The Blue Jays appear to be entertaining a reunion with free agent slugger Jose Bautista. In fact, Hazel Mae of Sportsnet tells us that Bautista's camp met with the Blue Jays this afternoon. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports goes on to say that Toronto's call came right after the Indians expressed interest, and that the Jays are now back in talks with him.
Bautista, 36, is coming off a bit of a down season, but boasts a strong on-base percentage year after year. His .234 batting average was his lowest mark as a Blue Jay, and his power took a sharp decline in the process. Despite this decline, his ability to get on-base continues to make him a strong option at the top of the lineup, and a bounce-back season would make him one of the better hitters in all of baseball.
With Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce already in the fold, Bautista would likely see plenty of playing time in right field. Unfortunately, his defensive ability grades out as below average at this point of his career, as he's been worth -11 defensive runs saved over the last two seasons. Another defensive metric, ultimate zone rating, puts him at -11.2 defensive runs per 150 games, so there are certainly concerns about his defence, especially if he is given a multi-year contract.
Heyman also tells us that the Orioles aren't interested on this front:
Orioles prefer to keep draft, too, but to explain why Bautista doesn't fit, they told JB camp: O's fans just don't like him— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 7, 2016
Steve Pearce played just 84 innings in the outfield last season, but could potentially move to left field if Bautista is signed. It's unclear which player would play first base, and the Blue Jays could even end up rotating between the two. Based on the comments made from Ross Atkins in the pass, I'd expect Bautista to get more time in the outfield:
Jose Bautista could be an effective defensive outfielder for a "significant period of time," Ross Atkins says #BlueJays— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) October 24, 2016