- Associated Press - Thursday, February 17, 2011

DUNEDIN, FLA. (AP) - Home run champion Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays finalized a $65 million, five-year contract on Thursday.

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.

Bautista gets $8 million this year and $14 million in each of the following four seasons. Toronto has a $14 million option for 2016 with a $1 million buyout.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said giving Bautista a lengthy contract “is part of the risk” of signing a player after one exceptional season.

“The easy thing for me and the organization to do was to not do anything and say, `Well, it was one year,’” Anthopoulos said. “The conservative approach was to let him play it out. If he has a great season maybe he prices himself out of what we thought made sense. If he doesn’t have a good season, well, it would have been a good move not to sign him.”

Bautista had requested $10.5 million and the Blue Jays had offered $7.6 million when players and teams exchanged proposed arbitration salaries last month.

Bautista hit .260 with 54 homers and 124 RBIs last year. when he played 113 games in the outfield and 48 at third base. Toronto is set to use him at third base this season.

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