Although of late free agent signings have picked up, the market has been very hard for players during this offseason, especially for those free agents considered to be second and third tier, and ones nearing the end of their Major League Baseball careers. Teams are not dishing out the cash for players considered to be “complementary.”
One of those players is veteran slugger and longtime Toronto Blue Jays player Jose Bautista. He is still unsigned as games during spring training start. Bautista wants to keep playing and is looking at one team in general. A report out of Tampa Bay says that Bautista is very interested in signing with the Rays.
Tampa Bay is thought to be looking for another hitter who bats right and plays the outfield and one option might be the 37-year old Bautista who last season did not have a very good year with the Blue Jays. Bautista has lived in Tampa for quite some time and is said to be focused, in good shape and able to play several positions for the team.
Several reasons exist as to why the Rays make a good fit for Bautista. First of course is that he lives in Tampa Bay and playing close to home is a big plus. In addition, the Rays like the Blue Jays are in the American League East so Bautista would play in Toronto a number of series and be given a warm welcome by fans there.
Even more appealing is that Tampa Bay needs to fill their designated hitter spot, which would give Bautista an opportunity to remain in the lineup on a regular basis but no have to play in the field with his aging legs.
Currently Denard Span is projected to play DH but Span can easily play leftfield instead of the expected Mallex Smith. If Bautista were on the roster the Rays could rotate Span, Smith and Bautista with each one playing on a regular basis, between DH and left.
Tampa Bay shipped out four top hitters this offseason including Steven Souza, Logan Morrison, Evan Longoria and Corey Dickerson. The moves were in part to save the team money and party to bring younger talent. Of course Bautista would likely sign an inexpensive one year deal and give the younger talent some veteran experience on the field and in the clubhouse.
He hit only .203 last season, but did have 23 homers.