We’d all like more money. Or at the very least, we like the idea of it, right? Particularly if we’re good at our job. Enter José Bautista. Joey Bats is 35 years old and has been more or less playing out of his mind since 2010. He’s had a couple seasons shortened by injury, but averages over that span look like this: .266/.387/.552/.939; 95 runs, 26 doubles, and 38 home runs.
So he was probably making something like $20 million or more per year, right? Not exactly. His five-year extension worth $65 million went into effect back in 2011, but here’s how those yearly salaries broke down:
2010 – $2,400,000
2011 – $8,000,000
2012 – $14,000,000
2013 – $14,000,000
2014 – $14,000,000
2015 – $14,000,000
That’s $66.4 million over six years with those numbers, or a touch over $11 million per year. He’ll make another $14 million this season before hitting the market. Then what? Well, don’t expect a hometown discount:
“Doesn’t exist. Not in my world. In my eyes, I’ve given this organization a 5-year hometown discount already.”
That was from the Fox Sports piece over one week ago—one of many chronicling this ongoing drama that typically follows these contract discussions. Or in Bautista’s case, lack thereof. As most of us know by now, he reportedly named his price and isn’t backing down:
“Toronto Blue Jays’ all-star outfielder Jose Bautista is demanding a contract extension for more than $150 million for at least five years, two sources familiar with the matter told TSN.”
That’s quite the chunk of change, and three or four years ago, I’d even say it was definitely deserved. There’s even the case to be made that it’s deserved now, but it’s hard to argue for such a contract for a player who’s on the wrong side of 35. Naturally, the very same Bautista denied said reports. But that’s not exactly what I’m here to talk about.
It’s this idea of a hometown discount. We know what it means but why do so many believe players should take it? Why do so many of us expect it? Sure we’ve seen it—Jered Weaver with the Los Angeles Angels in 2011, Yoenis Céspedes with the New York Mets this offseason—but we shouldn’t treat it as gospel.
Fortunately this time around, aside from the sporadic ‘Baseball salaries are a joke’ and ‘what about player loyalty?’, we haven’t had to. It’s been surprisingly refreshing, actually. Because here’s the thing about loyalty in sports: it oftentimes doesn’t exist. An athlete can be cut or traded at anytime, which they know. Teams are always looking for an advantage—as they should be. Why not get paid as much as you can while you’re at it?
Sometimes we want players to be honest for the sake of it; other times we want them to ‘take one for the team’ because we have this misplaced sense of what an athlete—or who an athlete—should be. Here’s what, or rather who, José Bautista is: He’s a very good baseball player; he’s very important to Toronto’s playoff chances this season; he loves the fans and they love him back. Plus, he owns the single greatest bat-flip (or throw?) in baseball history:
Lastly, this is his job—one that he deserves to get paid for based on his levels of production. Whether it’s by Toronto or any other club, he will get paid very handsomely—because those levels have been very high for a very consistent period of time. And typically, they don’t come at a discount. At least not twice.
Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference