Baltimore Orioles: Should Jose Bautista be on the free agent radar?
Jose Bautista is only the most recent opponent that Baltimore Orioles’ fans love to hate. And I would submit that’s with good reason – we all know who Bautista is, and what he’s done. Let’s start with who he is; he’s one of the best power hitters in baseball and he plays for the Toronto Blue Jays. Now, what has he done?…
…he’s hit the Orioles hard over the years. However more relevantly he’s done everything in his power to rub their noses in his success at every step of the way. Granted his most famous show-boating moment came last year in the ALDS against Texas, however that aside he seems to relish playing the villain to the Orioles’ general all-around “good guy.” He knows that sticks in the heads of guys like Adam Jones, and he uses that to his advantage.
And of course his running feud with reliever Darren O’Day is well documented. The Orioles and their fans see Bautista as a “heel,” in every sense of the term. In turn, Bautista sees the Orioles (and guys like Jones) as unnecessarily being the enforcers of unwritten codes that he sees as unheralded and outdated. And he’s used that hatred to his advantage over the years, although the Birds held him in check in his injury-riddled 2016 campaign.
Bautista is a free agent this off season. So with the Orioles presumably losing the services of a guy like Trumbo, the question begs to be asked: should the O’s go after Jose Bautista? It would be a total about-face in terms of the type of player the O’s usually target. They tend to like signing or trading for guys like Trumbo who are going to fit into their clubhouse. I’m not sure that Bautista would fit that mold. In fact I know he wouldn’t.
But the question at hand is whether or not the Orioles need to reconsider where they stand on things like this. Bautista’s a showboater without any question. So are the Orioles prepared to totally shut out consideration of adding his bat to the lineup? I would hope not – for their sake.
Don’t read too much into what I just said – I’m the master of misdirection! I’m not saying that the Orioles should go out and get him. I’m saying that they shouldn’t totally close the door without considering it for a period of time. Could the Orioles not use a career .255 hitter with a career OBP of .368, who’s capable of hitting everything that’s thrown at him a long way?
The answer is yes, they could. So it is something that should be considered, and given the fact that he’s coming off of a down year he might come cheaper than we think. However that right there is why the O’s need to exercise caution. Bautista only played in 116 games this season, hitting 22 home runs. Plus at 36, he’s certainly on the downside of his career. So he wouldn’t come without risks.
With that said, there’s also the bit about his attitude. Bautista WOULD NOT under any circumstance fit in the Orioles’ clubhouse. Some people want to totally disregard that type of thing and argue that the Orioles should sign someone who could impact them regardless of how that person conducts himself. I think that’s naïve. In some instances, yes you have to find a way to get along with others. However I’m not sure how fair it is to the current Orioles to expect them to embrace someone that was previously public enemy number one now as their own.
The last thing the Orioles need is for one of Bautista’s acts to wear thin on another team who starts plunking Orioles. Furthermore, Bautista’s an excuse maker. All week we heard about how the Cleveland Indians were getting favorable calls in the ALCS with regard to balls and strikes. I don’t buy into that type of mentality, and neither do the Orioles. You don’t make excuses when you fail; you use it as a learning experience and try to be better going forward.
This is not to say that “former enemies” can’t become friends. However in Bautista’s case I do think that the cons outweigh the potential pros. Furthermore there’s the statistical matter of the fact that he’s getting older. So whether you think they should or could put their differences aside or not, that’s only a matter of fact.