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Are the Blue Jays getting Jose Bautista back by default?

ALCS - Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Three Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

A lot of life is timing.

My parents wanted to immigrate to Australia, but, at the time, Australia wasn’t taking immigrates who had children, and my parents had my brother. So, instead they decided to come to the rather frigid Edmonton Alberta, because my mom had some distant relative that had moved there. They never made the effort to contact the said relative, but that’s how I ended up in Canada.

With different timing, I could be writing about Brisbane Kangaroos of the Aussie Rugby League right now. I wonder if they have any rumors worth writing about?

Anyway, timing....

Had Jose Bautista become a free agent a year ago, after hitting .250/.377/.536 with 40 home runs and a 5.1 bWAR in 153 games, he would now be one year into a large multi-year contract right now. Likely not 5 years at $30 million per, but more than enough money to keep him in Booster Juice for the rest of his life.

A year later, after an injury marred season, definitely not a terrible season, but not a 5.1 WAR season. There isn’t all that much wrong with a .234/.366/.452 line, with 22 home runs in 116 games and a 1.0 WAR, but when you do that at age 35, and you really can’t, or shouldn’t, play the outfield anymore, it’s tougher to get a deal.

Add in that a number of the formerly ‘likely to sign Jose’ teams are up against the soft cap (luxury tax, or whatever they are calling it), and that Jose hasn’t exactly endeared himself to the rest of the MLB, and it is looking more and more like there isn’t an obvious suitor for Jose.

Life is like that, timing plays such a huge role.

Personally, I’d be happy to have him back. We still need a first baseman. Justin Smoak could (and should) be released. I’d rather pay him $8.25 million to not play baseball for me than hope, once again, that all the talent, that we imagine is in there, will finally show up.

The idea of Jose signing a one-year deal and trying free agency again is out there. I think he’s likely to have a bounce back season, especially if we get him out of the outfield, where he is less likely to miss a third of the season with various injuries.

But then, in a year he will be 37. If I was Jose, I’d rather bet on a two-year contract now, than bet there will be something better next year. But i’m a chicken.

I would think Jose would want to play on a team that has a shot at making the playoffs, and it looks to me that teams that meet that definition are not interested in signing him. After the last couple of years, I would think that playing on a team that has no chance to go anywhere would make it hard for him to get the motivation to work hard enough to have a good season.

Right now, I wonder if the Jays offered Jose 2-years and $30 million, would he take it? He would likely make another $10 million in sponsorship deals, many of which would dry up if he was no longer a Jay.

I’m not sure what he thinks of the idea of playing first base. I’d sell him on the idea that he could be a leader in the infield, that he would be closer to the action. And, no matter what he thinks, being a first baseman, with a contract, is better than being a right fielder, without one.

Or I would sell him on the idea of ‘hey take this or you might not be playing for anyone come April’. He might end up sitting around until he no longer costs the signing team a draft pick.

I can’t imagine what Jose is thinking right now. I bet he is wondering if his MLB career is over. He’s likely thinking ‘I’ll show them’, which would be very nice for whatever team does sign him. Extra motivation is always a good thing with Jose.

If I was in charge, I’d be happy to have Jose back, I’d tell Steve Pearce that he is my everyday left fielder, I’d plan to have some sort of platoon of Dalton Pompey and Melvin Upton in right. And I’d have money left to look for a very much needed pair of relievers to fill out the bullpen.

Of course, you could say almost all the above about Edwin Encarnacion.

The only difference is that (I think) Jose would settle for a 2-year contract and Edwin (I think) would still like 4 years.

I’d rather 2 years and a bridge to Rowdy Tellez/Anthony Alford than go four years and maybe block one of them.

And, Jose (compared to Edwin) could play in the outfield, if necessary, a couple of times a week, or for a month or so, if there was an injury. Signing guys with some positional flexibility seems to be important to the Jays.

I’d imagine the Jays are in no rush with Jose. They might be playing ‘wait and see’ with Edwin, hoping asking price drops to a level that makes him more interesting to the team. It does seem like that method isn’t working out very well, so far this winter. It looks (from the outside) that waiting it out isn’t a plan that has going well this spring.

I’m guessing they were hoping Dexter Fowler price was going to drop to a level they liked (but then I wouldn’t have wanted to beat the contract the Cardinals offered either). I think they were doing much the same with a couple of relievers that signed elsewhere.

I don’t think that’s a bad idea. Pick the amount you are willing to spend, and stick to it. Alex did much the same (until the last year of his time with the Jays).

Back to Jose, there are 3 things that could happen:

  • He could sign a short contract (1 or 2 years) with the Jays.
  • There could be a surprise team that comes in and signs him (it looks like the likely suspects (Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Rangers, Dodgers, etc are out).
  • He ends up sitting out spring training and the start of the season until he would no longer costing the signing team a draft pick, and they see a hole in there roster.

I get ‘notifications’ that Jose and Edwin are still in touch with the Jays every couple of days. I file these under the thought that a player’s agent’s job is to keep in touch with any team that might sign his guy. I don’t expect it means much.

Which do you think is most likely to happen?