If one of your worst fears this past winter was to see a franchise icon suit up for a division rival, you were relieved when Jose Bautista re-upped with the Toronto Blue Jays.
We’re now learning there was in fact an offer for Joey Bats to play with a division rival. Not the Yankees, Red Sox or even the Orioles – it was those pesky Tampa Bay Rays.
Jon Heyman revealed this little tidbit in this piece at FanRag Sports from late last week. Not only did the Tampa Bay Rays make an offer to Jose Bautista this offseason, so did the Cleveland Indians.
Tampa Bay made a “creative” offer to Tampa resident Jose Bautista that included options to make it a three-year deal. But ultimately, Bautista wanted to go to his baseball home in Toronto (and he had a greater guarantee there), where his best fans already reside. The Indians were the third team involved.
I recall hearing multiple teams had offers on the table for Jose Bautista; Tampa Bay and Cleveland being among them don’t really surprise me. After all, it wasn’t until the news broke of the Indians’ interest in Bautista that the Jays finally made traction on a deal with Joey Bats.
We may never know the particulars of this “creative” deal the Rays tabled to Jose Bautista, but it must’ve included vesting options for games played or something similar to what the Blue Jays built into Bautista’s current contract.
If the proposed deals were similar from the Blue Jays and the Rays, one can’t really blame Bautista for choosing to return to the Blue Jays. The familiarity factor combined with the Blue Jays’ favourable playoff chances likely tipped the scales in favour of Toronto.
Bautista’s deal with the Blue Jays could ultimately extend to three years and $55 million, but at this point, there’s very little probability of the mutual option for 2018 being picked up by Bautista or the Blue Jays.