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Rays Reportedly Interested In José Bautista

The Rays are going to sign José Bautista. I mean… obviously, right?

They’re perennially looking for a bargain. They currently have an outfielder named Johnny Field, who may or may not exist, in their mix according to Roster Resource. They had interest in Bautista last winter. They know him very well by virtue of facing him so often every year. He makes his home in the area, as it’s close to the Jays’ spring training complex in Dunedin. And… well… where else does a guy who barely qualifies as an outfielder anymore, and last year, in his second straight season of undeniable and fierce decline, ended up as the eleventh worst qualified hitter in baseball, really fit at this point?

I hope it ends well for him. I hope he has a bounce back in him and gets to play at Rogers Centre again and gets showered again with all the love from this fan base that he so very richly deserves. But sadly I’m not surprised to see him linked with a club that, when it comes to free agents, and players with actual, recognizable names and faces and star power (fading though it might be), pretty much has to take what it can get. And linked he is indeed:

I very much saw this coming:

Yeah…

Here’s hoping that tweet isn’t too prophetic. And you never know with this stuff. Carlos Beltran looked finished (albeit not exactly 2017 Bautista finished) after his age 37 season in 2014, then bounced back with two very good years and walked away a champion after this year’s World Series victory (following a season in which he very much looked 2017 Bautista finished).

I’d love to see Bautista turn these late stages of his career around like that. But I’d happier to see him trying to do so on the Rays dime (or, more accurately, on their roster). Maybe the Jays can add him at the deadline if he bounces back! They can offer Taylor Gurrieri and we can all pretend this departure never happened!

Just, uh, maybe don’t hold your breath for that. (In fact, let’s, y’know, maybe wait for him to actually sign with the Rays here first. Which he will. I mean, come on!)

  • Barry

    Sigh. Well, fine. If he ends up there, so be it. I hate the Rays, but I hate the Yankees, Red Sox, and the fucking Orioles more, so I guess it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if he ended up with my, um, favourite US-based AL East team.

    But my dream scenario is that he’s signed by the Orioles and when the signing is announced, O’s fans learn to love him, until the press conference, at which he is about to put on the Orioles cap and jersey and says, “ha ha, there was never any fucking way I was going to do this” and retires on the spot, with the “troll of the century” going down in baseball lore next to the bat flip.

    I’m a romantic.

  • drunk man walking

    “a club that, when it comes to free agents, and players with actual, recognizable names and faces and star power (fading though it might be), pretty much has to take what it can get”, and that with a payroll approximately $100M less, managed to win four more games than a certain other club.

    • The Humungus

      Yeah, it’s pretty impressive what an organization that has a front office philosophy of developing players can do after operating in that manner for a decade. They really seem to be able to just push out above replacement level players from their farm system annually.

      It’s almost like a team that didn’t have a top-down philosophy of developing talent in every aspect of the game for years fell behind their division rivals who did at some point.

      I’d imagine that the best teams in baseball were all probably getting large amounts of WAR from players who were homegrown and making below their market value, instead of getting them from aging free agents. What a crazy world, eh?

      • drunk man walking

        sarcasm about sarcasm about sarcasm….getting in deep here. Tampa has slowly declined after parlaying its outstanding teams generated by the tried and true (Hello KC, Miami, Houston, Cubs) tank-for-a-few-years route to the WS, into extended relevance by astutely trading elite players when they became expensive and astutely picking undervalued FA’s. Obviously a well managed franchise, but it is a lot easier to be “well managed” when no one, including ownership actually expects you to be a contender. Your mandate is simply not to lose money for the owners. Beyond that no one really cares much about results.

        • The Humungus

          Right. But they’re a “window” team. They operate in cycles.

          I liken it to soccer. The whole concept of a “Golden Generation”. You hope that you can have a bunch of top flight players hit all at once. This is how Tampa Bay, KC, Milwaukee, Oakland, etc. work. It’s a “small market” philosophy. Spend bigger when the window opens and take a shot at the World Series, because it’ll be a few years before you can make it back.

          This was the Riccardi philosophy as well. And it was handed down to AA.

          The difference now is that Toronto has a front office that has the resources to be competitive in perpetuity, and is now trying to remake the entire system to build on that. The Jays, however, are stuck with some albatross contracts left from the previous regime (Tulo, Martin), as well as recovering the upper levels of the minors after the “window” in 2015 left them void of talent. It’s left the team with a talent gap between what the minors can produce and what they have in the majors.

