Tag: Jose Bautista

Jose Bautista’s $18M Re-Up Keeps Blue Jays Near Top of AL East

Jose Bautista may have entered the free-agent waters thinking they would take him to a better, richer harbor. Instead, they’ve pushed him right back from where he came.

And that’s not so bad.

A move that has seemed inevitable finally came to fruition Tuesday, when Bautista re-signed with the Toronto Blue Jays on a deal that, as reported by TSN’s Steve Phillips (via MLB Network Radio), will pay him at least $18 million and perhaps as much as $60 million:

Since mutual options are rarely exercised, however, it’s likely this pact will end up costing the Blue Jays just the $18 million.

That’s only slightly more than the $17.2 million they would have paid Bautista in 2017 if he’d accepted the club’s qualifying offer in November. And to hear Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tell it, Toronto also got Bautista back for less than what was available elsewhere.

For Bautista, who’s hit an MLB-high 249 home runs since 2010, $18 million is a nice raise over the $14 million he earned each year from 2012 to 2016. So, at least there’s that.

And thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, the Blue Jays won’t get to make him another qualifying offer if he chooses to test the open market again after 2017. And since Bautista won’t be tied to draft-pick compensation, the big payday that eluded him this winter could come next winter.

Of course, draft-pick compensation was just one thing that limited Bautista’s marketability this winter.

Another was certainly the specter of decline hanging over Bautista’s head. He’s 36 years old and coming off a season in which he managed just an .817 OPS and 22 home runs—his worst marks since the days before his big breakout in 2010. He also rated well below average on defense in right field.

There may be no fixing his defense. Even when Bautista was an asset in right field, it had as much to do with his arm as anything else. He acknowledged early in 2016 that said arm was still compromised from a shoulder injury that cropped up at the end of 2015.

“It’s using it when you need to, having the history of the injury last year, on an unnecessary throw, there’s more of a conscious effort on my end to just make the necessary throw,” he told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

In an alternate universe, the Blue Jays could ignore this question mark by hiding Bautista at designated hitter. But with newcomer Kendrys Morales locked into that position, that’s not going to happen.

The bright side for Toronto is that it could afford to take a defensive hit this winter. Per Baseball Prospectus, it had the American League‘s most efficient defense in 2016. Even if the Blue Jays do take a few steps back in 2017, they could still be very good at turning batted balls into outs.

Of course, worse defense might require them to take a step forward (or at least avoid a step backward) on offense.

For that, Bautista and Morales will have to make up for what Toronto lost with the departure of Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders. Encarnacion left a hole the size of an .886 OPS and 42 home runs. Saunders left a hole the size of an .815 OPS and 24 home runs.

Morales should replace Saunders’ production, so the pressure will be on Bautista to put 2016 behind him and be more like the guy who averaged a .945 OPS and 38 homers per year from 2010 to 2015.

Guaranteed? Not quite.

As ESPN.com’s Keith Law expressed in his free-agent rankings, the real concern is that Bautista’s 2016 drop-off was a case of his age seeping into his bat and slowing it down. Per Baseball Savant, Bautista’s modest (for him, anyway) .463 slugging percentage against fastballs lends some truth to that.

But as far as offseason gambles go, there have been far dumber bets placed than this one.

While there’s no ignoring the various concerns that popped up during Bautista’s 2016 season, his core skills remained very much intact. He continued to show a fantastic eye, keeping his walk rate right where it needed to be. He also continued hitting the snot out of the ball, finishing with a career-high 41 hard-hit percentage.

Which brings us to the ZiPS projections. According to FanGraphs, Bautista will post an .868 OPS and hit 27 home runs in 2017. Not bad. And possibly conservative, to boot.

All of the above shows the Blue Jays are a better team with Bautista than they are without him. Not drastically better, but better.

If nothing else, they’re better enough to make an AL East race that didn’t look all that interesting before Tuesday look more interesting. The Boston Red Sox should still be counted among the league’s (surprisingly large) collection of clear division favorites, but now the Blue Jays have enough weapons to give them a run for their money.

Bautista and Morales alongside Josh Donaldson, Troy Tulowitzki, Russell Martin and Devon Travis is a good lineup. A starting rotation headed by Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada must be viewed as one of the league’s best. In the bullpen, Toronto still has the criminally underrated Roberto Osuna.

