Blue Jays: Would Jose Bautista accept a MiLB deal?

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 1: Jose Bautista
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 1: Jose Bautista /

Now that spring training is basically upon us, Jose Bautista still waits for his next opportunity. My question is, would he sign a MiLB contract if it comes to that?

Looking back just two short seasons ago around this time, the Blue Jays were in the midst of discussions with Jose Bautista on a possible contract extension, and one that would take him to the end of his career as a Toronto Blue Jay. The story was a big one, and there were reports that Bautista was looking for as much as 150 million over a six year contract, although we’ll never know what the exact ask was.

At the time, Bautista was still one of the elite sluggers in the game and didn’t look like he was going to slow down any time soon. In fact, in 2015 he made the All-Star team for the 6th consecutive year, hit 40 home runs and 114 RBI, and slashed a solid .250/.377/.536 on route to an eighth place finish in MVP voting. Having that production in the middle of your order is the desire of any big league ball club.

However, the Blue Jays knew that Father Time would be creeping up on “Joey Bats”, and were reluctant to make that long of a commitment to him, even if he was the face of the franchise. Thankfully, they made the right decision.

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We all know the story since, Bautista battled injuries and could only play in 116 games in 2016, cutting his legs out from under him in pursuit of that massive free agent contract. While he was still looking for a multi-year deal, it was for a fraction of what he had hoped for a year prior, and ultimately had to settle on a one year deal to return to the Blue Jays, hoping to re-establish his health and his production. That didn’t happen either.

So now here we are on February 6th, and one of the greatest Blue Jays to ever put on a uniform is still waiting for the phone to ring. At 37 and coming off his worst season as a professional, the Dominican star is likely asking himself some tough questions right about now, and wondering if he’ll even get the chance to show people that he’s got some gas left in the tank.

It’s extremely hard to imagine Bautista hanging up his spikes right now, especially when it means his career would finish with the whimper that came at the end of 2017. I don’t know the man personally, but I would have to think he’d have too much pride for something like that, preferring instead to show us all that the Blue Jays made a mistake in letting him go, and that his elite conditioning can extend his career for another few years.

And when it comes to his pride, it leads me to another question: Would Jose Bautista consider signing a MiLB contract in order to get a job?

It would be a tremendous blow to his ego no doubt, but as the market continues to develop the likelihood of such a scenario seems to be more plausible. There aren’t a lot of teams that seem ready to spend on the remaining free agents, and you’d have to think that the money that is left will go to the likes of J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish, and the other elite contributors still waiting for their next gig. Is there going to be any money, or opportunity left for Bautista?

If he’s willing to sign for less than he’s worth, there’s a good chance that some team will roll the dice on him. Whether it’s a potential contender who thinks he could help in a part-time role, or a rebuilding team who knows he’ll add marketing value on the cheap, I’d be surprised if no one has any interest.

Next: What the free agency market says about the 2017 roster

It might, however, take a humble decision from the Blue Jays’ legend.