Toronto Blue Jays' slugger Jose Bautista is not willing to negotiate a new contract with the team if they do not want to meet his asking price, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm writes.
A free agent at the end of the 2016 season, Bautista will likely command a healthy market of interested teams next offseason. Having been one of MLB's premier home run hitters since the 2010 season, Bautista will have the chance to cash in on his success, something he didn't do last time.
After a breakout 2010 season in which Bautista hit .260 with 54 HR nd 124 RBI, the Blue Jays signed him to a five-year, $64 million extension. Since then, that contract has become one of the biggest bargains in baseball due to his production, which is why he will not give Toronto another "hometown discount."
"That doesn't exist, not in my world," Bautista told MLB.com. "In my eyes, I've given this organization a five-year hometown discount already."
Since 2010, Bautista has been a .270 hitter with 173 HR and 582 RBI while serving as the Blue Jays' primary right fielder. Even during an injury-riddled 2012 campaign, Bautista still contributed 27 HR and 65 RBI in 92 games.
When Bautista recently met with the team to possibly discuss a contract extension, he already knew what his asking price would be. Now, it's in the Blue Jays' hands to decide if they want to meet that asking price.
"I didn't want to waste their time or their effort, so they can start planning ahead, and if it's not going to happen, they have plenty of time to [respond]. They asked me about two weeks ago, and I told them, that's it. There's no negotiation, I told them what I wanted. They either meet it, or it is what it is."
At 35-years-old, it wouldn't be surprising if Bautista's production waned, even slightly, this upcoming season. In that event, the six-time All-Star's asking price could drop as an injury-laden or simply down year in 2016 could steer teams away from an aging slugger.
However, there is no reason to believe Bautista is headed for a down year. Just last season, Bautista hit .250 with 40 HR and 114 RBI through 153 games. He also led the AL with 110 walks. As MLB Trade Rumors mentions, despite having played most of his game in the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, Bautista has still been an elite hitter over the past six years.
"Even when factoring in his hitter-friendly home park, Bautista's bat has been 55 percent better than the league-average hitter, according to OPS+, and 54 percent better than average, per wRC+."
Bautista's production should be helped by an elite supporting cast in the lineup this upcoming season. Reigning AL MVP Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion, Russell Martin, and Troy Tulowitzki are just some of the Blue Jays' power hitters. The team is also reportedly in talks with the Cincinnati Reds about acquiring outfielder Jay Bruce, but the proposed trade is off at the moment, according to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
In recent years, free agency has shown to be a lucrative position for players to be in. Just this past offseason, a 32-year-old Zack Greinke made history by securing the largest average annual value (AAV) in a contract ever -- signing a six-year, $206.5 million with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It's understandable for a team and a player to seek the best deal possible. However, Bautista doesn't think his asking price is negotiable; especially after his elite-level production over the past six seasons.
"If this is going to happen, I think it should be natural, organic, quick and easy. It shouldn't be pull and tug over a few dollars here and there."
[Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images]