Things change in a year, just ask Jose Bautista.
A year ago we were talking about what kind of extension to offer him. Peter Gammons was telling us how Jose was going to play into his 40’s, because of his workout regiment (I really think Gammons was trying to sell Red Sox fans on the idea of signing him when he became a free agent). Everything was bright and cheery.
Then Jose has a down season, filled with injuries, and he can’t even get a guaranteed multi-year contract.
There is a Blue Rodeo song called Bad Timing, which sounds like Bautista’s life with contract talks. Last time Jose’s contract came up was after the 2011 season. 2010 was his first really good season. Jose signed a 5 year, $65 million contract. At the time it seemed like a risk for the team. Who knew if his 2010 season was his new level of play or if he would go back to the level he was before 2010? If he had signed a 1-year contract, he could have gotten a lot more money after the 2011 season.
If he had signed a 4-year contract....he would have had been in a much better place to enter free agency last year. He, likely, would have gotten a 4 or 5-year contract for a lot more money than he signed for this year.
But then...I don’t think Jose has to worry about how he’s going to put food on the table.
Will Jose have a ‘bounce back’ season this year?
That would be dependent on Jose avoiding injuries.
I think it is great that he’s doing what he can to extend his baseball life with exercise, stretching and nutrition, but he’s getting older, playing outfield everyday (even with our improved turf) isn’t easy on an aging body.
How can we keep him healthy?
Jose is 36 now. He doesn’t have the range he once had in the the outfield and his arm has gone from being one of the best in the league to being, well, pretty poor.
If we really wanted to keep him healthy, (and improve our defense) we’d move him to DH or first base. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem like it is about to happen. Kendrys Morales is going to DH and it looks like Steve Pearce and Justin Smoak are going to platoon at first (at least until everyone’s tired of running Smoak out there).
If we are going to use him in the outfield, we really have to make a plan to rest him often. He needs to DH some (or play first some). Or sit him some. Get him out of the outfield once or twice a week. Don’t wait for him to get injured and then DH him, get in front of it. We need a plan ahead of time and we need to follow it.
I’d also like them to get him playing time at first base during spring training. Don’t make him learn on the job. Let him learn the position in the calm of spring training. Don’t throw him into it mid-season.
Or, you know, we don’t owe him anything after this season, we could just throw him out there everyday and hope for the best.
Do we want him leading off?
That’s one of those questions that is dependent on who else is on the roster. I don’t mind him hitting leadoff. He gets on base.
I don’t see anyone on the roster that I’d rather have leadoff. I don’t want Ezequiel Carrera batting leadoff. I’m not excited by the idea of Devon Travis hitting leadoff.
I am looking forward to watching him. I think he’ll be motivated to play well (not that he’s ever lacked motivation). I think he should see his career in a whole new light. A year ago he was talking about playing into his 40’s. I would think that now he sees that his career could end much sooner. I think you get a new perspective on things when you know that the end is coming soon.
I’m glad Jose is back. He has given us so many great moments, I’m not ready to have that end.