that he rejected at the start of the offseason. At the time, Bautista was seeking a multiyear deal, but multiple reports over the last week have indicated he is now open to a one-year contract.
The 36-year-old right fielder had a down year by his standards in 2016, hitting .234 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs while not being named to the American League All-Star team for the first time since 2009. He also missed time with various injuries, appearing in just 116 games.
A one-year deal would allow Toronto to bring Bautista back for a possible rebound in 2017 without risking big money beyond next season. The Blue Jays are still looking to add at least one outfielder to their roster in addition to a backup catcher and additional arms for the bullpen.
Toronto does have some money to spend with a 2017 payroll that is expected to be in the range of $160 million, with approximately $135 million currently committed once arbitration projections are factored in.
Bautista has plenty of motivation to seek a reunion with the Blue Jays. His market has not developed as expected through free agency, and the fact that teams would have to part with a pick in next year's MLB Draft appears to have limited his options on the open market. Bautista also has multiple lucrative endorsements in the city, which adds to his desire to remain with the ballclub.
A person close to Bautista recently told Yahoo Sports Jeff Passan: "That's where his heart is. He wants to go back there."