Bautista could well be playing in his third postseason with the Blue Jays come October. Once there, he’s shown he knows what to do.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs.

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Jose Bautista, Blue Jays Agree on New Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Jose Bautista‘s search for a contract has come to an end after he agreed to a deal that will keep him with the Toronto Blue Jays; the team made the announcement Wednesday:

Baseball Prospectus Toronto first reported Bautista’s agreement with the Blue Jays on Tuesday, noting the deal includes various incentives and a mutual option. 

On Tuesday, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported Bautista will earn $18 million with a one-year guarantee and that options in the contract could extend it to $60 million for three years. Heyman noted the salary is higher than the $17.2 million he would have received if he accepted Toronto’s qualifying offer in November.

Richard Justice of MLB.com reported Bautista and the Blue Jays confirmed the contract numbers, and the deal includes a mutual option worth $17 million in 2018 and a vesting option worth $20 million in 2019.

After having a journeyman run early in his career, Bautista turned into a superstar with the Blue Jays in 2010 when he hit 54 home runs and finished fourth in American League MVP voting. He subsequently finished in the top 10 of MVP voting three times in the next five years.

It appeared the marriage between Bautista and the Blue Jays was coming to an end when his contract expired after the 2016 season.

The Blue Jays jumped on free agents Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce, who has the versatility to play at first base or in the outfield. That eagerness led to the departure of Edwin Encarnacion.

Bautista kept twisting in the wind because it wasn’t clear where his market started. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported Sunday the Baltimore Orioles had been in contact with the six-time All-Star.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Saturday the Cleveland Indians, who signed Encarnacion earlier this offseason, were keeping in touch with Bautista if his price fell to a certain undisclosed point.

Instead, as the Blue Jays faced the possibility of going into a season with Ezequiel Carrera as their starting right fielder, the front office decided the best course of action would be to bring Bautista back.

Under most circumstances, a player with Bautista’s resume would warrant a large extension without hesitation, but he turned 36 in October, and his numbers declined in 2016 for the second consecutive year.

The Blue Jays did have a change in the front office last offseason when Mark Shapiro officially took over as team president in October after previously working with the Indians.

Ross Atkins became Toronto’s general manager when Alex Anthopoulos left the organization after being unable to reach a contract extension despite leading the team to its first postseason in 22 years in 2015.

Shapiro came from a situation in Cleveland that required him to be diligent in free agency because the Indians couldn’t compete with teams for big contracts, minus their open wallet for Encarnacion this winter. It did lead to an exodus of talent, though it also helped him avoid giving out some of the long-term deals that have backfired on other teams in the past.

By waiting out Bautista’s market, Shapiro played the market into his favor since the veteran outfielder was coming off a down year in 2016. The Blue Jays didn’t have to overextend themselves on a long-term deal for a player in his late 30s, while Bautista gets to stay in a place he’s comfortable.

After Bautista turned his career around in Toronto, it’s fitting he will have at least one more year with a team capable of competing for a playoff spot in the American League. He’s been the face of the franchise for years and will have more time to bring a championship to the city.

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Jose Bautista Is the Free-Agent Slugger with No Clear MLB Home

If you were to cross paths with Jose Bautista and offer him a penny to play a game of catch, you might have just made the leading offer for his services.

This is, of course, a gross exaggeration of how bad a time the slugger is having on the free-agent market. But by all accounts, he’s not having a good time. The MLB offseason is a week removed from the winter meetings, and his final destination is as much a mystery now as it was when his odyssey began in earnest on Nov. 14.

That was the day Bautista, 36, and fellow veteran slugger Edwin Encarnacion rejected qualifying offers from the Toronto Blue Jays. That meant spurning a $17.2 million salary for 2017 in favor of the riches the open market typically showers on anyone with a powerful bat. With an MLB-high 249 home runs since 2010, Bautista surely fits the bill.

But rather than run to embrace him, teams have avoided him like Adrian Beltre avoids head rubs.

The Boston Red Sox could have signed Bautista to fill David Ortiz’s designated-hitter shoes and to take aim at the Green Monster. That’s apparently what Bautista was hoping for, as Peter Gammons reported at Gammons Daily this week that he “wanted to work something out” with Boston.

