While it’s unclear how far negotiations on a contract extension have progressed — if, indeed, they have started at all — Jose Bautista on Sunday reiterated his desire to remain with the Toronto Blue Jays beyond this year.
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In a text message to FOXSports.com, Bautista said he is “still very hopeful” about his chances of remaining with the Blue Jays for the long term.
“I would very much like to be a part of this (organization),” Bautista said. “I feel like we have a great, up-and-coming team. I love Toronto as a city and our fans.”
Bautista, 30, is scheduled to oppose the team in a salary arbitration hearing on Monday afternoon. He asked for a $10.5 million salary. The team countered at $7.6 million. Barring a multiyear agreement prior to the hearing, a panel of arbitrators will hear the case and decide between the two salaries.
Bautista led the big leagues last year with 54 home runs is a free agent after this season. That explains the urgency associated with the prospect of a long-term deal.
Last week Bautista told Ken Fidlin of The Toronto Sun that he won’t discuss a contract extension once the hearing is over.
Bautista told Fidlin: “After the hearing, I believe we will notify the team that (a long-term deal) is not going to be a possibility, unless it’s in that window they have from the end of the season until the free agency period begins.”