Earlier this week, it was announced that Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays were pushing back their scheduled arbitration hearing. The assumption was that the two sides were busy working on a long-term contract extension, and sure enough, that's exactly what they were doing, and now Enrique Rojas reports that they've reached an agreement.
The contract has been confirmed by Ken Rosenthal, and the team has called an afternoon press conference, presumably to announce the deal officially. Bautista will be locked up for the next five years at a total sum of $64 million, and there's a sixth-year club option that could take the total value up to $78 million.
It's a hefty raise for Bautista, who earned $2.4 million a year ago. He was set to become a free agent this coming November, but has now signed that opportunity away, as he and the team are rather fond of one another.
The 30-year-old Bautista obviously made headlines last season as he slugged a league-leading 54 home runs. Previous to that, he had a career .729 OPS to go with 59 total dingers as a member of five different teams, but he figured something out with Toronto, and while nobody expects him to go deep another 54 times in 2011, the Blue Jays clearly believe in him enough to make a major long-term commitment. If Bautista slips back to what he used to be, this deal will look bad pretty quick, but if he's able to hang on to most of his gains, the Jays will look smart, and Bautista will secure himself as one of the biggest turnaround stories in baseball history.
For more on Bautista and the Jays, check out Bluebird Banter.