TORONTO (AP) Outfielder Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays are ”working really hard” to bring him back to the club, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told the Associated Press on Monday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations are ongoing. The sides are discussing one-, two- and three-year agreements.
The 36-year-old Bautista hit 22 homers with 69 RBIs last year while batting .234 in an injury-slowed season.
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Bautista (265) ranks second behind Carlos Delgado (336) on Toronto’s career home run list. After Toronto ended a 22-year playoff drought with an AL East title in 2015, Bautista hit a memorable three-run homer in Game 5 of the AL Division Series against Texas, punctuating his shot with a bat flip.
He did not accept Toronto’s $17.2 million qualifying offer.
The Blue Jays’ failure earlier this offseason to re-sign fan favorite Edwin Encarnacion did not go over well in Toronto, which led the AL in attendance. Encarnacion signed a $60 million, three-year deal with Cleveland after the Blue Jays withdrew their $80 million, four-year offer and reached a $33 million, three-year agreement with Kendrys Morales. Encarnacion hit 42 home runs and tied Boston’s David Ortiz for the AL RBIs lead at 127.