Photo credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
I’ll give Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post credit, both for the beautiful string of consonants in his last name, and for having reservations while passing along this turd of a deadline week rumour. Because holy wow, this is something:
Ok, this one is crazy and seems unlikely, but: person with knowledge says Nats have inquired about Toronto OF Jose Bautista. He is 10-5.
— Barry Svrluga (@barrysvrluga) July 28, 2016
I didn’t know the Nationals had a hole at DH! HEYO!
But let’s take a step back here and get a few things straight, just because this horseshit is bound to come up again before the week is over.
One, that the “Nats have inquired” literally means that they asked, “Hey, what about Bautista?” It says nothing of what the Jays thought of it, which means they may have laughed in their damn faces, or told them not to waste their time.
Two, as Svrluga points out, Jose has his 10-5 rights, which means he can block any trade — and as much as fans may want to invent convoluted scenarios in which he accepts a trade, why would he do that? To (supposedly) help the Jays at the very moment they’re telling the world that they rather send him out of town than have him as part of a very legit playoff push? A team that, by doing that, is taking a ripe piss on his free agent market next winter — or at least amplifying some of the questions about his attitude that will dumbly dog him as he looks at other cities?
I suspect not. (Though, as the first commenter below astutely points out, getting traded means Bautista is no longer eligible for a Qualifying Offer, and so will not cost his next team a draft pick when they sign him, which should add to his bottom line next winter).
I’ve had folks suggest to me that maybe a contract extension with the acquiring team would make Jose want to at least consider waiving his 10-5 right, but he’s been very open about the fact that free agency is “something I think everybody should experience once in their life if they get a chance to.” He’s not going to forgo his opportunity to hit the open market. Or it’s going to take something a whole lot more extraordinary than I’d bet most teams are willing to offer in order to get him to do so.
Three, seriously… a National League team? I mean, obviously having Bautista in the outfield is not a huge price to pay to have his bat in the lineup, but it’s definitely a price! The Jays certainly seem to have indicated they understand this, given their acquisition of Melvin Upton Jr. this week — though I don’t think they’re going to be too quick to move him off his favoured position.
But look, some people will tell you that the notion of trading Bautista is utterly crazy. That there’s no way to make the Jays better by removing him. Maybe I’ve even done that at some point! And that’s because it’s probably true when it comes to most scenarios. But we really shouldn’t be entirely dismissive of it. If you can flip Bautista to a contender for prospects you could use, in addition to some of your own, to acquire a front-line starting pitcher who is under contract for 2017 and beyond at a reasonable price, maybe that’s something you think about. Maybe turning a couple months of Bautista into a couple years of a similar, but lesser, and cheaper outfielder isn’t entirely crazy — and maybe there’s a team out there with a surplus on the horizon that there’s a fit.
I mean, it could happen, theoretically. It’s just… I wouldn’t waste too much time thinking or worrying about it — certainly not if I’m the Blue Jays’ front office. They wouldn’t be doing their jobs if they didn’t at least feel it out, but it’s tough. After you do the work to line up all the pieces, then have to actually approach him with a deal. And why should Jose leave his teammates and a place where he’s comfortable and the city where he’s an icon and the club steaming towards a playoff spot for some unknown situation he’s had virtually no say in?
Would removing the draft pick from around his neck next winter really be reason enough? Isn’t the dearth of available power on the free agent market not going to drive his market about as high as possible anyway, regardless of the QO? Isn’t he essentially QO-proof?
Maybe not, actually. So this honestly isn’t as impossible a notion as people want to believe. Dealing him could obviously help the club sustain their competitive window going forward, so obviously there is going to be at least a little bit of appeal there for the front office — especially one not as beholden to him as the previous one was. But finding a deal where the cost-benefit actually makes sense enough for 2016 and for the future, and then getting Jose to sign off on it? That would still be very surprising.
So let’s just… let’s just not go there at all unless something real actually happens. OK?