And when we say long-term, we mean long-term. The terms of the deal guarantee Bautista $65 million over five years through his age-35 season, with a club option bringing the potential total value to six years and $78 million.
Throwing the option aside. Bautista will earn an annual value of $10.8 million, which is staggering given Bautista has never made more than $2.4 million in his career and was in his final year of arbitration.
Bautista's case was rather tricky as his 54 home runs represented a career high, far and away over his previous high of 16, set all the way back in 2006. However, the 30-year-old bashed 10 home runs in September of 2009 after only three up to that date in what looked like a new approach at the plate. Sure, that 54 home runs looks all but impossible to repeat, but even settling around 30 home runs would provide a return on the deal.
That approach carried over to 2010, when he finished fourth in MVP balloting with an insane .260/.378/.617 line in 683 plate appearances. This after 2,038 plate appearances from 2004-09, split between five teams and a line of .238/.329/.400.
The righty will likely open the year as the club's starting third baseman, although he will likely transition back to the outfield once an acceptable replacement at third emerges and the logjam of outfielders is cleared out. Bautista has extensive (357 games) experience at third and has proven to be a lousy defender, while his outfield numbers are far more promising.
Is the deal a risk for Toronto? Absolutely. It's a lot to bank on what is essentially a one-year wonder, but GM Alex Anthopoulous has proven deserving of some rope after the brilliant moves he's made so far as GM. Clearly, AA believes Bautista's transformation is for real. If it is, Anthopoulous did a brilliant job of locking up Bautista before his price went up further and hitting free agency, which would only complicate matters.
But it could just as easily become one of the worst contracts in the game.
-- Evan Brunell