But that didn’t pan out. The Red Sox took care of that opening when they signed Mitch Moreland to play first base and bumped Hanley Ramirez to DH.

But then, maybe the Red Sox weren’t the best fit for Bautista anyway. Maybe he would fit best with a club that could use him at DH and in right field, where he’s been a mainstay since 2010. No three fits stand out quite like the Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers.

The Indians, however, don’t seem nearly as interested in Bautista as they are in Encarnacion, who Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports rightfully highlighted as a perfect fit for them.

As for the Orioles, it seems even their front office can neither forget nor forgive the activities Bautista has been known to engage in when he’s not hitting dingers. Here’s general manager Dan Duquette, via Blue Jays play-by-play man Mike Wilner:

There may be a similar sentiment in Texas. Conversations between the Rangers and Bautista’s agent didn’t go anywhere, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegramvia ESPN.com (the Wilson article has since been deleted). Maybe the Rangers couldn’t guarantee Rougned Odor wouldn’t punch Bautista again.

With all the clear fits seemingly off the board, it’s on to the merely possible fits. Jon Paul Morosi of MLB.com reported this week that there’s not much going on there either. The New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers aren’t particularly interested. The Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies might be able to use Bautista, but neither is in a hurry to win.

The sheer dryness of Bautista’s market feels like it should be surprising. Or at least, among the many things our pre-2016 selves would be shocked to discover if they traveled forward in time.

But in reality, well, this all makes sense, doesn’t it?

The open market does love to pay sluggers, but usually that’s in part because there are only so many of them to go around. That’s not the case this winter.

Bautista is sharing the market with not just Encarnacion, but reigning MLB home run champ Mark Trumbo, reigning National League home run co-champ Chris Carter and quality sluggers like Mike Napoli, Brandon Moss and Pedro Alvarez.

Then there’s the draft-pick compensation that Bautista chained to his ankle when he rejected his qualifying offer. Most teams would have to surrender a first-round pick to sign him. Only Encarnacion and Trumbo share that distinction, and they have two advantages.

One: They’re younger. Encarnacion is headed for his age-34 season. Trumbo, for his age-31 season.

Two: Encarnacion and Trumbo are coming off a healthier and more productive season than Bautista. 

Bautista’s skills didn’t completely diminish in 2016. He continued to draw a ton of walks. And by posting a career-high 41.0 hard-hit percentage, he showed he still has plenty of pop in his bat.

On the downside, Bautista needed two disabled list stints for a bad toe and a bad knee. This is in addition to a slow recovery from a 2015 shoulder injury that limited his throwing ability.

“It’s using it when you need to, having the history of the injury last year, on an unnecessary throw, there’s more of a conscious effort on my end to just make the necessary throw,” he told Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca in April.

This compromised the one valuable talent Bautista had on defense, so it’s no wonder he finished with below-average metrics for a second straight year. He’s likely finished as an effective everyday right fielder.

Stemming from a report by Rick Westhead of TSN Sports, there was buzz during spring training about Bautista demanding a five-year, $150 million extension from the Blue Jays. He never was going to get that. Given how much his value was crippled in 2016, it’s now fair to wonder if he’ll even get a third of that this winter, as MLB Trade Rumors projected he would.

The state of Bautista’s market is such that, as MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reported, the Blue Jays aren’t even willing to top the $17.2 million he would have been paid had he accepted his qualifying offer. His hopes for doing better rest on a couple of scenarios.

One is that a team with a protected draft pick comes calling. But that’s where his hopes are slim. The Los Angeles Angels need their DH spot for Albert Pujols. The Tampa Bay Rays have an opening but are eternally short on cash. None of the other teams in the top 10 is a good fit.

The other hope is that one of the aforementioned teams comes around. The Indians, Orioles and Rangers are the best bets to do so. But with draft picks hanging in the balance, none have incentive to offer more than the Blue Jays, who don’t stand to lose a pick, are offering.

Could the Blue Jays up the ante? Possibly, but Bautista can’t pressure them by pointing to a DH opening. The Blue Jays filled that with Kendrys Morales. Right field is still open, but the Blue Jays know as well as anyone that Bautista can no longer hack it out there.

