Looking back on Blue Jays legend’s hilarious new career path that almost came to be

So what almost happened for Jays’ legend José Bautista towards the end of his illustrious baseball career?
Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago Cubs v Toronto Blue Jays / Mark Blinch/GettyImages
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When it comes to Toronto Blue Jays legend José Bautista, we all know what he did during his time with the club. The amount of havoc he wreaked on opposing teams with his bat, the amount of excitement he brought to the city of Toronto, and the amount of heart and determination he put into his play every single day were all things truly acknowledged and appreciated by the Jays’ faithful. And of course, no one will ever forget the famous “bat flip” home run that helped the Jays win their first playoff series in over two decades and becoming one of the most memorable moments in Jays’ history.

But what some may not know was the fact that he almost took on a new career path prior to his retirement from baseball. When his career started to wind down, Bautista’s overall production numbers as a hitter started to regress considerably. So much such that he went from being a permanent mainstay the everyday lineup for the Jays in 2017, to practically out of baseball following the 2018 season. 

However, Bautista didn’t want to call it a career just yet, not at age 37 when he truly believed he had some good years left in him. As a result, he actually pursued the route of reinventing himself as a pitcher, specifically in the role of a reliever. That way, he could potentially come back as a two-way player and prolong his career. It was the very winter of the 2019-20 offseason when Bautista was actually seen working out as a pitcher, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Passan would later add that he had witnessed Bautista toss a bullpen session where one source claimed his fastball ran up to 94 mph along with a breaking slider that had legitimate tilt. Even his buddy, former Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman, backed him up with a strong endorsement of his pitching, which really made it sound like he was the real deal.

Given that Bautista had always showed off his cannon of an arm when he manned right field for the Jays, it made sense that he could translate that into the smooth delivery of his pitches as a reliever. However, as we all know now, we never ended up seeing Bautista fulfilling that destiny. It was never fully explained, but with the COVID pandemic hitting around that same time, it may have essentially played a role in ending the impossible yet possible dream. Had it come to fruition, good chance he might have done it in a Jays’ uniform, but for now, we are only left with what could have been and perhaps just a good little chuckle to go with it.

Bautista officially announced the end of his career by signing a one-day contract to retire as a Blue Jay in 2023. In total, the six-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger batted .253 with a .878 OPS, 790 runs scored, 288 home runs and 766 RBI in 10 seasons with the club. Despite falling off the Hall of Fame ballot in his first year of eligibility, for everything that Bautista had done for the Jays and city of Toronto, the legend will always be one of the best to have ever played and live on in our hearts.