Today's player: Jose Bautista
Bautista, 33, is not a free agent. He's not even "officially" on the trade market. But there's been some buzz lately regarding the possibility of Toronto Blue Jays at least listening to what's out there. There was this nugget from the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo over the weekend:
Rumors that Bautista could be dealt for pitching have persisted for a couple of offseasons but the Blue Jays haven’t wanted to break up the Bautista-Edwin Encarnacion dynamic in the middle of the order. The Jays are desperate for at least two starting pitchers and dealing Bautista may land them one. “It’s a name we’re hearing through backchannels right now, but wouldn’t be surprised if he’s available” said an NL general manager. Bautista was one of Farrell’s personal favorites in Toronto, however it’s doubtful the Blue Jays would deal within the division -- even though the Red Sox have extra pitching.
The Rangers need power. Bautista certainly has that. He had 28 homers and 73 RBIs in 118 games last season. Over the past four years, Bautista has 152 homers in 520 games. The right-handed hitter is a proven commodity and if he does indeed hit the market (in a year when there aren't a ton of power-hitting free agents), the Blue Jays could get a nice return.
Bautista is signed through 2015 with a club option for 2016. He'll make $28 million the next two seasons combined and the club option is worth $14 million for 2016 or a $1 million buyout.
You may remember that reports surfaced the Rangers took a look at Bautista at the trade deadline, when there was talk the Blue Jays might make him available. And there's one young Texas fan that would like to see Bautista here.
Why he makes sense: This club wants a right-handed power hitter who can drive in runs. That's Bautista. He's a corner outfielder, but has played a little first base too. It obviously wouldn't be difficult to find a spot in the middle of the lineup for Bautista. The $14 million per year isn't cheap, but Bautista does produce.
Why he doesn't make sense: The Blue Jays are going to want a huge haul, probably starting with young pitching. The Rangers want to be careful about how much of their farm system they unload and they'll have to pick and choose which "major" deals they look at in terms of unloading some of that talent. Plus, Bautista could also require some major-league pieces depending on what the Blue Jays want.
Bottom line: This may be one way to get a power hitter in the lineup as opposed to getting into a bidding war with a free agent. But the Rangers are careful with how many prospects and when they decide to deal them. I'm interested (you have to be, don't you?), but like anything else, it will depend on what kind of package it takes to get him. He's 33, so that has to factor into the decision. Still, he's a solid power hitter with a prove track record.