For Bautista, the bright and sunny thought to keep in mind is that there’s still a lot of winter left. Teams can be talked into things. Failing that, there’s always the possibility of a freakish occurrence that provides a Prince Fielder-esque bump.

But the way things have gone so far, Bautista will soon be an expert in thumb twiddling if he isn’t already. He’ll find a home eventually, but for now he’s the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.


Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. 

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2017 MLB Free Agents: Rumors and Predictions for Top Available Players

The timing couldn’t be much worse for an aging slugger in MLB free agency.

Mike Napoli (35) and Mark Trumbo (30) are both coming off productive seasons, but they’ve yet to find new homes. Although Jose Bautista (36) had an underwhelming campaign, he still boasts an impressive track record. Despite that, he hasn’t signed with a team, either.

The wait may be worth it. Justin Upton didn’t agree to terms with the Detroit Tigers until January last offseason yet still commanded nearly $133 million over six years, per Spotrac.

Napoli’s, Trumbo’s and Bautista’s signings may not be imminent, but the rumors below illustrate that their failures to get new deals aren’t the result of a lack of interest.


Mike Napoli

Napoli registered career highs in home runs (34) and RBI (101) in 2016, but that hasn’t helped him in free agency, given that he remains without a team.

On Dec. 6, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported Napoli’s agent is holding out for a multiyear contract. Bastian added the Cleveland Indians were holding firm on a one-year offer.

In an interview on MLB Network Radio last Sunday, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti said contract discussions were ongoing: “We continue the dialogue with him, as we do with other 1B/DH options. Confident we start next year with a better roster.”

Napoli added a lot of power to the middle of Cleveland’s lineup, and “Party at Napoli’s” became a rallying cry for the team as it won its first pennant since 1997.

With that said, the Indians are smart to be cautious about signing Napoli for too long. He turned 35 in October, so it’s risky to expect he can repeat last season’s success at the plate. 

A small-market team like Cleveland can’t afford to make a mistake on a lucrative contract for an older veteran. The Indians learned that lesson the hard way after signing Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher in 2013.

Napoli has found a comfort zone in Cleveland. He would not only have an assured place in the lineup, but he would also have the opportunity to compete for another World Series so long as the key players stay healthy.

Napoli and the Indians should meet halfway and agree to a two-year deal with an option for the second year. Napoli would get his multiyear contract, and Cleveland would have a little more protection should his performance regress.

Prediction: Napoli signs with the Indians.


Jose Bautista

Bautista picked the wrong time to have his worst year offensively since his career renaissance began in 2010.

The 36-year-old had a .234/.366/.452 slash line to go along with 22 home runs and 69 RBI. According to FanGraphs, his strikeout rate climbed to 19.9 percent, up from 15.9 percent the year before.

Like Napoli, Bautista was largely anonymous in the playoffs. He went 6-for-33 in the postseason with two home runs, five RBI and 12 strikeouts.

In addition to his lackluster offensive production, MLB.com’s Daren Willman showed that defense is becoming a growing concern for Bautista:

On Dec. 6, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Bautista met with the Toronto Blue Jays, indicating the two parties may be open to a reunion.

MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reported that Joey Bats’ available options are dwindling. Morosi spoke to sources who said that the New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants have pulled out of the running and that the Los Angeles Dodgers may prefer a trade rather than free agency to bolster their outfield.

Bautista is a fan favorite in Toronto, and relying on Ezequiel Carrera as their everyday right fielder isn’t an optimal plan for the Blue Jays. Re-signing Bautista wouldn’t just be a sentimental move; it would also address what looks to be an issue in the lineup.

Prediction: Bautista signs with the Blue Jays.


Mark Trumbo

Heyman reported on Dec. 7 that Trumbo is looking to get $80 million in free agency and that the price tag hasn’t scared off teams that are interested in signing the 30-year-old.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Derrick Goold reported that signing Dexter Fowler wouldn’t preclude the St. Louis Cardinals from going after Trumbo. Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted the Colorado Rockies would be in the mix as well, even after making a splashy free-agent addition:

MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko didn’t provide specific figures but reported on Sunday that the Baltimore Orioles “are believed to have the best offer on the table.”

Age is somewhat of an advantage for Trumbo in this year’s free-agent market. At 30, he’s nearing the end of his prime playing years, but he’s still younger than Napoli, Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion (33).

