Red Sox May Be X-Factor In Jose Bautista Drama

Feb 23, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) stretches with teammates during practice at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 23, 2016; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista (19) stretches with teammates during practice at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

With Jose Bautista‘s declaration of desire, he may have priced himself out of Toronto, but the Boston Red Sox may actually want to pick up the pieces.

Before addressing that bold statement, let’s clarify a few things. Bautista is still the face of the Toronto Blue Jays baseball franchise. He is still a part of one of the most potent batting lineups in MLB history. He is still under contract for the 2016 season. As long as the team stands to make a run for the playoffs, Bautista isn’t going anywhere.

At least not until free agency hits next winter.

Bruce Arthur of The Toronto Star wrote that the Blue Jays don’t need to re-sign their star player for a very simple reason:

"“It’s not just because of their self-imposed payroll parameters. It’s not just because of the negotiating terms he has proposed, in part because the terms Bautista has proposed appear to be about the same as the terms he proposed to Sam Dyson of the Rangers, in the seventh inning of that Game 5. In the end, that wasn’t much of a negotiation, either.No, it’s because Jose Bautista appears to have made it too easy to say no.”"

Reports have been coming in for days about how Bautista has openly admitted that there is no negotiation; he wishes to be paid what he feels that is fair to a player of his caliber or he will walk away from the team that has been synonymous with his name for the past eight seasons.

Rumors were that Bautista wanted five years and $150 million to stay in Toronto or else he would try to find it next year with another team. After being asked about the rumors, Shi Davidi of Rogers Sportsnet was answered by the right fielder with only one word: “False.” The next day, the word is that the numbers could actually be higher. This ultimatum-esque statement coming after earlier in the month when Bautista was reported by the Canadian Press saying his thoughts about re-signing with the Blue Jays for the rest of his career: “It would be an honour if I had the opportunity to do so.”

Now, what does all of that drama have to do with the Red Sox?

Put your thoughts about grabbing the Blue Jays’ other 2017 free agent Edwin Encarnacion to the side for a minute. Let’s not spew out Bryce Harper‘s name too quickly into the equation either. Both are possible and both are not necessarily going to happen, either.

However, there is some definite linkage between Joey Bats and the Red Sox organization already. A big part of that has to do with David Ortiz, the face of Boston’s franchise. Both men are from the Dominican Republic. Both men played winter ball at the same time. Both of them look at the other like a good friend, almost family. Bautista so much as admitted in an interview with Arash Madani of Rogers Sportsnet and Big Papi beside him that Ortiz was a mentor to him, a man who Bautista could lean on in his brightest days and his darkest hours.

The bond that Bautista shares with Ortiz could be the x-factor in bringing the slugger to Boston. Even though Ortiz is retiring, he has made his family home in Boston and has major ties to the organization that hints that he will be around and very influential in the future. A tidbit of knowledge that likely has not escaped the savvy Bautista.

Bautista is a six-time All-Star since 2010, hitting 243 home runs in the last eight years with Toronto. Last season, he only hit .250 but he also smashed 40 home runs and 114 RBIs. Oh, and there was that case in the playoffs of a bat flip. You may remember it. Imagine that kind of swagger added to a team who has had some major swagger of its own in the playoffs? Namely his mentor, Big Papi Ortiz.

Alright, so why will this deal not happen?

The Blue Jays could re-sign him. He could be brought down to sign for less money. He could see that the Blue Jays have a great team offensively and that the lineup that includes 2015 A.L. MVP Josh Donaldson actually helps protect him from getting bad pitches, hence why he can continue to produce. Bautista’s also 35 years old. The Red Sox may not want to sign the aging veteran to a long-term deal, especially one with that kind of a price tag after already spending a ton on other free agents the last two seasons.

Speaking of ‘price’, David Price, another one of Bautista’s friends who just happened to play with him in 2015, signed as a free agent with Boston. If Ortiz and Price can bury their past issues, as they have, then the pull of two friendly faces, including one who is staying with the team on the field for a long time, might just sway Bautista over to the Red Sox, provided that they’re interested.

If the Red Sox can get over the finances, they definitely would be a good fit for Bautista. Jackie Bradley Jr. can play excellent defence in the outfield, but Mookie Betts has proven that he can be an everyday center fielder with All-Star potential. If Bradley or Rusney Castillo show any signs of weakness with their bats, Bautista could easily play right field in Fenway Park and be a huge addition to the offence.

Besides the money, the only other major obstacle for Bautista seeing Boston as a destination would be the Red Sox lineup. Only if Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval have better years with the bat can the Red Sox provide the same coverage as he has now with Toronto to produce runs. The Red Sox were one of the best in 2015 in scoring runs, but were far behind the Blue Jays in total. If people are not getting on base around him, Bautista’s .250 may get too exposed and he will not be able to do what he does best.

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Edwin could play first base, but the Red Sox have lots of infielders to take the spot. He could be the designated hitter, but Ramirez seems poised to replace Ortiz next year. Harper’s brashness may fit in well with Red Sox Nation, but does he have as much as Bautista connecting him with the team? It’s really up to the Red Sox brass to decide how badly they want to add him, as the team could pose as a great fit for Bautista’s demands if the price is right.