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Jose Bautista, Blue Jays Agree on New Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Jose Bautista's search for a contract has come to an end after he agreed to a deal that will keep him with the Toronto Blue Jays; the team made the announcement Wednesday:

Baseball Prospectus Toronto first reported Bautista's agreement with the Blue Jays on Tuesday, noting the deal includes various incentives and a mutual option. 

On Tuesday, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported Bautista will earn $18 million with a one-year guarantee and that options in the contract could extend it to $60 million for three years. Heyman noted the salary is higher than the $17.2 million he would have received if he accepted Toronto's qualifying offer in November.

Richard Justice of MLB.com reported Bautista and the Blue Jays confirmed the contract numbers, and the deal includes a mutual option worth $17 million in 2018 and a vesting option worth $20 million in 2019.

After having a journeyman run early in his career, Bautista turned into a superstar with the Blue Jays in 2010 when he hit 54 home runs and finished fourth in American League MVP voting. He subsequently finished in the top 10 of MVP voting three times in the next five years.

It appeared the marriage between Bautista and the Blue Jays was coming to an end when his contract expired after the 2016 season.

The Blue Jays jumped on free agents Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce, who has the versatility to play at first base or in the outfield. That eagerness led to the departure of Edwin Encarnacion.

Bautista kept twisting in the wind because it wasn't clear where his market started. MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Sunday the Baltimore Orioles had been in contact with the six-time All-Star.

Rosenthal reported Saturday the Cleveland Indians, who signed Encarnacion earlier this offseason, were keeping in touch with Bautista if his price fell to a certain undisclosed point.

Instead, as the Blue Jays faced the possibility of going into a season with Ezequiel Carrera as their starting right fielder, the front office decided the best course of action would be to bring Bautista back.

Under most circumstances, a player with Bautista's resume would warrant a large extension without hesitation, but he turned 36 in October, and his numbers declined in 2016 for the second consecutive year.

The Blue Jays did have a change in the front office last offseason when Mark Shapiro officially took over as team president in October after previously working with the Indians.

Ross Atkins became Toronto's general manager when Alex Anthopoulos left the organization after being unable to reach a contract extension despite leading the team to its first postseason in 22 years in 2015.

Shapiro came from a situation in Cleveland that required him to be diligent in free agency because the Indians couldn't compete with teams for big contracts, minus their open wallet for Encarnacion this winter. It did lead to an exodus of talent, though it also helped him avoid giving out some of the long-term deals that have backfired on other teams in the past.

By waiting out Bautista's market, Shapiro played the market into his favor since the veteran outfielder was coming off a down year in 2016. The Blue Jays didn't have to overextend themselves on a long-term deal for a player in his late 30s, while Bautista gets to stay in a place he's comfortable.

After Bautista turned his career around in Toronto, it's fitting he will have at least one more year with a team capable of competing for a playoff spot in the American League. He's been the face of the franchise for years and will have more time to bring a championship to the city.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

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