TORONTO- Last week, the Blue Jays officially signed their franchise player Jose Bautista on a one-year contract worth $18 million. The deal also includes a 2018 mutual option worth $17 million and a 2019 vesting option worth $20 million. So potentially, this deal could be for three years worth $55 million.
Blue Jays had a huge void in the outfield and general manager Ross Atkins tried multiple scenarios to improve that. He offered Dexter Fowler to a 4-year deal worth $60. That did not work as Fowler signed for more money with the St. Louis Cardinals. He tried to make a trade for Andrew McCutchen, Charlie Blackmon, and Jay Bruce. That did not work as the asking price was really high.
The Blue Jays were so desperate to add an outfielder, they decided to go for the best available free agent and that player happens to be Bautista. The 6-time all star outfielder may not get a contract that he wanted (5 years $150 million), but he get what he always wants and that is to go back to Toronto to play for the Blue Jays.
The market for Bautista wasn’t easy given that fact that he 36 years of age. His defence declined over the pass few years. Plus he is also attached a draft pick compensation after rejecting the qualifying offer. The way free agency work in baseball, many teams are not willing to part ways with a draft pick to sign a player for the short term. Even Baltimore Orioles GM Dan Duquette admitted that he would sign Bautista because the fans don’t like him. The Texas Rangers would also be a bad fit for the 2-time home run leader since the Rangers had issue with the “Bat Flip” during the 2015 ALDS.
After turning down offers with longer terms and years, Bautista decided to stay loyal and continue is tenure with the Blue Jays. Bautista spent the last 10 season with the organization and has the 2nd most home runs in franchise history with 265. Bautista became an icon since joining the Blue Jays. With endorsement deals with Booster Juice and has been part of the community with the Jays Care Foundation.
Overall the Blue Jays have done an outstanding job by bringing back their franchise player. Bautista contract could possibly be a pretty good bargain for a guy that is a legit all star and produce a tremendous amount of power with a high on-base percentage. Bautista needed the Blue Jays and the Blue Jays needed Bautista. The signing doesn’t necessarily cope the loss of Bautista’s close friend Edwin Encarnacion, but it does satisfied the fans by bringing back a fan favourite. Bautista may not be an athletic as he was, but he does fill a huge need in the outfield. This team cannot enter the season with Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera and Melvin Upton Jr. being the starting outfielders. That’s clearly not good enough.
Now that Bautista is back, the Blue Jays can now focus on adding a backup catcher and bullpen arms.