Griffin: Bautista and Frasor head to arbitration hearings
And then there were two. The Jays, back at the out-set of the arbitration process, had a group of nine players eligible to take advantage, but over the past three days, GM Alex Anthopoulos and his front office staff were able to come to terms with the majority of those players, leaving major-league home run king Jose Bautista and former closer Jason Frasor as the lone remaining Jays headed towards one-year hearings in February.
“Our policy on one-year deals, if we don't have one-year deals done by the 1:00 p.m. deadline, we would not negotiate a one-year deal,” Anthopoulos said. “If a multi-year deal comes about we certainly could continue to negotiate those, but those are obviously things that we keep private, keep quiet and keep in house. The only one-year deal that we would do right now is in a hearing room.”
In a hardball arbitration strategy of “settle now or we go to the hearing” that a year ago worked wonderfully to clear the board of cases before the deadline, the Jays are now entering an unprecedented salary discussion with Bautista for what could be a record settlement on a one-year contract for 2011. Anthopoulos did not rule out the possibility that a long-term deal was being worked on behind the scenes.
Frasor is the one other case pending. The veteran reliever accepted the club's offer of arbitration in December removing him from the six-year free agent ranks, but was not able to reach an acceptable agreement with Jays' GM Alex Anthopoulos. The closing bullpen picture is muddled for the Jays with the additions of a pair of experienced free agent righthanders, Octavio Dotel and Jon Rauch.
The salary demands and the offers for Bautista and Frasor will be revealed as part of the overall arbitration announcement from the office of major-league baseball later Tuesday afternoon.
Earlier in the day, the Jays signed three players to contracts, including outfielder Rajai Davis (two years, $5.25 million, plus an option for 2013); shortstop Yunel Escobar one year, $2,9 million), and righthander Brandon Morrow (one year, $2.3 million).
On Monday, the Jays had reached agreement with a trio of righthanders Casey Janssen (one year, $1.095 million), Jesse Litsch (one year, $830,000) and, as midnight approached, Shawn Camp (one year, $2.25 million). On the weekend, righthander Carlos Villanueva, acquired in December from the Brewers, showed the way reaching agreement on a one-year contract for $1.415 million.
The Jays currently have 18 players under contract for the 2011 season at a cost of $67.8 million. Bautista and Frasor are considered signed players, bringing the total to 20. The only question now is the amount for the two. The hearings are scheduled to take place in Florida sometime between February 1-20 at a date to be determined.
Bautista has five years and 165 days of service and earned $2.4 million a year ago when he slammed 54 home runs and led the major leagues. Frasor has six years and 134 days of ML service and earned $2.65 million. The righthander was ranked as a Type A free agent and instead of taking a cgance on not being signed, he accepted arbitration from the Jays.