Alex Anthopoulos had stated pretty clearly in multiple radio interviews that he's perfectly happy to go to arbitration with Jose Bautista.
But I believe that extension time is now, and with the newfound cash following the Vernon Wells trade (although I don't think it all needs to be spent at once), the opportunity has presented itself for the Blue Jays to follow through on extending the MLB home run king.
I propose a 4 year, $45 million contract.
Brady Anderson has easily been the most referenced player in connection with Jose Bautista. Yet Brady wasn't exactly terrible following his 50 homer season, regardless of public opinion and the lack of any eye-popping stats in following seasons.
Sure, he never hit for plus-plus power after 1996, but just look at the OPS's of the four seasons after his big year: .862, .776, .881, .796. Not too bad, eh? And certainly worth $10 million in today's crazy baseball economy.
Fangraphs (and others) estimates one WAR to be worth between $4 and $5 million dollars (we'll use 4.5), and combining Anderson's WAR from the four seasons following 1996 (total of 11.5), he's worth $51.75 mil over that four year stretch.
Still think giving Jose Bautista a shiny new contract is too risky?
Anderson is seen as the sterling example of what terrible thing could happen to Jose Bautista in 2011, a frightening historical precedent that can't be ignored. But clearly, even if Bautista does fall off an Anderson-like cliff after signing my proposed four year $45 million dollar deal, it would still be worth it. And then some.
On the opposite side of the spectrum of surprising 50 homer hitters is Cecil Fielder, who after toiling away in Toronto, got his chance with Detroit in 1990 to be an everyday hitter, and boy did he claim it, with 51 home runs and a .277/.377/.592 line.
Yes, he's nowhere near the same type of player as Bautista and the miracle season was under very different circumstances, but the main point remains the same: it was surprising, and people wondered if it was all a mirage.
It wasn't, and although never again did Fielder hit an OPS of .900 in a season or even reach 45 bombs, he did average 33.6 dingers over the next five years. These five seasons were worth 14 WAR according to Fangraphs, and therefore a value of $63MM.
Now, this brings up a new argument: home runs aren't all what they're made out to be, as Anderson almost reaches Fielder's value plateau despite never again hitting 25 and a big shift in the court of public opinion.
But my point still stands, even in the worst-case scenario that fans are predicting for Bautista in 2011, he's still worth a big contract, as he has a long way to fall.
Please Alex Anthopoulos, pay Jose Bautista.