— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) January 16, 2017
jose bautista and jays are indeed in serious talks. seems likely to happen. @JesseSanchezMLB says they are "nearing deal"
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 16, 2017
We have written extensively on why Bautista makes sense for the Jays. Here is what we said back in December:
Despite his limited plate appearances, Bautista still had a perfectly fine 2016. He hit .234/.366/.452 with a wRC+ of 122 and 22 home runs. It’s worth pointing out that those 22 home runs came across only 517 plate appearances, which were 150 fewer than in 2015. Maybe I’m too optimistic, but I don’t think there’s reason to worry that Bautista is about to enter a steep decline. His wRC+ still put him in a tie for 16th place among outfielders, again, despite the fact that he was regularly coming off the DL. His OBP also ranks in the top 10. Compared to players like Saunders or Bruce, Bautista is a tremendous upgrade.
It’s worth discussing last season’s injuries, as they play a part in his current narrative. First, Bautista ran into an outfield wall, which sidelined him for over a month with turf toe. He missed more time in August with an injured knee. The toe injury came about as a freak accident. While Bautista might be more fragile due to his age, any player could have missed significant time for that. The knee injury was more concerning, but it did not keep him on the shelf for very long. All of this to say that his injuries from 2016 seem to be overstated. If Bautista can post a wRC+ of 122 in a down year that was riddled by injuries, then he should still be expected to at least reach the 130 neighbourhood when healthy. Prior to 2016, the story was that he takes tremendous care of his body, and that his health shouldn’t be a primary concern. The two trips to the DL should be taken in context. Bautista is still in especially good condition for a 36-year-old.
The Jays are believed to have somewhere between $20M-$25M left to spend this winter. It will be interesting to see how much they spend on Bautista, if the sides to come to an agreement.