With just a few hours to go before the Jays and Jose Bautista go up in front of the arbitrator, I thought it was time to ask the question: Who will win? The Blue Jays are offering $7.6 million while Jose is asking for $10.5 million.
This is, of course, taking it for granted that they won't come up with a contract before the hearing. Ken Fidlin, in the Sun, thinks the Jays 'need to lock' him up. I really don't agree that they need to, if a deal can be worked out that is reasonable to the Jays and to Jose then sure, sign him. But with the difference between what he wants and what the team is offering, I am not sure that they could agree on something long term.
Having just gotten themselves out from under two monster contracts in the past 18 months, maybe they are wary of signing another. And, yes, the focus of this team is clearly on the future but, last we checked, the American League isn't going on hold until the Jays are ready to compete. They have an obligation to their fans and their current players right now and signing Jose Bautista should be part of that obligation.
I do sort of agree with some of that, the Jays do owe us fans the best product they can put out there, with in reason. And I do think that Jose will have a good year this year. I'd be very surprised if he hits less than 30 home runs this year. But I wouldn't be willing to bet a 7 year contract on it.
If I was the Jays I'd likely wouldn't want to offer more than 3 year at this point. 3 year and somewhere around $35 million. I'm not sure if Jose would go for that and I'm not sure that he should, so likely I'd be doing exactly what the Jays are doing right now, planning to go in front of the arbitrator and letting things play out in the future.
Jose is 30 now, I'm sure he'd like to have a long term contract that would ensure that he and his family are covered for the rest of their lives. I really can't fault him for that, for us baseball is something to watch and enjoy for it is his life. He might never have another chance to cash in like this again.
From the Jay's side, I can't see offering a 30 year old, that has had one good season, a contract that would extend beyond his mid-30's. I think Jose will give us 30+ home runs this year and figure his batting average will improve from the .260 of last year. But I wouldn't bet more than a 3 year contract on it.
Anyway the question is: Who do you think will win in arbitration?