Thursday brought rumblings that the Blue Jays were engaged in “active talks” with franchise stalwart, Jose Bautista. It may be a little early to plan the “welcome back party”, however.
Twitter was ablaze with excitement earlier in the week, with Blue Jays fans hoping to get a late Christmas present in the form of a Jose Bautista re-signing. Jon Morosi’s tweet started the excitement, and naturally Blue Jays fans jumped all over the news of a possible return, especially after losing Edwin Encarnacion to the Cleveland Indians earlier this offseason.
By now you’re likely aware of the situation, but here’s the skinny if not. Bautista turned down a qualifying offer of 1 year, 17.2 million, in order to test free agency. Like Encarnacion, Bautista has had several factors working against him on the open market, and thus far it’s resulted in the six-time All-Star still looking for his next contract.
Bautista will be 36 at the beginning of next season, has slipped defensively in recent years, and has battled injuries as well. That said, he’s still a dangerous weapon in nearly any lineup, and the Blue Jays are in pretty obvious need of an upgrade in the outfield. The fit is obvious, and it makes sense for both sides.
However, Morosi’s report was downplayed a bit by a couple other sources. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm was one of a few who reported that the two sides may not be as close to a reunion.
Chisholm states that, “Bautista is one of the names the Blue Jays are considering and that the two sides have remained in touch, but nothing is imminent”, which sounds a lot less encouraging than “the two sides are engaged in active talks”.
The Toronto Star’s Richard Griffin has a similar opinion, making the case for why a short term contract makes sense for both sides, but also makes it clear that nothing appears to be close.
"“The repatriation of Jose Bautista may happen in 2017, but for now discussions are not active”- Richard Griffin"
None of these reports are calling Morosi’s false by any stretch, but it seems that “active talks” may have been a bit of a stretch, and fans may have to reign in their excitement. At this stage, that’s like telling a kid they can’t play with their new toys on Christmas morning. I mean, look at how excited everyone got:
Beyond the memes and pleas from fans, there are many conflicting reports about Bautista’s demands and concessions. A quick search will reveal anything from, “Bautista is willing to consider a 1 year deal”, that he “won’t sign for less than the QO”, or even an under-the-radar report that the Blue Jays have already offered a 1 year, 12 million dollar contract (which appears to have no merit).
It’s hard to blame Blue Jays fans for being on the edge of their seats, as it’s never easy to lose beloved veterans like Encarnacion and possibly Bautista. Let’s face it, Toronto went through more than two decades without a playoff appearance, and the two sluggers will always be remembered as key components of breaking that drought. Couple that with a need in the 2017 lineup, and it all adds up to a hungry fanbase, willing and hoping to believe any potential good news.
Somewhere in the middle of all these rumours is the truth, and the reality is we’ll likely be waiting a while longer before the situation resolves itself. Bautista’s market doesn’t appear to be terribly busy at the moment, giving the Blue Jays leverage in negotiations. As the other free agent and/or trade options dwindle, it’s possible the situation could change, but it appears the Blue Jays hold the cards for the time being.
Whether the front office and Bautista’s agent, Jay Alou, will be able to hammer out a deal remains to be seen. In the meantime, don’t believe everything you read on Twitter.