Sports Baseball

It's official: Blue Jays sign Jose Bautista to one-year deal

By Scott Mitchell, Toronto Sun

The Blue Jays have confirmed that Jose Bautista has signed a one-year contract worth a guaranteed base salary of US$18 million. (AP/PHOTO)

The Blue Jays have confirmed that Jose Bautista has signed a one-year contract worth a guaranteed base salary of US$18 million. (AP/PHOTO)

TORONTO - 

The details are in and the deal is done.

Jose Bautista will be back for a 10th season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

As expected, it’s a one-year contract with two additional option years that have long odds of ever actually coming to fruition.

The pact was officially announced by the club Wednesday morning.

Bautista will earn US$18 million in 2017, more than the one-year, $17.2-million qualifying offer from the Jays he rejected back in November, but still a far cry from the contract expectations he held going into last season.

The second year is a $17-million mutual option for 2018 with a $500,000 buyout should either side decline.

If Bautista enjoys a healthy and productive campaign at the age of 36, he’ll want to head out on the free-agent market again next winter — without draft pick compensation attached to him this time — in search of lucrative, long-term security in what will likely be his last chance to really cash in.

If he doesn’t, it’ll be two straight down years and the Jays can walk away from the financial commitment.

The third year is a $20-million vesting option for 2019, which, according to a report by MLB insider Jon Heyman, will kick in if Bautista plays at least 300 combined games across the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

That's a tall task at his age.

Heyman also reported there are attendance bonuses in the contract that could earn Bautista an additional $900,000 per year if four million fans stream through Rogers Centre gates to see him play.

Bautista can start claiming the $150,000 bonuses at 3.5 million fans, all the way up to four million.

The Jays drew 3.4 million fans in 2016, third-most in baseball.

In essence, Bautista is guaranteed $18.5 million to take another kick at the can in Toronto and cement his legacy as one of the best hitters to ever don a Blue Jays uniform.

The Dominican native’s 265 home runs in Toronto are second in club history behind Carlos Delgado’s 336.

Last year, Bautista hit 22 home runs during an injury-plagued season that saw him appear in just 116 games.