The Blue Jays are in need of a corner outfielder, and Jose Bautista is in need of a contract. This past season, news of Bautista wanting a huge contract turned heads in the organization, but less than a year later, the two sides could be close to a deal.
A source familiar with the team says Toronto ranks the slugger at the top of their list of available free agent outfielders. Other names on that list include the likes of Michael Saunders, Brandon Moss, Jay Bruce, and Curtis Granderson.
If the Jays and Bautista do reach a deal, it will be for nowhere close to the 5 years $150 million the power-hitter originally asked for during spring training. Bautista’s value plummeted over the past year due to injuries and underwhelming statistics. In 116 games, he hit .234 with 22 homers and 69 RBI, while striking out at the highest rate of his career.
Currently Toronto has Kevin Pillar, Melvin Upton Jr, and Ezequiel Carrera as their outfielders, so Bautista would surely add some much needed power to the Jays lineup. Ideally, the Jays would like to sign him to a one year deal, which the outfielder has expressed an interest in signing. However, Bautista has stated that it would have to be for more money than the $17.2 million qualifying offer he declined back in November.
It seemed very unlikely at the end of the season that the Jays and Bautista would find a fit in Toronto. But with the Toronto losing out on free agents like Dexter Fowler, Josh Reddick, and to a lesser extent, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holiday, resigning the fan-favourite could be the best option.
The numbers in the contract definitely matter though, as was seen with Edwin Encarnacion. The DH was the Jays number one option at that position, but they moved on to Kendrys Morales when they were unable to reach a deal with Edwin. If the Jays and Bautista are unable to come to an agreement soon, Joey Bats could be swinging for the fences in another ballpark.