Monday, February 21, 2011

Will Bautista resigning pay off for Blue Jays

Baseball betting pundits note how The Toronto Blue Jays had a tough decision to make heading into this offseason. What to do with their star-slugger Jose Bautista?

MLB Betting experts note how Bautista is coming off a season where he hit a club record 54 home runs, more than tripling his previous career high of 16 set in 2006. The .260 batting average, .378 on-base percentage, 124 RBIs, 109 runs and 100 walks also stand far beyond his past levels of production.

Certainly those numbers would warrant a pay raise.

So the Jays put up a $64-million, five-year extension to the third baseman/outfielder to avoid arbitration and keep him from free agency in the fall.

This is in many ways a gamble for the Blue Jays but one GM Alex Anthopoulos felt he had enough inside knowledge to make the decision sensibly.

Going to arbitration with Bautista and waiting until next fall to try and lock up the 2010 home run champion was the safe move. Especially when you are evaluating a player on one spectacular season unlike any other in an otherwise uneventful career.

Bautista gets $8 million in 2011, and $14 million in each of 2012-15. The club holds also an option of $14 million for the 2016 season with a $1-million buyout.

So what does Bautista have to do in future seasons to make this extension a good move? Can he do enough to even come close? Very few are expecting him to hit 50 home runs again and even 30 home runs seems like a long shot. It is just so hard to tell when a player has one season that is out of the ordinary from previous years.

The Jays are taking a gamble and maybe that is what it takes in the AL East. They are stuck behind three teams loaded with talent and two (the Yankees and Red Sox) who spend like no other.

Shedding the inflated contract of Vernon Wells was a celebrated move by Anthopoulos and it will help the club move forward right away. But it could very well be the Bautista signing that defines the new GM and how he will turn the Blue Jays into contenders or pretenders.

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