Jose Bautista is one of the most hated players in baseball and has been a nemesis for the Orioles over the years. His behavior, on and off the field, has caused constant arguments with other teams, and is perhaps a factor in his trouble finding a new team.
However, things change when your team is in need of an outfielder. Talks have reportedly broken down between the Birds and Mark Trumbo, and the outfield market has dwindled down to just a few big names. Bautista is still out there and the team could strike a deal with the 36-year-old if they make a push.
It was formerly reported that Dan Duquette told the former Blue Jay’s agent that the team wasn’t interested in him because, “fans just didn’t like him.” Duquette changed his tune a couple days ago, saying that the reports were “overblown about Bautista.”
The front office is worried about public perception if they bring in Bautista, but one thing will always silence the fans’ hatred: production.
Bautista had one of his worst years last season, batting .234 and hitting just 22 home runs. It wasn’t a good year for him to decline either, since it was his contract year, and he made matters worse when he declined Toronto’s qualifying offer.
Now the right fielder comes with losing a first round pick, a questionable attitude and declining production, a combination of factors that won’t attract many teams. However, the Orioles need a right fielder and Bautista’s bat could come back to life at Camden Yards.
The Orioles could probably bring in Bautista on a two-year deal for around $22-25M, which isn’t a bad deal from a player whose hit 152 home runs in the last five years. The first-round pick wouldn’t be an issue either, since the Orioles would get that pick back when Trumbo signs elsewhere.
Bautista and Trumbo could have similar production, which makes it logical for the Orioles to go the cheaper route with the former Blue Jay. The Orioles need to save all the money they can in order extend certain players cough Manny cough.
His big bat would fit perfectly in the middle of the lineup and would give the Orioles an everyday right fielder. This would push Seth Smith to a DH/fourth outfielder role, which would give the team more versatility.
Will fans and teammates like Bautista right away? Absolutely not. It will take time for the clubhouse to adjust to his “personality.” but he’ll want to change the perception that he is a bad teammate and prove that he’s willing to change. It also helps when Buck Showalter and Adam Jones are leaders of the team. Jones and Bautista have had their conflicts in the past, but as professionals, I believe they would squash them for the good of the team.
I don’t know about the rest of Birdland, but I’m all for letting go of my Bautista hatred if he ends up signing with Baltimore.
What do you think?