- Associated Press - Thursday, February 17, 2011

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (AP) - A person familiar with the negotiations says the Toronto Blue Jays and major league home run leader Jose Bautista have reached an agreement on a five-year, $65 million contract.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team was not set to make an official announcement. That is expected to come Thursday.

The Blue Jays opened spring training in Dunedin, Fla., earlier this week.

The 30-year-old Bautista led the majors with 54 homers last season and was eligible for arbitration.

His hearing was postponed Monday at the request of both parties and a Friday deadline to reach an agreement was set.

Bautista had requested $10.5 million in arbitration. The Blue Jays had offered $7.6 million.

Bautista’s seventh major league season ranks as one of the biggest breakouts in baseball history. He nearly matched his career home run total of 59 coming into the season, drove in 124 runs and scored 109 with a .260 average. He had never hit more than 16 homers nor driven in more than 63 runs in a season.

He played mostly right field for Toronto last season, though he also appeared in 45 games at third base and is expected to start this season there.

He was acquired by the Blue Jays from the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2008 season. He has also played for Baltimore, Kansas City and Tampa Bay.

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