It took a few months to finally agree to a new deal, but outfielder Jose Bautista is now officially back with the Toronto Blue Jays.
On Wednesday, Bautista signed a one-year, $18 million contract that will keep him in Toronto for the 2017 season. The contract contains a $17 million mutual option for the 2018 season, as well as a $20 million vesting option for the 2019 season.
Back in November, Bautista declined the Blue Jays’ one-year, $17.2 million qualifying offer. He decided to instead seek a lucrative, multi-year deal via free agency. However, no team was really willing to give him what he wanted. This led to Bautista re-signing with the Blue Jays.
Bautista, 36, is starting to come toward the end of his career. The slugging outfielder battled a toe injury last season that kept him sidelined for over a month. He still managed to put up decent numbers in 2016, batting .234 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs. However, Bautista was not named to the American League All-Star team. It was the first time since 2009 that he was not an All-Star.
Although Bautista’s home run numbers have slowly declined over the past few years, he still has a good amount of power. In 2015, he belted 40 homers while also collecting 114 RBIs. Over the course of his 13-year career, Bautista has hit 35 or more home runs in a season four times. He has led the MLB in homers twice in his career.
The Blue Jays were smart not to overpay Bautista. After he rejected their qualifying offer, the team decided to wait and let him test the free agent market before making another offer. After it was clear that no team was going to give Bautista the contract that he wanted, the Blue Jays started to renegotiate with him. This eventually resulted in the two sides agreeing to a one-year deal.
Whether or not Bautista will remain in Toronto beyond the 2017 season is unclear right now. Because the contract includes a mutual option, it means that either Bautista or the Blue Jays could opt-out of the deal after one year. If Bautista has a good season, he will probably want out of the deal so as to get a bigger contract in free agency. The Blue could decide to opt-out of the deal if he does not have a productive year in 2017. In all likelihood, Bautista will be a free agent once again next offseason.
Bautista may not have gotten the deal that he wanted, but he still has a chance land a big contract next offseason. It will all depend on whether or not he stays healthy and puts up good offensive numbers in 2017.