Finally, the months-long cat and mouse game between Jose Bautista and the Toronto Blue Jays appears to be coming to an end.
Late Sunday, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com reported the Blue Jays and Bautista were close to finalizing a deal which would see Jose return to Toronto for at least one more season.
John Lott of The Athletic reports the deal could be worth slightly more than the $17.2 million qualifying offer which the Blue Jays extended to Jose Bautista back in October. Jeff Passan says Bautista and the Jays are focusing in on a one-year contract.
If you’re like me and awoke this morning to hear this news, it’s nothing but a positive move for the Blue Jays. Especially if the term is only a one or two-year contract, there’s virtually no downside to bringing back a player the calibre of Jose Bautista.
My estimation is that the hang-up in these negotiations could be Jose Bautista’s camp campaigning for a second year of the contract. Something like a built-in opt-out or a club option would make sense for Bautista, but the Blue Jays still have the upper hand in negotiations right now.
I found it funny that reports emerged over the weekend that both the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles were rumoured to have interest in Jose Bautista. This was mere days after Mark Shapiro went on Sportsnet 590 The Fan and said Bautista was “if not the best, one of the best” fits for the Blue Jays.
He’s right – any combination of Brandon Moss, Michael Saunders or Angel Pagan would pale in comparison to simply re-signing Jose Bautista to play the outfield. Even though the defense has diminished, the potential of Bautista’s bat plays anywhere.
It really felt like this was a game of “contract chicken” as those Baltimore and Cleveland rumours may have simply been a way to expedite contract talks with the Blue Jays.
I’ll have a much more thorough reaction post if and when Jose Bautista’s deal with the Blue Jays is finalized, but in meantime, there’s a lot of upside to bringing back Joey Bats for at least one more year.
The Blue Jays have glaring holes in the outfield, and even at 36 years old, Jose Bautista’s plate recognition and power numbers have yet to tail off. If used in the right capacity, the Blue Jays could do some damage again in 2017 with Jose Bautista in the heart of their lineup.