It’s fair to question whether Trumbo can repeat his 47 home runs and 108 RBI, but outside of his time with the Arizona Diamondbacks, he has been a solid power hitter. Over seven years, he has averaged 34 homers, 99 RBI and a .473 slugging percentage per 162 games, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

The Rockies would be a good fit for Trumbo.

The Ian Desmond signing was a statement of intent by the franchise. Adding Trumbo to a lineup that already includes Desmond, Charlie Blackmon, Trevor Story and Nolan Arenado would give Colorado an imposing offense.

As Rosenthal argued, getting Trumbo would provide the Rockies with enough flexibility to deal Carlos Gonzalez for present or future assets.

Trumbo would likely have a better chance to contend in Baltimore, but the Rockies should be a strong suitor for his services if that isn’t a decisive factor in his decision.

Prediction: Trumbo signs with the Rockies.

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Jose Bautista Contract: Latest News, Rumors on RF’s Negotiations with Blue Jays

Right fielder Jose Bautista is set to become a free agent, but the Toronto Blue Jays will likely do what they can to keep their slugger around for as long as possible.

Continue for updates.

Toronto Makes Keeping Bautista a Priority

Monday, Oct. 24

On Monday, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported the team is expected to extend qualifying offers to Bautista and designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. As Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported Oct. 13, the qualifying offer will equal $17.2 million this year.

Scott MacArthur of TSN provided the latest update on Toronto’s plans for the two power hitters:

Bautista finished this past season with a .234 batting average and 22 home runs.

The 36-year-old missed time after suffering injuries to his toe and knee. He managed to play only 116 games during the regular season and appeared to be at less than 100 percent when he was in the lineup.

Prior to 2016, however, Bautista earned a spot in six straight All-Star Games, winning three Silver Slugger awards in that stretch. He also finished in the top 10 in MVP voting four times, totaling at least 35 home runs with 100 RBI in each of those years.

The right-hander has twice led the American League in home runs since joining the organization in 2009.

Whichever team signs the veteran outfielder will hope he can replicate his previous numbers after a down year that was mired by injuries.

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Jose Bautista Says ‘Circumstances’ Are Against Blue Jays in ALCS vs. Indians

The Toronto Blue Jays have been stymied by the Cleveland Indians over the last two games, but the blame might not fall completely on the players.

Jose Bautista hinted the umpires have been giving Indians pitchers favorable calls so far in the American League Championship Series. The outfielder explained Sunday, per Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star:

I’m having great at-bats. It’s just sometimes the elements and the circumstances that we have to deal with as hitters sometimes doesn’t necessarily go our way. But I’m not trying to really get into that.

All you have to do is go look at video and try to count the number of pitches they have thrown over the heart of the plate. It hasn’t been many. But they’ve been able to do that because of…the circumstances.

The Indians had some fun with Bautista’s comments on their Twitter account: 

Bautista cleverly avoided any specific mention of the calls, but it’s clear he isn’t happy with the breakdown of balls and strikes so far in a pair of losses to the Indians.

Toronto’s offense has struggled immensely in the series, generating just one run in two games after scoring 27 in the first four games of the postseason. The offense is 10-for-63 through two games, good for just a .159 batting average with zero home runs.

The Blue Jays have also struck out 25 times over two games, including 10 against Indians reliever Andrew Miller.

Bautista has been one of the biggest holes in the lineup to this point, going 0-for-6 with five strikeouts.

The squad will try to bounce back with its return home to the Rogers Centre for Game 3 on Monday. Whether the team gets more favorable calls or simply hits better, something has to change for the Blue Jays to avoid falling into an 0-3 deficit.

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Jose Bautista Comments on Blue Jays vs. Rangers ALDS Matchup

The Toronto Blue Jays and Texas Rangers will meet in the American League Division Series for the second year in a row, which means the Rangers are set to reignite their feud with Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista.

“They might have a reason to dislike me,” Bautista said Wednesday, according to the Toronto Star‘s Bruce Arthur. “I think I have a few more reasons to dislike them.”

The 35-year-old delivered the decisive blow that knocked the Rangers out of the playoffs last year, hitting a three-run home run in the bottom of the seventh of the fifth and final game of the series.

