Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista made some waves a couple weeks ago when a story from TSN’s Rick Westhead claimed that the bat-flipping extraordinaire is "demanding a contract extension for more than $150 million for at least five years."
And Westhead would go on to write that Bautista and his financial advisors compared his value to the club to that of Miguel Cabrera and Derek Jeter. (Bautista, by the way, would come out soon thereafter and immediately deny asking for that amount of money.)
But anyway, from the moment that story hit I began working on a statistical model/projection for Bautista over the next six seasons to see exactly what type of projection – and subsequent value – could be expected out of the potential borderline Hall of Famer (a conversation for another day, I’m sure).
So here’s what I’ve come up with: if one includes his 2016 season as part of a contract extension – meaning his existing $14 million deal for the upcoming season would be scrapped and replaced by a new pact – Bautista could come awfully close to tallying $150 million in on-field production through the end of 2021.
And now my method…
Using CAL, the Comparison And Likeness formula based off Bill James’ Similarity Score (which has been continually been refined since rolling it out two years ago), I created another set of algorithms to project a player’s upcoming season – something I rolled out in my book this year (which can be bought here).
Here’s how CAL thinks Bautista’s going to fare in the upcoming season. And just for comparison’s sake, I’ve included his projections from ZiPS, Steamer, Marcel, and Baseball Prospectus.
Note: The variables for wOBA, as well as every other yearly variables moving forward, are estimated based off historical numbers. These variables, undoubtedly, differ in each projection system.
CAL, which more or less falls right in line with the other top four projection systems, lists Sid Gordon, Gary Sheffield, Frank Robinson, Mel Ott, and Stan Musial as Bautista’s Top 5 comparables heading into 2016.
From here on out, I repeated the painstaking process of determining Bautista’s Top CALs – or comparables – and projected his 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 seasons. Below are the results for his entire six-year future production:
After that I churned through all the necessary formulas found on FanGraphs to determine his WAR. Another few notes:
- Again, estimates had to be used for his Base Running, Fielding, League Adjustment, and Replacement Level values, as well as park factors and any other number that is based off of league production, in each of the forthcoming years. These were based off his historical data and were heavily weighted for the most recent couple years.
- For defensive positioning, I assumed Bautista would remain largely as right fielder until following his age-38 season. After that, he transitioned into Toronto’s version of David Ortiz (i.e., a full time designated hitter).
And here’s what I’ve come up with for Bautista’s WAR totals, as well as the estimated on-field value in terms of dollars, from 2016 through 2021: (Note: The value of one win above replacement was slightly under $8 million in 2015. I used a constant 5% increase throughout the duration of this study.)
Note: Dollar amount in millions.
Finally, the grand totals:
So in the end, that $150 million figure reportedly floated (and quickly denied) by Bautista and his representatives isn’t that far out of the realm of possibility if he was to be paid that amount between 2016 and 2021. Assuming the Blue Jays’ front office only looks to extend the slugger after the upcoming season, then something in the neighborhood of five years and $110 million seems reasonably fair – though let’s not forget that Toronto’s dealing with the opportunity cost of extending their window of contention and the fact that Bautista’s become as iconic as the Maple Leaf.
Joseph Werner is a contributor to Beyond the Box Score. All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference. After peaking as Amazon's #3 baseball book last year, his most recent book, The 2016 Prospect Digest Handbook, is now available here. For more analysis check out Werner's site: ProspectDigest.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoltinJoey.