May 15, 2017 5:21 PM
AP source: Bautista, Blue Jays agree to $18M, 1-year deal
The Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — Jose Bautista is staying with the Toronto Blue Jays after all.
The free agent slugger agreed to an $18 million, one-year contract with Toronto that includes mutual options for more years, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the deal, said Bautista passed his physical Tuesday night.
The deal contains a mutual option for a second season, with a buyout. It could last three years if the outfielder plays a certain amount of games in the first two.
The 36-year-old Bautista hit 22 homers with 69 RBIs last year while batting .234 in an injury-plagued season for Toronto.
A longtime fan favorite, Bautista (265) ranks second behind Carlos Delgado (336) on the club's career home run list. After the Blue Jays ended a 22-year playoff drought with their AL East title in 2015, Bautista hit a memorable three-run homer in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against Texas, punctuating his shot with a dramatic bat flip.
He did not accept Toronto's $17.2 million, one-year qualifying offer this offseason, instead deciding to test free agency.
The market for the veteran slugger did not materialize as he had hoped. A year ago, Bautista was asking Toronto's new management for a contact believed to be worth $150 million or more. But he had his worst year in Toronto before becoming a free agent. Other teams would have lost a high draft pick had they signed him. His age and an abundance of power hitters on the market also hurt him.
Yet the Blue Jays' failure earlier this offseason to re-sign fellow slugger and fan favorite Edwin Encarnacion did not go over well in Toronto, which led the AL in attendance last year. Encarnacion signed a $60 million, three-year contract with Cleveland after the Blue Jays abruptly withdrew their $80 million, four-year offer and reached a $33 million, three-year agreement with Kendrys Morales.
Encarnacion hit 42 home runs last season and tied Boston's David Ortiz for the AL lead in RBIs with 127.