Blue Jays: Don’t panic about Jose Bautista (yet) Jays fans
It’s been a busy start for those of us who’ve been craving some news on the Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays. As always, though, not all news is necessarily good news. On Monday, Jose Bautista‘s comments set fire to the Jays social media world and left many fans wondering what the future will bring. And you know what? Rightfully so.
Keegan Matheson covered all of his quotes earlier, and Bautista made several weighted comments that are worth noting. To me, the most significant was his response to his willingness to negotiate.
"“I’m not willing to negotiate even right now,” he said. “I don’t think there should be any negotiation. I think I’ve proven myself and the question has been asked, what will it take, and I’ve given them an answer. It is what it is. I’m not going to sit here and try to bargain for a couple dollars.”"
The six-time All-Star just threw it out there for all to hear, and there are no takesies-backsies with a statement like that. He drew an early line in the sand and the ball is squarely in the court of Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins.
I’m here to argue that it’s OK and it’s not time to hit the panic button just yet.
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Like him, love him, or lump him, Jose Bautista is considered the face of the franchise and his future with the club will be a storyline that won’t go away until the situation is resolved. Many fans, myself included, would love to see a deal reached prior to the beginning of the 2016 season and keep the team leader and slugger on the roster for the rest of his productive years.
There are many valid opinions from all sources of angles when it comes to Bautista, but the bottom line is there are 30 teams who would benefit from a player who can contribute numbers like the 40 HR, 114 RBI and a .250/.377/.536 slash line, with some positional flexibility.
The debate will be endless while Bautista’s game, age, conditioning, and health will be under the microscope more than ever before. The front offices of other clubs will be paying attention and evaluating future worth, as well as half of Canada, and all the while Bautista and his agent Jay Alou will be trying to paint the best picture for his future, regardless of the outcome.
Blue Jays fans: This is a very good thing. As long as Bautista has been in Toronto, he has been a player who has seemingly thrived, and arguably craved being in the limelight. It was with great joy and little surprise to me that he flourished in the playoffs last year (I know you haven’t forgotten, but enjoy it again, as I often do), and he will be among many Jays who are chomping at the bit to get back to the playoffs and finish what they started.
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Bautista has shown little to no sign of slowing down at the age of 35 and we have no reason to expect him to drastically fall off the table in 2016. Barring injury, expect the veteran to end up with similar numbers to the last several years, in the middle of arguably the most dangerous lineup in baseball.
I can’t think of a scenario where he could possibly be more motivated to play well and that will absolutely bode well for the Blue Jays. This season. While the front office and the fans would love this situation to be resolved right now (!), it simply does not have to happen overnight and, chances are, it won’t either.
Bautista has indicated that he won’t be initially budging at all and is exuding all the confidence in himself that Blue Jays fans should be excited to see on the field for the upcoming season. Now, the Blue Jays can come to his offer if and when they choose.
It’s simply a problem for “future Jays”, and there are plenty of silver linings to the story. The bottom line to me? We’re about to see Bautista as motivated as he’s ever been in his life, and I can’t wait to see how hard he swings on opening day. Bring it on.