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Tampa Bay Rays interested in Jose Bautista

Jon Morosi also reported that Bautista is willing to play a corner infield position.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays bats during a MLB game against the New York Yankees at Rogers Centre on September 24, 2017 in Toronto, Canada.
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays are interested in former Toronto Blue Jay and current free agent outfielder Jose Bautista, Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported yesterday morning.

Tampa Bay, the first team to have reported interest in Bautista this offseason, reached out to the 37-year-old last offseason prior to his re-signing with the Blue Jays, Morosi tweeted.

Bautista, in 157 games this season, batted .203 with an on-base percentage of .308. While he was worth -0.9 offensive WAR in 2017, dropping 2.7 WAR from 2016, his defense largely remained the same from what it’s been since 2014 (-1.4 dWAR).

The Rays have yet to have significant talks with Bautista.

Morosi also reported earlier yesterday that Bautista’s agent, Jay Alou, told him Bautista would be willing to play a corner infield spot, along with outfield and designated hitter, in 2018.

“He’s never said no to a manager,” Alou told Morosi.

In 2017, Bautista played 143 of his 157 games in right field, with with 11 games as DH and eight at third base. Bautista, when he first spent considerable time at the major-league level in 2006, spent 57 of his games in centre field, and 33 at third base.

Baseball-Reference projects Bautista to perform better than he did in 2017, batting .222 and getting on-base at a rate of .334. The numbers predicted are similar to Bautista’s 2016 season, albeit slightly worse.