Bautista savored his drive with a prodigious bat flip:

The moment continued to irk the Rangers months later. Bautista and Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor were involved in a scuffle May 15. After Texas reliever Matt Bush hit Bautista with a pitch, Bautista retaliated with a hard slide into second, which sparked a brawl:

Bautista said he won’t let his emotions get the better of him during the ALDS, per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet: “I’m not looking for revenge. I’m looking to win ballgames.”

Odor also downplayed the possibility of any simmering tension spilling over into the playoffs, according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi:

The second baseman whose punch to Bautista’s jaw triggered a wild brawl between the clubs May 15 described the ALDS with the Blue Jays as “just a series,” and noted “we’re just trying to do our best and try to play how we’ve been playing.”

Lingering bad blood?

“That’s over already, we’re just trying to win this series and win how we play.”

Game 1 is scheduled for Thursday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Marco Estrada will start for Toronto, while Cole Hamels will take the bump for Texas. The Blue Jays owned a slim edge in their seven regular-season meetings this year, going 4-3.

Whatever happens in the ALDS, it’s unlikely to extinguish the bad blood between the two teams.

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2017 MLB Free Agents: Rumors and Predictions for Jose Bautista and More

The MLB postseason is quickly approaching, but many teams around the league already have their sights set on the offseason and potential improvements before the 2017 campaign.

After all, the World Series dreams have been extinguished for plenty of squads, leaving them with no choice but to focus on the long-term future. What’s more, even the contenders need to pay attention to the upcoming offseason if they hope to remain in favorable position beyond just this year. 

With that in mind, here is a look at some of the latest rumors from around the league and predictions for where some impending free agents will land before the 2017 season.


Blue Jays Sluggers Set to Hit the Open Market

As of Tuesday, the Toronto Blue Jays were tied for fifth in all of baseball in total runs scored, per ESPN.com. However, they may lose two key players in their powerful lineup this offseason.

According to Jeff Blair of Sportsnet, Edwin Encarnacion “is going to have a larger market than some expect because there are at least a couple of National League teams who view him as an everyday first baseman.”

Blair also discussed free-agent-to-be Jose Bautista, although he allowed that “more teams think Encarnacion can play first base everyday than think Bautista can still be an effective right fielder.”

Blair pointed out whether Encarnacion even wants to play first base full time will impact his free-agency decisions. Blair predicted the Houston Astros would pursue the slugger and noted “the fact Texas has no state income tax will help them since Encarnacion will want to keep as much as possible from what is likely his first and last big payday.”

Encarnacion will be 34 years old next season and does have experience in the National League from his time on the Cincinnati Reds (2005-09). However, he was a younger player at the time, and staying in the American League would give him the opportunity to prolong his career and continue mashing home runs as a designated hitter.

He can use the National League interest as leverage when negotiating with an Astros team that can use the absence of a state income tax as a selling point.

What’s more, Minute Maid Park in Houston has an inviting short porch in left field. According to MLB.com, the left field wall is just 315 feet away, which is likely enticing to Encarnacion considering he has at least 34 home runs in each of the last five seasons. He’s already surpassed 40 in 2016, which marks the second time he’s done so in that five-year span.

As for Bautista, he will be 36 years old next season and apparently won’t have the same market pull as Encarnacion to use as leverage.

That’s not to say a power hitter who drilled 40 home runs last year won’t generate interest on the open market, but his numbers have declined this year. As of Tuesday, he had 21 home runs and 67 RBI after drilling 40 and 114 last year, respectively. He also sported a .238 batting average, which would be his lowest mark since 2009.

The Blue Jays will lose Encarnacion this offseason and won’t want to watch another face of their franchise leave in Bautista. They will take advantage of the lesser market and keep the powerful slugger in their lineup next year with some of the money they could have used on Encarnacion

Prediction: Encarnacion heads to Houston; Bautista stays put in Toronto.


Lourdes Gurriel Attracting Attention from Notable Contenders

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball noted Cuban prospect Lourdes Gurriel already had “a successful open showcase” and will have private workouts with the Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and Miami Marlins, among others.

Heyman described Gurriel as a “shortstop by trade” but someone who is versatile enough to play at third base or the outfield. Considering he is 6’4”, he could move from shortstop to another position by the time he reaches the major league level.

