Article Written by Adam Corsair (@ACorsair21)
Well here we are. Another report regarding teams being "interested" in one of the (probable) free-agents-to-be that is currently on the Blue jays. More specifically, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweeted the following -
I mean, sure.
Look, as I mentioned in previous articles and podcasts, I'm not really opposed to the Jays dealing away the expiring contracts. I'm part of the camp that would rather they get whatever they can - even if it's a small return - for those that are leaving rather than getting nothing when they explore free agency. Although Bautista has his 10-and-5 rights, you'd have to imagine that he is likely to either A) waive those rights and would like to play for a contender (should a trade scenario arise) or B) won't have this mutual option exercised for next season... probably. That being said, perhaps it's time for the Jays to consider moving Bautista in order for them to continue their efforts of acquiring assets for the future.
Don't get me wrong - this suggestion doesn't come lightly! I've watched Bautista blossom from a general no-name to one of the most elite hitters in baseball in the past handful of years and in Blue Jays history. There's no question that his name will be up on the Level of Excellence at the dome and it's more than well-deserved. From his early days as a third baseman wearing the number 23 to the most reliable corner outfielders the Jays have had in quite a long time. There's no question that the nostalgic side of me would want to hold on to a guy like Bautista and see him finish out his career in a Jays uniform.
Yet, with how the season has unfolded, compounded by the talk of some sort of retooling of the organization (I hate the term, too), I think a lot of us have warmed up to the idea of moving some of the assets with expiring contracts in order to have a better chance at competing next season. Players like Liriano, Estrada, and Joe Smith are probably the ones that the Jays would be more inclined to move should the opportunity present itself, but I doubt that moving a guy like Bautista would generate a hard "no" from the organization.
However, it's important to note that the report isn't suggesting that there's any real traction regarding a trade or any sort of momentum from a club pursuing Bautista. Mere "interest" is such an ambiguous term that it could literally mean anything. Moreover, the notion that the Jays received "some feelers" regarding Bautista's availability for a trade leads me to believe that it's more due diligence from those that are currently in contention for a playoff spot than a hard push to acquire him. The point is, nothing is concrete and nothing substantial may come of this at all. There's a distinction between basic inquiries or feelers from other clubs and the Jays actively shopping Bautista. I hope you can recognize it.
Having said that, with how attached the fanbase has become to a guy that has been so ingrained within the organization, it's hard to see them pleased with the return he's bound to get. This isn't the Bautista of old, at least on the offensive side of the game. Thus far, with 415 plate appearances under his belt, Bautista has produced a line of .227/.340/.402 with an OPS of .742, 79 hits, 16 home runs, 43 RBI's, 57 walks, and 98 strikeouts. Moreover, with recency biases being a "thing" at the trade deadline, Bautista hasn't had a good July, to say the least. Thus far this month, he's produced a line of .193/.333/.333 with an OPS of .667 in just 16 games. This isn't to say he's a worthless asset, or that he has nothing left to offer; he most certainly does. He can still get on base, reliably, and possess power that would be valuable for a team that wishes to make a push for the post season. However, the return that Jays fans would ideally like for Bautista - or what they think he's worth - won't be what he's actually worth from the perspective of other teams. In other words, there's a good chance that most fans will not be happy with the return the Jays get for Bautista, mainly because of what he has meant to the organization and to them in general. Unfortunately, though, this is not how the baseball world operates.
This isn't a reason for the organization not to do it, though. It's just me preparing for the inevitable complaining that the return simply wasn't on Bautista's level. It's important to recognize that even though Bautista has produced some incredible moments for the fans of this team, he's not what he used to be and this should be kept in the back of our minds if he is moved (stress on the word "if") at the deadline.
Regardless, it is interesting to see the dominoes begin to fall, at least ostensibly. I still think that the players like Estrada, Liriano, and Smith are the ones that the Blue Jays will actively try to move - if at all - but I'm not entirely sure I can confidently rule out a Bautista trade either. Time will tell, I guess.
There's still 10 days of this left. Yeesh.
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