The Toronto Blue Jays have come to an agreement with Jose Bautist in a deal that could keep him in Toronto for 3 years. Here’s how it all went down.
SOURCE: #BlueJays and Jose Bautista in agreement on deal pending physical. Lots of incentives, a mutual option, and could go to 3 years.
— BP Toronto (@BProToronto) January 17, 2017
And there it is. After almost three months of wondering whether arguably the greatest Blue Jays player of all time would return to the only real home he’s known in the MLB, Jose Bautistsa has re-signed to your Toronto Blue Jays. One year, plus a mutual option, and pending a physical (it’ll probably be impressive). Other reports have said that the deal could keep Jose Bautista in Toronto until 2019. BP Toronto was on it first, but soon after a confirmation came from Ken Rosenthal:
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 17, 2017
To catch up: News broke late Sunday night for those of us on the east coast that the two sides were finally in active discussions following months of dancing around each other, just hours after a report of communications between the Bautista camp and bitter rival Baltimore Orioles. Reports even started trickling in that Cleveland was also in on the polarizing slugger, barely a week after officially introducing fellow Blue Jays great Edwin Encarnacion at a press conference
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 16, 2017
While this tweet from Morosi was likely just to insight some unrest within the Blue Jays fanbase, as he’s been known to do. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com brought the first legitimate reports that the two sides were finally talking, and likely in agreement on a deal.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) January 16, 2017
Which was later confirmed by the heaviest of hitters in MLB reporting, Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal:
Bautista and Jays are indeed close to a forging reunion and getting deal done. @JesseSanchezMLB was 1st
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 16, 2017
Sources: #BlueJays and Bautista discussing two-year deal in $35M-$40M range.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 16, 2017
The initial reports would have a lot of observers thinking that he was signing for at least two years with an annual value above that of a qualifying offer. Needless to say, the Blue Jays fan base is finally glowing with good news, and promises of renewing season ticket packages and purchasing of 19-branded Bautista shirseys are abound.
The Blue Jays corner of the internet blew up with tweets of bat flip videos, screenshots of staring down Orioles and Yankees pitchers and peak anticipation of the new season coming our way in just a couple of months. Nothing was completed on Sunday night proper, but many of the Blue Jays supporters went to bed with a smile for the first time in months. They finally had their GOAT back.
Not to mention the love shown by current Blue Jays players, who were quick to voice their elation:
— Marcus Stroman (@MStrooo6) January 16, 2017
Tell me it's true!?!? pic.twitter.com/Ysoy1iEkJx
— Kevin Pillar (@KPILLAR4) January 16, 2017
So as for that Bautista being a negative influence on the clubhouse narrative, that’s, uh, kinda bunk if we pay attention to the reactions of his teammates, isn’t it? Also, that Pillar tweet may be unrelated, but I wanted to draw everyone’s attention to that super-outdated meme that he seems to be really into.
Bautista will slot in to right field and likely the third slot in the lineup should he have a healthy spring training showing. While his play in right field is undesirable, Bautisita – even in an injury-plagued 2016 – reached base at a .366 rate while posting a 122 WRC+. He will remain an integral part of the lineup, with Devon Travis and Josh Donaldson setting the table in front of him while Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce will look to keep the merry-go-round spinning behind him. They won’t be setting any land speed records, but there are still plenty of runs coming in from that 1-5, and Bautista is a keystone in that wall.
Are the Blue Jays Done Spending?
Depending on who you ask, the Blue Jays are either tapped out after this deal or still have plenty to spend. On Monday morning, Ken Rosenthal mentioned on MLB Hot Stove that there’s more money to spend, though not a serious amount. The Jays will likely look to add a minor-league depth starter, possibly an extra outfielder, and have at least one spot within the bullpen to fill, not to mention the backup catcher. Will that add another big name? Almost certainly not – especially since there really aren’t any out there. It seems most reasonable that they’ll now focus on the bullpen, arguably the biggest hole at the moment.
Changes in the 2017 Outlook
Even with Ezequiel Carrera settling in arbitration earlier in the week, the fourth and even fifth OF roles are still up in the air. While Zeke is fine depth and a valuable player based on his speed, he is not an every day outfielder, and re-signing of Jose Bautista will almost certainly move him to a depth role with Melvin Upton, Steve Pearce and Dalton Pompey all vying for time on the roster. One of them needs to go, with Pompey and Upton seemingly the easiest pieces to move.
Does signing the pair of Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce, along with Bautista’s return mean this is the same team in 2017? Probably not. But, they’re closer than they were a week ago. While some projections of the 2017 Blue Jays season had them middling through to a .500-ish record, Bautista certainly gives them a bump given a rebound. While the move certainly won’t place the Blue Jays as the favourites of the American League or even their division, this team, and this player, have always thrived on the “Blue Jays versus The World” outlook. Bring it on.
*Featured Image Credit: Arturo Pardavila III UNDER CC BY-SA 2.0
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Roy’s earliest memories all involve baseball from the early 90’s and the Blue Jays dream teams. He became a Blue Jays fan while watching Carlos Delgado and Shawn Green evolve in Syracuse, NY at the run-down confines of MacArthur Stadium, nestled between highway and swamp. A lifelong baseball player, Roy still plays (P, C, 2B, 3B) in the 25+ Syracuse MSBL for the Liverpool Mets. He watches almost all games with his best buddy Sebastian, a five year old Pug, who could care less.