Though he has tabled contract negotiations until after the season, Blue Jays rightfielder Jose Bautista told Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci that he has not ruled out a return to Toronto.
“I love the city,” Bautista told Verducci in this week’s issue of the magazine. “I’d be stupid to leave.”
Bautista, who turns 36 this fall, signed a six-year, $78 million contract in 2011 and is set to hit free agency this off-season. After shutting down negotiations during spring training, Bautista denied a report that he had asked the Blue Jays for $150 million over five years.
Although he hasn’t specified how much money he is looking for, Bautista told Verducci that he won’t take a so-called hometown discount.
“I will explore every single option, whether it happens or not with the new regime, to continue to try to stay here,” Bautista said. “That being said, I think teams utilize that a lot against players, [seeking] a discount or bargain price, and I think that’s extremely unfair, especially to have your biggest contributors on the field and try to take advantage of the fact that they like it there and negotiate a tougher deal.”
Read Verducci’s full profile of Bautista—including the slugger's thoughts on the future of baseball and what was behind this month's brawl with Rougned Odor and the Rangers—in this week’s Sports Illustrated, which hits newsstands Wednesday, and on SI.com on Wednesday morning.