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Today in Blue Jays History: Jays Trade for Jose Bautista

Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Eleven years ago today, the Blue Jays traded Robinzon Diaz to the Pirates for Jose Bautista. It was such a big deal that we here at Bluebird Banter didn’t even do a post on the trade. We did talk about it later, but the day of the trade went by without a mention of the deal. It turned out to be the best trade of J.P. Ricciardi’s career.

The news did get into a post I did a couple of days later:

And Robinzon Diaz has been sent to Pittsburgh to complete the Bautista deal. So I guess we can take his name off our top 11 prospect list. I’m not sure what I think of that. Diaz didn’t have the best of years and likely saw J.P. Arencibia pass him by. But I thought he was closer to being Major League ready and we’ll need someone next season to catch, or we’ll have a heck of a lot of passed balls.

Missed on that one.

And a day later, I put up a poll on the trade. 48% thought it was a good trade for us, 52% didn’t. Noticeably, I thought he was ‘a middle infielder type’ at the time.

A few days later I linked to a FanGraphs story “Pirates Plunder Toronto” and said this:

Another story I thought I’d pass on is from Fangraphs, Pirates Plunder Toronto. Now I don’t really like the trade but to say the Jays got ‘plundered’ is over stating things a lot. I like Diaz but I don’t think he’ll become a great major league player. I think in the long run it will end of up a nothing for nothing trade. But we’ll see.

Wrong again.

It took him a few days to get his first hit as a Blue Jay.

And it took a year or so, before we realized that he should be more than a platoon player.

Anyway, I think we can pretty safely say that it was a good trade for the Jays. Baseball Reference credits Jose with a WAR of 37.0 in his Blue Jays career. Diaz played 44 games in the majors.

Jose was one of my favorite players to watch. He’s intense, he really wants to win, he seems to be great with his teammates. He seems to spend a lot of time giving tips and help to his teammates. Sometimes I wish he’d have a little more fun, but then he same ones that think he’s too intense, would complain just as much if he was smiling and happy.

He had more than his share of people complaining about him. I think that’s just part of the price for being the best player on a team that tends to disappoint. For some reason people blame losing on the best players. When I was a kid, I watched people blame Gary Carter for the Expos coming up short. I always wondered why people don’t blame the crappy players.

I think that getting Jose was a turning point in the franchise. We went from a team with no personality to a team that had some swagger. And we had a player that fans of other teams hated. As Reggie Jackson said ‘people don’t boo nobodies’.

I really can’t imagine (and don’t want to imagine) what those seasons would have been liken like if we hadn’t traded for Jose. I’m sure they wouldn’t have been as interesting.

Favorite memories?

  • Obviously the bat flip. It was such a Jose moment. We needed a big hit and Jose got it for us. And I think he spoke for all of us with his reaction.
  • I was at games in Boston in 2010 when he hit his 48th and 49th home runs of the season.
  • In 2009 we were at the Jays games in Seattle. It was Jose’s first full season with the Jays. We were sitting on the third base side, fairly low down. Mariners had a runner on second and a single was hit to left field (Jose played more game in left than right that year) and I figured we gave up a run. I was watching the runner and I saw the throw from Jose come in, on a line about 10 feet in the air and he got the runner (Kenji Johjima) at the plate. Before that I didn’t realize how good his arm was. Roy Halladay started that game and we thought that many it would be his last start a a Blue Jay, as the trade deadline was just 2 days away. As it turned out, he wasn’t traded until after the season.
  • Watching him work with Chris Colabello on his defense in the outfield.
  • Jose, quietly, refusing to do interviews with Sportsnet, because they did a feature on Devon Travis where they took him suit shopping and then had Travis pay for the suit. Jose thought it was unfair to, basically, do an ad for a men’s wear shop and then have a rookie, making major league minimum (even though that’s a decent amount of money) pay for the purchase that was pretty much forced on him.
  • Mostly I remember how intense he was.

Jose on the Blue Jays career leader boards:

Career bWAR position players: 2nd (37.0).

Offensive bWAR: 2nd (36.6).

On base percentage: 7th (.372) minimum 1500 PA (tied with Otto Velez).

Slugging average: 5nd (.506 behind Carlos Delgado (.556)).

OPS: 4th (.875, tied with Edwin Encarnacion).

Game Played: 5th (1235).

Home runs: 2nd (288, 48 short of Delgado).

RBI: 3rd (766).

Walks: 2nd (803, 24 behind Delgado).