Jose Bautista does not have the hype surrounding him in free agency that he has had in years past. After a disappointing 2017 season with the Toronto Blue Jays, his value has plummeted. Despite the rough season he had last year, Bautista would still be a perfect free agency target for the Boston Red Sox.
Last season with the Blue Jays, Bautista recorded a .203 batting average to go along with 23 home runs and 65 RBIs. His numbers do not look even close to “elite” anymore, but perhaps a change of scenery to Boston could help him get back on track.
At 37 years of age, many believe that Bautista may have hit his peak and is beginning to decline. Back in 2016 with Toronto, Bautista put up very similar numbers.
The last time that Bautista looked like a true star was in 2015, where he clubbed 40 home runs, drove in 114 RBI’s, and finished the year with a .250 batting average.
Boston would not be signing Bautista to be a part of their packed outfield. He would be brought in to simply focus on bringing power to the plate. That is a role that could help Bautista turn his career around.
There is no telling what kind of contract Bautista will end up receiving this offseason. There are quite a few teams that could try to sign the former superstar slugger simply in hopes that he can revitalize his bat. Boston could likely sign him for a deal worth between $7-12 million for one year.
If that is indeed the price range for Bautista, the Red Sox should aggressively pursue a one-year deal with the veteran outfielder.
Looking ahead at the 2018 season, there are very few teams that could offer Bautista the role and opportunity to compete for a championship that the Red Sox can. They are just a couple pieces away from World Series contention. Contending with the Houston Astros, Cleveland Indians, and New York Yankees will not be easy, but the Red Sox already have an extremely deep and talented roster.
According to a report from Jon Morosi of the MLB Network and Fox Sports, the Tampa Bay Rays are interested in signing Bautista this offseason as well. It seems that there is a good chance Bautista remains in the American League East division, which is another reason the Red Sox should scoop him up.
Boston could choose to pass on Bautista, but a divisional team like the Rays could take a chance on him and get the version of Bautista that can power an offense. There is no guarantee one way or the other, but he is worth the risk of a one or two-year deal.
Needless to say, it will be interesting to see what the Red Sox end up doing this offseason. They have quite a few different directions that they could decide to go. One of those directions could lead to acquiring superstar slugger Giancarlo Stanton from the Miami Marlins, although that course of action does not seem likely.
All of that being said, Bautista would be a solid Plan B for the Red Sox. He may never get back to the 40 home run version of himself, but Boston should sign him and see what they can get from him in 2018.
[Featured Image by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]