Reports of renewed interest between the Blue Jays and Bautista emerged during the winter meetings when his representatives were seen leaving a meeting with Toronto’s executives, and in a way, a reunion could fit for both sides.
Toronto remains in the hunt for outfield help after missing out on Dexter Fowler, who’s five-year, $82.5 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals — including a full no-trade clause — was understandably higher than the Blue Jays were willing to go.
Steve Pearce will be able to chip in with some outfield innings, though he’s unlikely to occupy a full-time role in one of the corners. Given that Melvin Upton Jr. also figures to fall somewhere between a reserve and starter, there is ample opportunity to add Bautista to the patchwork outfield in a manner that satisfies any desire he still has to see time out there defensively.
Beyond his reps in right, first base and DH remain viable, though the presence of Kendrys Morales and Justin Smoak does clutter that picture.
From Bautista’s side, Toronto may be the only place in baseball where he’s viewed as the great Jose Bautista. His welcome in a market like Baltimore or Texas may be completely worn out already, while Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported late last week that Bautista would have accepted a two-year deal from the Boston Red Sox before they filled their 1B/DH spot with Mitch Moreland.
If Bautista’s appetite for a two-year deal remains, that timeline fits Toronto’s roster much better than four or five years. Such a deal would align him with Josh Donaldson, who is schedule to hit free agency following the 2018 season.