Blue Jays wisely bring back Jose Bautista

Updated: January 18, 2017

The Blue Jays reached an agreement with Jose Bautista to come back to the team for 2017 and possibly beyond. It is essentially a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2018 and a vesting option for 2019. This moves takes one of the very best hitters off the market and brings back a Toronto fan favorite.

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After losing Edwin Encarnacion to the Indians it felt as if the Jays needed to bring back Bautista just to keep some semblance of the team that has dominated the AL East for the past two seasons. That team had been one of the most fun in all of baseball and to see it go away like that would’ve been sad and possibly the end of the baseball boom in Toronto. That’s no fun so I’m glad that they were able to come to an agreement.

Of course, I have seen some people say that they should’ve let him go so that they could get that first round sandwich pick. This line of thinking honestly makes no sense to me. The odds of that pick ever giving the same sort of value that Bautista is likely to give this season is extremely low and you should always try to take the proven star over the unproven asset. The Blue Jays could still compete in 2017 and launching into a rebuild just because you have a player who might net you a compensation pick is stupid. It reminded me of the Red Sox fans who were mad that Yoan Moncada was traded. Who cares? Yo got Chris Sale! Sometimes as fans we get a little too into the armchair GM moves and forget to think about the team on the field.

Anyways, the Blue Jays are now projected for 84 wins at Fangraphs Projected Standings. This puts them right in the thick of the AL Wild Card race and the only likely contender to the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

Bautista himself is projected as a 2.9 win player. This is a fair assessment of him after a rough 2016 that saw him suffering/recovering from a toe injury. Still, he is not that far removed from 2015 when he was worth 4.4 wins and 2016 when he was worth 6.3. An improvement on that projection seems within reach and you have to wonder if the perceived “lack of respect” shown to him this offseason will motivate him in some way.

2009 28 TOR 113 13 13 40 .235 .349 .408 .757 99
2010 ★ 29 TOR 161 35 54 124 .260 .378 .617 .995 164
2011 ★ 30 TOR 149 24 43 103 .302 .447 .608 1.056 182
2012 ★ 31 TOR 92 14 27 65 .241 .358 .527 .886 138
2013 ★ 32 TOR 118 24 28 73 .259 .358 .498 .856 132
2014 ★ 33 TOR 155 27 35 103 .286 .403 .524 .928 161
2015 ★ 34 TOR 153 29 40 114 .250 .377 .536 .913 145
2016 35 TOR 116 24 22 69 .234 .366 .452 .817 117
TOR (9 yrs) 1078 192 265 701 .261 .382 .528 .910 145

He’ll slot into the Blue Jays lineup that should be a bit worse than 2016, but still pretty scary. Josh Donaldson leads the team and he’s still a perennial MVP candidate. Troy Tulowitzki had a nice 2016, Devon Travis should be healthier and Steve Pearce was a great under the radar signing. The Kendrys Morales signing still looks weird, but he should be just fine.

The pitching is the real question for Toronto this year as they way outperformed expectations last season and those things are often hard to repeat. Still, if Bautista can outdo his projection and the pitching can limit the drop-off the Jays should once again be in the thick of the playoff race.

Save the rebuild for later. The Jays are a fun team that deserves another year and this was the smart move.

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