Bautista hopes for long-term deal

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.

In a text message to, 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.”