          The result is a payroll that is inflated by contracts that provide no surplus value (RE: WAR), while having far less surplus value from it’s pre-arb talent than a team like, say, the Yankees (Aaron Judge was worth just over 8 wins on a $544,500 salary).

          You’re right about the Jays and Rays being better at developing pitching than hitters. It was AA’s view (publicly stated) that you can always trade surplus pitching for bats. Basically the exact opposite of what the Cubs did. I think both clubs might have been better off being more balanced, or taking the Cubs route. I think that position players are less likely than pitchers to sign with a turf team as free agents, all things being equal (just an opinion based on perception, no facts to back up that assertion). But, it was always about “the window” before 2016, and it’s nice to know we don’t have a small market mentality in the front office anymore.

          • drunk man walking

            The only issue I have with what you have written is that “Toronto has the resources to be competitive in perpetuity”. The reason that Ricciardi and AA operated as they did is exactly because, from both a revenue and therefore payroll perspective, they were a small market team. You seem to assume that now, the payroll spigot has been turned on and will never be turned off. My long standing position is that payroll is dependent on revenue, and if attendance starts to follow viewership, which dropped off the table this fall, then Shapiro will be back in the position that AA, JPR et al were in. And perhaps the evidence that they suspect that is the case is that they are trying to remain competitive at least, rather than rebuilding to hasten the return to the “sustainable competition” phase. I think that last years poor off season slammed the window shut, and hamstrung the front office with even more unmovable contracts for aging unproductive players. But we will see how it all goes. You could well be right.

          • The Humungus

            I think that the front office has the evidence now that they can make the case that continued investment in the franchise pays dividends.

            It’s my belief that the reported $45M transferred to the franchise for theoretical TV rights (if that amount has been sustained from the initial report in, I think, 2013) represents a tremendous surplus value for Rogers. Based on viewership, the Jays should have the most expensive TV rights in baseball, and based on market size, they should be at least top 5.

            Now that it has been shown that success on the field translates not only to surplus value as a broadcast property, but a significant amount of revenue generated, as well as having a positive influence on the brand identity (Rogers is no longer Canada’s most unfavorably viewed brand), it’s very likely that the front office has the ability to maintain the investment from Rogers that they had last year, if not increase it once the franchise becomes a year-over-year competitor.

            I don’t think that the ROI on the Jays payroll is the 12-18% that most major companies look for, but I do think that it generates enough net positive results to continue. The franchise is worth 10 times what they paid for it 15 years ago, which will only increase if it continues to generate revenues the way it has the past 2+ years.

          • drunk man walking

            There are a lot of reasons why you could be correct, but I cannot help thinking that the rationale is that the investment is justified by the returns mentality is a double edged sword. If what you say about the increase in price paid for TV rights happened in ’13, it coincided with the Miami deal, when Rogers said they were increasing investment in the team. I have suspected that Beeston was fired because the investment by Rogers did not generate the desired returns. However, now that we know that it actually did, as ’15, ’16, 17 demonstrated, I guess then the only question is how patient Rogers will be if revenues drop. If they don’t of course this is all moot.

          • The Humungus

            I understand your concern. My view, as an accounting professional, is that Beeston, who was both an accountant and an advocate, sold the Rogers team on the increase in payroll as an investment that would generate a return. I understand your concern when it comes to that.

            However, if the increase didn’t generate the promised return, there would obviously be consequences to the one who prompted the investment. That said, once there was tangible evidence of a return, it immediately would open the company to a sustained investment. Especially if the increase in revenues also significantly increases the value of the property.

          • drunk man walking

            I guess the question then becomes what you mean by sustained investment. Because what we have now is a dramatically increased investment, $170M being way out of the range that was contemplated at that time, My thinking as a non professional is that in the high viewership/high attendance environment, that is sustainable and worthwhile. However, historically in Toronto, numbers in the 30K-40K/game level are rarely sustainable. If revenues seem to be generated by either an above 40K/game or below 30K/game environment, then there will be serious shortfalls if the high revenue environment is not sustainable.

      • drunk man walking

        And I might add that they have followed a very similar path to the Jays in that their strength has been developing pitching internally, which has then been traded for position players, and more young pitching to develop. If we ignore Beckham and Longoria, who were top draft picks many years ago, KK was the only home grown position player on the team worth mentioning if I’m not mistaken. Toronto, like Tampa has far more internally developed pitching than most AL clubs.

  • Player to Be Named Later

    I hope he gets an offer and snatches it, so that he doesn’t languish on the market like last year. He’s a proud man, so that mustn’t have been fun.