After a well-documented journey through free agency for Jose Bautista, the longtime Blue Jay is back with Toronto for the upcoming season, and hopes to keep it that way for the remainder of his career.
We’ve talked about it a lot this offseason, the whole Jose Bautista free agency, thing. Truth be told, we’ve been talking about it for a couple years now, but that’s what happens when one of the franchise’s All-time greats nearly leaves for another jersey.
After receiving the qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, Bautista’s market never materialized the way that he had hoped it would, and he ultimately chose to return to the Blue Jays, on a one year deal worth 18 million, and with mutual options that could extend the contract up to 3 years.
Thus far this spring, Bautista has looked like a man on a mission, which is a beautiful sight for Blue Jays fans, and of course their front office. It’s always a risk re-signing an aging All-Star, and despite being known for his outstanding conditioning, Bautista is on the wrong side of 35 these days.
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And negotiations didn’t go smoothly, especially when you consider Bautista’s comments he made during Spring Training of 2016. He never publicly let his demands be known, but there were rumours of an ask of up to 150 million dollars over 5-6 years.
Obviously he and his agent fell well short of that lofty goal, after an injury-plagued campaign. After averaging more than 40 home runs and 100 RBI for more than 4 years, Bautista only managed to appear in 116 games last season, and hit just 22 home runs. Not bad, just not typical Bautista dominance.
When asked by Bob Nightgale of USA Today about how he feels about Toronto these days, Bautista let it be known that there are no hard feelings, now that the process has played out.
Bautista also addressed some of the comments made about him this offseason, including quips from rival GM, Dan Duquette of the Baltimore Orioles.
"“I don’t really want to get into that, but that was very strange. I don’t even know the guy, so I’m not going to judge him. I’m not going to get involved in one-on-one battles with people I don’t even know”"
The 6-time All-Star sounds confident that he can stay healthy and return to form as one of baseball’s elite hitters. All the reports from manager John Gibbons and his teammates seem to support a healthy Bautista, and optimism for his performance this season. He spoke of elite athletes who have excelled in their late 30’s and 40’s such as Tom Brady and Jaromir Jagr, and expressed confidence that he can extend his stardom a few more years.
The slugger is participating in WBC with the Dominican Republic, and has looked locked in at the plate thus far this spring. Hopefully for Jays’ fans, he can continue to look like the player he has in Grapefruit League action, and continue to provide the middle of the order presence he has for nearly a decade.