The latest revelation that the Red Sox were pursuing Toronto slugger Jose Bautista at the Winter Meetings certainly reinforces how desperately the team wanted to improve the offense, knowing they would likely lose Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre in free-agency from the 2010 squad.
FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal first reported the Sox tried to obtain Bautista, who led the majors with 54 homers last season, before signing free-agent leftfielder Carl Crawford. A team source confirmed that the FoxSports report. The Red Sox had claimed Bautista on waivers in the summer of 2009 but were unable to work out a deal with the Jays at the time.
Bautista went on to have a monster, career season in 2010, but now the Jays have to pay him and the arbitration numbers are getting a little less than comfortable for the Blue Jays, who have submitted a $7.6 million figure while Bautista has come in an $10.5 million.
Reached by text, Bautista indicated, in regard to rumors surrounding the Red Sox and other teams trying to obtain him, "It's all just rumors to me at this stage...who knows if any of it is true? There's nothing for me to comment on yet."
Asked whether he was upset that the Jays to this point, have not been inclined to offer Bautista a long-term deal, he said, "Not upset at all. Everything will work itself out."
The Red Sox explored Carlos Beltran and Magglio Ordonez as reported at the time of the winter meetings after the Red Sox had already traded for Adrian Gonzalez and lost Victor Martinez to the Tigers in free-agency. The Red Sox wouldn't go more than four years, $40 million or three years at $36 million for Martinez and they drew the line at four years, $52 million on Beltre, who signed a five-year, $80 million deal with the Rangers with a sixth-year vesting option which could make the contract worth $96 million.
The Sox had also explored a deal for former Philadelphia Phillies' rightfielder Jason Werth, but were no where near the seven years at $126 million the Washington Nationals wound up signing Werth for.
According to the Fox report, the Sox made multiple offers to land Bautista. New Jays manager John Farrell was obviously very familiar with Boston's talent, and so the situation felt a bit like the Adrian Gonzalez trade scenario with Jed Hoyer and the Padres except the teams are in the same division. But it didn't appear the Jays were ever really serious about dealing Bautista and in retrospect were trying harder to get from under Vernon Wells' $86 million. Amazingly the Jays were able to send Wells to the Angels for catcher/ first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera.
Yesterday the Jays sent Napoli to Texas for reliever Frank Francisco.
With Wells' money gone, it'll be interesting to see whether the Jays revisit a longer term deal with Bautista.