Gurriel is No. 6 on MLB.com’s international prospects list, which said he is “a good runner with a good glove” and “athletic enough to play infield or outfield, which is part of his appeal to scouts.”

The prospect slashed .277/.362/.426 with 27 home runs and 23 stolen bases during six seasons in Cuba, per Heyman.

Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors pointed out Gurriel is subject to international bonus pools for the time being, but that will no longer be the case on Oct. 19 when he turns 23 years old.

“At that point, he’ll be free to sign with any MLB club for any amount, so the Red Sox will have a shot at him even though they’re currently restricted in their signings of players that are subject to international bonus restrictions,” Adams wrote.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported in July that MLB banned Boston from signing international players for a year because it “circumvented signing-bonus rules.”

The fact Gurriel won’t be subject to the restrictions is key here, especially since the Red Sox will look to take advantage of their limited opportunity to make an impact on the international market this offseason. They will jump at the chance to do so with Gurriel and make him one of their primary acquisitions before the 2017 campaign.

Prediction: Red Sox sign Gurriel.

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Jose Bautista Injury: Updates on Blue Jays Star’s Knee and Return

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee sprain.

Continue for updates.

Toronto Selects Contract of Junior Lake with Bautista Out

Wednesday, Aug. 10

The team confirmed the corresponding moves, which signaled another setback for Bautista.

The Blue Jays placed Bautista on the disabled list June 17 with turf toe, and the 35-year-old proceeded to miss 30 consecutive games nursing the ailment.

Bautista also battled nagging quad pain throughout the first half of the season—a segment that wasn’t particularly kind to him. Over the course of 65 pre-All-Star Game appearances, Bautista batted just .230 with a .360 on-base percentage, 12 home runs and 41 RBI.

His lack of discipline at the plate was evident during that stretch, as he compiled 49 strikeouts and just 48 walks.

In 80 games this season, Bautista is batting a putrid .222 with 15 home runs, 48 RBI, 63 strikeouts, 58 walks and a .349 on-base percentage.

And while the injury woes have hampered Bautista’s production throughout the 2016 season, they could also limit his earning potential this winter.

The aged slugger is slated to become a free agent at season’s end, per Spotrac, and it’s difficult to envision a contender sinking significant financial resources into a 36-year-old power hitter coming off an injury-riddled campaign.

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Jose Bautista Injury: Updates on Blue Jays Star’s Toe and Return

Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista suffered a toe injury when he ran into the wall during Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies. While X-rays were negative, he was placed on the disabled list on Friday. It’s unclear when he’ll return to the field.

Continue for updates.

Bautista Injury Details Revealed

Saturday, June 18

Bautista underwent an MRI on his left foot on Friday, and the Blue Jays are giving the results to a specialist for further examination, according to Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet, who added Bautista is currently in a walking boot. 

On Saturday, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com reported Bautista will travel to Charlotte on Monday to be evaluated by a specialist.

Bautista Sent for X-Rays

Thursday, June 16

Chisholm reported the outfielder was experiencing “left big toe soreness” and was “sent for precautionary X-rays.” 

Bausista indicated he hyperextended his toe hitting it against the wall and knew he would be headed to the disabled list as soon as it happened, per Zwelling.

Bautista was noticeably limping after hitting the wall:

Bautista Remains Essential Piece to Blue Jays Lineup

Bautista has become one of the league’s most feared power hitters since joining the Blue Jays in 2008, highlighted by six straight seasons with at least 25 home runs. It’s allowed him to win three Silver Slugger awards while serving as a crucial cog in Toronto’s lineup.

The 35-year-old has remained mostly healthy in recent years, appearing in at least 150 games in each of the past two seasons. The last time he missed an extended stretch came in late 2013, when he suffered a hip injury. He also dealt with a minor thigh issue earlier this month.

If Bautista misses action, Ezequiel Carrera figures to pick up most of the extra playing time in the outfield. While he won’t be able to fill the power void, he gets on base at a solid clip and gives the Jays a little more speed on the basepaths.

While the Toronto offense is probably going to see a dip in production during Bautista’s absence, it has enough depth to prevent a major drop-off. The team will hope he’s able to return to his usually durable ways once he’s back to full strength.


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