Jose Bautista is set for a $10-million Valentine’s Day, courtesy of the Blue Jays

Jose Bautista is set for a $10-million Valentine’s Day, courtesy of the Blue Jays

For Valentine’s Day this year, slugger Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays are going to talk about their relationship. But it won’t be a typical V-Day date—no romance, no roses, no sweet-nothings cooed in one another’s ears. They’ll be talking money at an arbitration hearing in Arizona—namely how much Bautista should make next year. Take it from us, it’s all but guaranteed that Bautista will walk away with a satisfied smile on his face.

That’s because if Bautista is an arbitration winner, he stands to make $10.5 million (U.S.). If he loses, he’ll pocket $7.6 million. The date itself will be a stern and formal affair with Bautista and his agent on one side of the table and the Blue Jays legal team on the other. A three-person panel of arbitrators will make the final decision (in the interest of the cheesy date metaphor, they’d be the waiter) and there’s little doubt they’ll be pushing the check the Jays’ way when the affair comes to a close.

The Toronto Star’s baseball guru Richard Griffin has the story:

Why are the Jays likely to lose at arbitration? Yeah, I know the Jays will argue that it’s only one season that he’s been good, that the rest of his career has been fair to mediocre, but consider these inarguable one-year facts that agent Stringfellow (I love that name) will put forth about his client.

Bautista in 2010 led the majors in home runs, extra base hits (92), and tied for first in total bases (351). He became only the seventh player in history to record at least 30 doubles, 50 homers and 100 walks in the same season, joining a bunch of Hall-of-Famers. He is only the 16th player in history to hit 54 or more home runs. He earned a Silver Slugger in the AL in the outfield and was selected the Hank Aaron Award winner as the most outstanding offensive performer in the AL.

Of course, the Jays likely won’t be playing the spurned lover, even if they lose. Bautista was a steal with those numbers last season, earning only $2.4 million, and the Jays should get to see him again. Word is they’ll be simply using the arbitration result as the basis for establishing a long-term relationship with Bautista before opening day.

• Griffin: Bautista set for no-lose hearing [Toronto Star]
• Jays, Bautista headed for Feb. 14 arbitration [National Post]

(Image: Keith Allison)