Speculation about Jose Bautista ultimately signing a one-year deal is growing throughout the industry, writes Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith. The Blue Jays were recently said to be in active talks with Bautista, and Nicholson-Smith notes that he spoke with execs from two other clubs that considered Bautista the exact type of player that could end up as a significant bargain if he’s had on a one-year pact. Nicholson-Smith adds that there’s still a belief in the industry that Toronto would be perfectly happy to let Bautista depart, sign elsewhere, and collect a compensatory draft pick. However, the Jays do still need two corner outfielders, and Bautista is a known commodity among the fans, in the clubhouse and on the field for Toronto.
A few more notes on the free-agent market…
- Nicholson-Smith also reports that the Blue Jays are continuing to hunt for a backup catcher after seeing one target, Bobby Wilson, sign a minor league contract with the Dodgers. Per Nicholson-Smith, the Blue Jays wanted to sign the 33-year-old Wilson, but he elected to sign with the Dodgers after Toronto declined to offer his camp any assurances that additional catchers would not be pursued. Among the options still on the market are Chris Iannetta, Nick Hundley, Kurt Suzuki and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, to name a few.
- The Braves are still open to adding a bench bat despite having a full 40-man roster at the moment, and both Kelly Johnson and Jeff Francoeur are possibilities, per David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Twitter link). This would mark the third straight year in which the Braves signed Johnson as a free agent and his fourth overall stint with the team that originally drafted him, if an agreement is ultimately reached. It’d also represent the third stint with the Braves for Francoeur and the second consecutive offseason in which he inked a deal with Atlanta.
- The Tigers are known to be on the lookout for some help in center field, but they didn’t show interest in Ben Revere before he signed with the Angels and haven’t had any serious discussions with Austin Jackson about a return to Detroit, reports MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Last week, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported that the Tigers are looking for a center field option that would cost around $2MM. Jackson could fit that bill after missing the last three months of the 2016 season with a knee injury, though Beck’s report paints that as unlikely. Last week, I took a look at a few other options the Tigers could consider as well.
- Any further additions made by the Indians this winter seem likely to be low-cost in nature following the signing of Edwin Encarnacion. Cleveland GM Mike Chernoff implied to Ryan Lewis of the Akron Beacon-Journal that the team’s remaining resources are somewhat limited. “Obviously with a commitment like this, we couldn’t bring either [Mike Napoli] or [Rajai Davis] back at the dollars they would have cost,” said Chernoff. “Raj gave us a huge amount last year, too. You could see him potentially being a fit again with the role he had last year. I think we have a lot of internal pieces that can fill some of those spots.” Davis signed a one-year, $6MM deal with Oakland last week, so Chernoff’s suggestion that he was too expensive could well signal that any final additions will be rather minimal in nature. As Lewis further notes, that could lead to a bit less depth in the outfield and on other areas of the roster than Cleveland brass would otherwise prefer.