BY BRANDON MURPHY
After a disappointing 2016 season for Jose Bautista, many Jays fans thought they would be all in on resigning free agent Edwin Encarnacion. Months later, a series of events saw Edwin sign in Cleveland. Now, Jays fans should welcome the Bautista signing with open arms.
At the start of spring training last year, Jose Bautista didn’t shy away from his future contract demands. When asked about giving the team a “hometown discount”, Bautista simply replied that that doesn’t exist in his world and that he had already given the Blue Jays a five-year hometown discount, which is fair. Since signing his five-year, $65 million deal from 2012 through 2016, Bautista appeared in 634 games, recording 590 hits, 424 RBIs and 152 home runs. During that time he also posted a respectable .256 batting average with a .375 on-base percentage. Safe to say Bautista gave Jays fans plenty to cheer about, including his staggering three-run home run in the playoffs last year which will forever shine in Blue Jays’ history. It still gives me goosebumps today.
At 36 years of age, Bautista was destined to decline and it showed. He posted a measly .234 batting average and 103 strikeouts. His attitude was also questionable, but not in the wrong way. He wants to play baseball and win, but sometimes his comments are controversial.
Prime example, in an Indians/Blue Jays matchup, Jose made comments about their pitcher Ryan Merritt, saying he would be “shaking in his boots” since he was only making his second career start. That would come back to bite him as the Jays eventually lost the game and the series, eliminating them from the playoffs, on Bautista’s birthday.
— Trevor Bauer (@BauerOutage) October 20, 2016
The Blue Jays haven’t made any significant changes during the offseason. They added a few pieces here and there but did not manage to acquire a big name or assess their needs, which made the Bautista signing that much more meaningful.
Despite his hotly debated comments and a lacklustre season, Bautista remains an essential part of the Blue Jays and nobody can deny it. His one-year, $18 million contract will be a good asset to the squad, which still needs big bats after losing Encarnacion. We can look at this and think of it as an opportunity for Jose to redeem himself. After all, he is one of the better home run hitters in the MLB and has shown it consistently over the course of his career. His passion and desire to win are something you can’t put a price on and now he has a fire under his ass.
If you think Jose Bautista isn’t the right fit and shouldn’t be back, just remember the bat flip; how that home run brought an entire nation to its feet and will never be forgotten. How one hit actually made baseball a thrilling sport to watch for casual viewers. Think of the moments when he made you stand up and cheer and ask yourself again if he doesn’t belong on this team.