The Boston Red Sox have issues concerning power in the next few years, but waiting for Jose Bautista to become a free agent seems like a weaker notion.
You ever wait for the pot of water to boil before you make the pasta? The water seems to just sit there forever. Eventually, the bubbles come to the surface, but by then the magic is gone if you stare at it long enough. That’s what would happen if the Boston Red Sox were to wait for Jose Bautista, the face of the Toronto Blue Jays franchise, to become a free agent.
In a recent article discussing free agent first baseman Chris Davis, Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe mentioned, “with David Ortiz one year away from retirement, Dombrowski must soon consider a slugger to fill that void, or wait for Jose Bautista’s free agency.”
Set aside the Davis issue for a minute, since this publication has already discussed that possibility. What if the Red Sox wanted to get Jose Bautista. It’s been well-documented how close Bautista and Ortiz are as friends. Conjecture could fly that the possibility could make Ortiz want to stay for one more year or at least help the organization win Bautista over to Boston.
However, realistically, this dream ship has a number of holes in it.
Christopher Smith supplies the context in his recent article for MassLive.com, stating that “Bautista, who turned 35 in October, is set to earn $14 million in 2016 for the Toronto Blue Jays before becoming a free agent at the end of the season. Bautista has batted .278/.367/.598/.965 with 21 homers and four doubles in 56 games (245 plate appearances) at Fenway Park.” Bautista won’t even be a free agent until he turns 36 years old, and he will be looking for a big payday for possibly his final MLB contract. With his batting numbers, the Red Sox execs could be drooling too much around him. Bautista’s no fool; his business savvy would suggest that he knows already how much the Red Sox would covet him, influencing him to ask for money well past his actual worth because he knows that they wouldn’t be able to resist.
Another issue is the fact that the Blue Jays may not keep him for the entire 2016 season.
Look at the way that they couldn’t keep free agent ace David Price. It could still happen, but the telling omen was when the team recently signed J.A. Happ to a three-year deal, a contract given to a pitcher whom the Blue Jays had already said good-bye to before. That money would have been saved for Price if the Blue Jays would have had the ability to sign him, instead. Bautista’s bat-flip alone in the playoffs made him worth more now than he will ever be again. If the Blue Jays want to keep their team dominant, they will either have to pay Bautista whatever he wants in next year’s offseason or trade him at the summer trade deadline if they don’t look like playoff contenders. Even if they do, there’s no guarantee that Bautista would re-sign and the Blue Jays would want to get some kind of a return for their current asset.
What does all of this mean for the Red Sox?
Well, either they will be paying through the nose for a power bat who would want to play in an outfield that already sports Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Rusney Castillo, and recent signing Chris Young. With even more glowing outfielder prospects on the way up, does this look like a team that wants yet another outfielder to add to the logjam?
Also, if the Blue Jays were to trade Bautista to anyone other than the Red Sox, then that new team would be another organization that would have a step up on the courting process. Bautista would then make his way to the city and find out if they would be serious about keeping him around. That team would have 24/7 opportunity to win him over, while Boston would have to wait their turn for a whole year. During that time, other free agents could go to other teams and forcing the Red Sox to pray that Bautista has a soft spot for Massachusetts, for some reason.
Besides, the Red Sox have already finished dead last twice in the American League East division. If they want to start courting any big names, they have to start looking like powerhouse winners now, not later. Who wants to sign with a team that looks like it’s going to lose every year? The Red Sox already look weak now, so who’s to say that any big name is currently looking at them to do anything in 2016?
The team should do what it can for now, not next year, to see how many wins that they can put together. If they start looking like contenders with whomever they get right now, maybe they can land the big fishes in the next offseason. However, if that happens, maybe they don’t need to pay as much for them next winter.
Better yet, why not keep using the minor-league bait they’ve been using? It hasn’t done them wrong, yet.