Jose Bautista recently commented that he hasn’t given retirement too much thought. The Blue Jays should allow him to close his MLB chapter in Toronto with a one-day contract, if he’ll have it.
According to Bautista, he “hasn’t really given it much thought” when asked about whether he was planning to announce his retirement, and also added, “I don’t think that’s necessary right now”.
To be fair, Bautista can do whatever he wants, and if he doesn’t want to file his official retirement papers with MLB for another decade then that’s his choice. He made enough money during his big league career that I’m sure he’s not too worried about his retirement cheques at this stage, and it sounds like he wants to leave the door open to playing again if the opportunity were to present itself.
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Only, I think pretty much anyone but Bautista (and maybe his agent) would agree that ship has sailed for the now-39 year old. He didn’t play at all last season, and he bounced around to three different clubs in 2018, hitting just .203 with 13 home runs and 48 RBI in 122 games. As good as he once was, “Joey Bats” is just another victim of a lost battle with Father Time, who remains undefeated.
Bautista will be best known for his role in the playoff races in 2015 and 2016, and in particular his infamous “bat flip” against the Rangers in their first run. It was a signature moment in franchise history, and unfortunately, probably the highlight of the Alex Anthopoulos/Bautista era in Toronto. Looking around the Blue Jays these days, there’s literally no one left on the roster from those teams anymore, and the front office side has undergone an overhaul from those days as well.
Despite all of that, Ross Atkins and company have to be aware of Bautista’s importance to the Blue Jays’ faithful. For what it’s worth, he and Mark Shapiro did bring him back in 2017 even when they wanted to move on, in part because they wanted to reward the fans for the attendance numbers of the previous two years, and Bautista as well. While that was a show of respect from the current Blue Jays’ brain trust, I hope they’re ready to extend another when Bautista is ready to receive it. It would be truly fitting to see him sign a one-day contract with the Blue Jays before he officially calls it a career.
I actually wrote about this idea back in February of this year as well, because at the time I thought maybe Bautista would be ready to accept that his career might be done. To his credit, he reportedly stayed in shape just in case, and talked in his recent interview about being focused on enjoying his time spent with his family, which has to be a great thing after so many years on the road.
From the way Bautista spoke about things a few days ago, perhaps he’s not ready to take that final step of officially retiring right now, even if it’s essentially a formality. However, something tells me that if the offer was made from the Blue Jays that he would accept, even if he might want to put it off a little longer. The nostalgic part of me is sad to think that Bautista still wants to play and the Blue Jays don’t have an opportunity for him, but hopefully they do have a one-day contract waiting for him at some point. It would be a shame to see his career officially end any other way.