Orioles GM won’t pursue Jose Bautista because ‘our fans do not like’ him

(Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Jose Bautista is a highly sought-after free agent on baseball's open market right now, but there's one team that's not interested … and for a pretty surprising reason.

This week, reports surfaced that the Baltimore Orioles told Bautista's camp that they're not pursuing the power-hitting outfielder because the team's fans don't like him. On Wednesday, the team's general manager, Dan Duquette, confirmed those rumors during an appearance on Sportsnet's The Jeff Blair Show.

When the reports were brought up, Duquette laughed before saying, “I told the agent, I said we're not interested. Our fans do not like your player.”

“Our fans do not like Jose Bautista, and rightly so,” Duquette continued. “He's one of the rivals in the division.”

That seems like a pretty silly reason not to pursue a superstar player who could significantly improve a roster. Fans often tend to dislike very good players on opposing teams, especially when that opponent is a division rival. That certainly doesn't mean they wouldn't like the player if he switched allegiances. Good players help teams win, and fans like winning.

So, while Duquette's reasoning is humorous, it's also likely not the only reason (or even the main reason) why Baltimore isn't in on Bautista at the moment. As one of the premier free agents available, Bautista's asking price is undoubtedly very high, and Duquette said that his stance “may change if the market comes down a little.” The GM also said that the presence of Bautista's qualifying offer brings hesitation.