There was some chatter on social media about Jose Bautista’s bouncing around to different teams this year, and if it tarnishes his legacy at all. That’s just silly talk.
Some might see it as a sad way to “go out” as a big leaguer, but for Jose Bautista I’m sure he’s thrilled to not only be playing baseball this season, but now suiting up for a contender.
After being traded from the New York Mets to Philadelphia on Tuesday, “Joey Bats” has a chance to aid the Phillies in their quest to play postseason baseball, something he’s got on his resume from his time with the Blue Jays. In addition to the regular season numbers put up while in Toronto, he’s had a few signature moments in the playoffs as well.
The Phillies aren’t looking for him to be a middle of the order bat by any means, but he’ll likely get a chance to start against left-handed pitching and serve as a pinch hitter off the bench. It’s not an ideal scenario for the 37 year old, but considering the Mets are nowhere near the playoff race it’s certainly an upgrade in that department for Bautista.
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You also have to consider that the 6x All-Star didn’t even have a contract when the season began, so to find himself playing meaningful baseball into September and hopefully October has to feel good for the Blue Jay legend. Sure, it would be great if he was still a star player on a big contract, but it’s a better scenario than sitting on the sidelines, which is how it looked like it might end for awhile.
The road to Philadelphia was a weird one for Bautista, as he originally signed with the Atlanta Braves on April 18th, and played 12 big league games before he was released on May 20th. While things didn’t work out perfectly for him in Atlanta, it was enough of a showcase to get him an opportunity in New York where he played much better and appeared in 83 games, even earning 1.1 bWAR along the way.
The fact that he’s now landed in Philadelphia, which oddly enough is the third team in the NL East, has some folks suggesting that he’s tarnishing his legacy by finishing his career this way. It’s possible he finds a team to sign him for the 2019 season and the tale will continue, but there’s a very real chance this is it for the beloved former Blue Jay. While it’s far from ideal, I don’t think anyone should worry too much about him ruining the way he’ll be remembered.
When people think of Rickey Henderson, do they remember him playing Independent baseball into his 50’s, or do they remember him as the greatest base stealer of all-time? What about Dave Winfield and his .191 average in his final season when he played just 46 games? That erases a Hall of Fame career, right? Do you think people are going to say that Bartolo Colon‘s 5.45 ERA this season will tarnish what he did earlier in his career, or even this season? C’mon, man.
Maybe if he desperately hangs around the game for a few more seasons you could say that, but at this point 2018 was about proving he still had something left, and I think Bautista accomplished that much. He’s not the feared slugger that he once was, but he’s proven valuable enough to carry on an MLB roster, and that’s an easier way to go out that not having your option in Toronto exercised and being forced to retire.
This way Bautista had a chance to go out on his own terms, or at least a lot closer to them. In Philadelphia he might even be able to pursue a championship ring one more time before he hangs up the spikes, and that’s a chance worth taking for a veteran nearing the end of his career. There’s absolutely no shame in that, and Blue Jays fans should be excited that he gets the opportunity to do that rather than watch him toil through the remainder of the year with the Mets.
It’s not an ideal way for the former face of the Blue Jays to wrap up his career, but it could certainly be a lot worse. As far as I’m concerned, maybe we should start cheering for the Phillies for a month or two rather than worrying about Bautista’s legacy.