In a recent Bleacher Report assignment I listed 15 potential sluggers that Oakland could add for a playoff push. Some of the sluggers on the list definitely fell into the “wishful thinking” category, a point I made clear in the descriptions of each player.

I intentionally left Jose Bautista out of that piece for a number of reasons. After looking at the season Bautista is having though, and the overall status of the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East, I have given it a lot more thought and come to the conclusion it is not as far-fetched of an idea as I had originally determined it to be.

While researching the Blue Jays needs to see if a potential match-up could be made between the A’s and Jays, I came across a blog posting from’s Mat Germain discussing this very scenario.

Germain writes:

“I’ll examine one particular team that may or may not be interested in Jose Bautista‘s services in 2011 (my most likely trade partner evaluated for the Jays in such a team – for now) and could make a deal happen with the Jays as a result, I don’t expect that we can predict when a deal could happen, if it ever does happen. Only Alex Anthopoulos knows when he’ll feel comfortable enough to pull the trigger on such a deal, but we can at least take a stab at where that deal may come from, whether it happens in the pre-season or during the season…

The Oakland Athletics… Their lineup definitely lacks pop and needs someone with Jose Bautista‘s power to help drive in runs on a regular basis. With their young and impressive rotation, a slugger like Bautista could be the missing link between them and the playoffs. The A’s and Jays have made a few deals since Alex Anthopoulos took over… Lines of communication are definitely strong between these two franchises…

The most important part here is that they are ready to compete in their division in 2011, while the Jays are still another year away. So, this deal allows the A’s to make the absolute best push possible for a playoff spot while increasing the chances that the Jays will do the same in 2012 and beyond…”

Okay, obviously I only cut excerpts of the entire blog posting there to give you an idea of the rationale behind Germain’s thinking that a deal could be completed between the two sides. For the whole blog-post, definitely check out the link above, it is worth a read.

Perhaps the most important part of the whole posting though is the last line I posted. The Jays are not ready to compete in the American League East against the Yankees and Red Sox in 2011, while the A’s are expected to contend down to the very end of the season for the division title in the American League West.


Bautista’s contract extension would actually be a benefit for the A’s

While I initially viewed the extension Bautista signed with the Blue Jays this past offseason as a main reason the A’s would not be able to trade for him, I have now changed my mind.

His extension is for an annual salary of $14 million per year through 2015, with a $14 million team option for 2016. Bautista will be 35 years old upon completion of this deal, assuming his club option is exercised.

The Athletics offered Adrian Beltre a contract worth just slightly less on an annual basis this past offseason. The length of the contract offered to Beltre was five years, the same length of time Bautista’s current deal runs, and Bautista is a younger player.

Adding Bautista would ensure we retain the rights to his services for four and a half seasons, providing plenty of runs to our young pitching staff as they continue to develop and perform while also under club control.

His contract would allow the A’s to shop him around to other contending teams during the offseason or at the trade deadline each of the following few seasons if they fall out of contention.

To put it simply, he provides a boost to the A’s offense now, and can be flipped for prospects later if they choose to trade him again.


Versatility allows him to play multiple positions for Oakland

Bautista fits the Athletics position needs as well. He has spent time the past few seasons in the outfield as well as playing occasionally at third base (48 games in 2010, 28 games in 2009).

Oakland could plug Bautista into multiple roles, depending on what they give up in return for him in a trade. Bautista could take over the everyday role at third base for the remainder of this season and then switch back to the outfield when a position opens up this offseason (Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp and David DeJesus are all free agents). Bautista could also fill one of the corner outfield positions allowing the A’s to trade one of the current outfielders to replenish the farm system after completing a trade with Toronto.

Bautista could also see time at the designated hitter position to allow Bob Geren to continue utilizing the roster depth to give adequate playing time to keep everyone fresh.


2010 was apparently not a fluke

Prior to 2010 Bautista had never hit more than 16 home runs in a season. Last year he broke out in a major way with a Major League leading 54 home runs.

This season he is off to a fast start with nine home runs and 16 RBI while only playing in 25 games so far. He is currently batting .357 with a 1.292 OPS and a league leading 30 base-on-balls.

I still have my doubts that he will be able to maintain his current level of dominance of American League pitching, but he seems to be proving that he is indeed able to match his 2010 campaign.

He is definitely the threat the A’s need in the middle of their lineup.


What would the A’s have to give up to acquire Bautista?

This is the part of a trade for Bautista that scares me. His 2010 season and fast start in 2011 sky-rocketed his trade value for the Blue Jays, and it has yet to be proven that he can be counted on for this level of production annually.

Germain suggested the following names in his post as trade targets for Toronto: Grant Green, Chris Carter, Jemile Weeks, Tyson Ross, Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey, Michael Taylor, Adrian Cardenas, Michael Choice, Ian Krol and Fautino De Los Santos.

He was not suggesting it would take all of these names of course, he was just pointing out players that would be of interest to the Blue Jays.

My thought is that a trade of either Jemile Weeks or Adrian Cardenas, paired with Chris Carter or Daric Barton and either Fautino De Los Santos or Joey Devine would be enough to get the deal done.

Germain also suggested Kevin Kouzmanoff could be a throw-in to the deal to provide a stop-gap for the Jays at third base. If it saves one of the above mentioned players from needing to be included, then I am 100 percent behind that idea.

What concerns me though about trading a package of prospects for Bautista though is his sudden increase in production. I’m certainly not speculating that he cheated in any way, but I would like to see him sustain this level of production for more than just the first month of this season before I would part with any of the key prospects we expect to be contributors in Oakland for the next several years.

Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson and Gio Gonzalez would be my untouchables, as would Grant Green and Michael Choice. I’d be reluctant to include Tyson Ross in any deal either, unless the A’s top scouts and front office feel confident that he will be able to sustain his current level of offensive production.

Obviously, Jose Bautista will not come cheap though, so A’s fans would need to accept losing some of our top minor league names and perhaps a major league ready guy as well to plug Bautista into the middle of the lineup.


Why would this deal work for the Blue Jays?

The Jays could add three pieces that will help them to compete in the next three to four seasons at the latest, about the same time Bautista’s deal would be running out and his level of play likely declining.

The competition in the AL East suggests this is around the same time the Blue Jays could reasonably compete for the division title without major free-agent spending, using their farm system as the basis for building a contender.

It would not be a popular trade in Toronto, losing a star player never is, but it would fit the model Alex Anthopoulos seems to be trying to build his team around.



I’m still in favor of the A’s trading for a player with a more proven past than Jose Bautista. A trade for David Wright from the Mets still feels like the safer trade, and probably better fit for the Athletics.

Assuming that trade can’t be pulled off though, which many indications suggest it won’t, then rolling the dice on Jose Bautista would provide Oakland with a feared hitter that is proving he is a true difference maker.

The fact that Bautista would be under club control through at least 2015 and would have trade value for at least the next two seasons gives Oakland enough reasons to take a chance on Bautista and give up a few prospects to compete this season and build their lineup around him for the next three seasons as well.


Brandon McClintock covers the Oakland Athletics and Major League Baseball for You can follow him on Twitter: @BMcClintock_BR.

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