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:
#Rays interested in free agent José Bautista, sources say, although there hasn’t been substantive dialogue yet. Rays had some discussions with Bautista last winter before he returned to Toronto. @MLB @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 15, 2017
I very much saw this coming:
That press conference next May in the bowels of the Trop is gonna be tough to watch.
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) August 1, 2017
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!)