The Toronto Blue Jays had nine free agents at the conclusion of the 2016 season. The front office had their window to re-sign each of them, but the one guy who arguably had a one-way ticket to free agency was Jose Bautista.
Despite being one of the most valuable position players ever for the Blue Jays, it looked like the organization was ready to move onto the next chapter without Joey Bats.
As cool as the moments were that Bautista provided and as loyal of a solider as he’s been, one really can’t blame the Jays for going in a different direction. They lucked out with that extremely team-friendly deal and there’s no way Bautista would take another hometown discount.
But it’s funny how things can change in a matter of mere weeks.
With Edwin Encarnacion dominating the free agent headlines, all has been quiet on the Jose Bautista front. That was until earlier today, as Hazel Mae broke the story that the Blue Jays and Bautista’s camp met at the Winter Meetings.
Can now confirm Jose Bautista camp was indeed talking to #BlueJays this afternoon.
— Hazel Mae (@thehazelmae) December 7, 2016
Jon Heyman reported more of the same with the Blue Jays interest in Joey Bats.
The call to Joey Bats came right after the Indians expressed interest in him. Bautista loves Toronto, so may work out.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 7, 2016
And as crazy as it sounds, Toronto is strangely the best landing spot for Jose Bautista. The Blue Jays are the ideal fit for Bautista, and Bautista is the ideal fit for the Blue Jays.
For one, that draft pick is looming like a black cloud over Jose Bautista’s head. Only the bottom ten teams can sign Bautista without giving up a first round draft pick. As solid as a player as Bautista is, being tied to a draft pick has really affected his value.
So, the logical choice is for Jose Bautista to sign with one of the few teams which wouldn’t have to surrender a pick; the Toronto Blue Jays.
Nick Carfado of the Boston Globe reported earlier today that Jose Bautista is seeking a two-year deal, which I would be completely content with. Whichever team eventually signs Bautista will likely be getting a good deal, and better yet if it’s the Toronto Blue Jays.
Bautista may be seeking a two-year deal, but what if he were to take high AAV one-year deal and re-enter the free agent market next year? Short-term deals have certainly been profitable in recent memory or Carlos Beltran, a player of similar calibre to Jose Bautista.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Bautista’s story never got a proper conclusion. This is his chance to write a better ending.” quote=”Jose Bautista’s story never received a proper conclusion. This could be his chance to write a better ending to his era as a Blue Jay.”]
Joey Bats seems like a very proud guy; someone who is very confident in himself and his ability to get a multi-year contract. But going to market again next year, one year older … honestly may not be the worst idea, especially with the draft pick compensation eliminated for 2017.
If the Blue Jays were to bring back Jose Bautista (for whichever term), it would have to come with the caveat that he wouldn’t be in the outfield full-time. But with Steve Pearce now on the roster, the Blue Jays wouldn’t even need Bautista to play the outfield full-time.
Converting Jose Bautista to a first baseman only seems inevitable, but if both parties were willing to agree upon a shift to the infield, Joey Bats could prove to be even more valuable to the Blue Jays.
The way things finished at the end of 2016, it feels like Jose Bautista’s story never got a proper conclusion; this could be his chance to write a better ending to his era as a Blue Jay.