We haven’t heard much this winter on veteran slugger Jose Bautista, who is one of several prominent players still without plans for the 2018 season. But the 37-year-old made clear today that he still intends to play somewhere in the coming campaign.
Earlier today, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag suggested that Bautista could retire despite having been presented with multiple MLB offers. The problem, per Heyman, was with the salary levels proposed.
But that’s not quite the case, Bautista tells Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. In his interview, Bautista indicated that he has guaranteed MLB offers on table. It seems, then, that he’s either still weighing the options or waiting for a more appealing choice to come along.
Money won’t be the determining factor, Bautista suggests. “Right now I’m just considering my options, and it depends on two criteria,” he says. “That’s winning and making sure that my family’s in a good situation.”
The takeaway here seems to be that the former Blue Jays star is likely to suit up somewhere — and soon, presumably, with the season less than three weeks away. But there’s no real indication of where that might be. He is said to be interested in playing for the Rays, though the team’s interest isn’t clear, while the Marlins are reportedly interested in inking a new home run threat. Otherwise, though, there really hasn’t been any chatter surrounding the six-time All-Star.
The difficulty for Bautista begins, of course, with the fact that he is coming off of a miserable 2017 campaign. He managed to hit 23 home runs in his 686 plate appearances, but slashed just .203/.308/.366 on the year. His combination of a 12.2% walk rate and 24.8% strikeout rate would look solid enough for most players, but represents a marked deterioration for a player who long took as many or more free passes than strikeouts.
It doesn’t help that there are so many other older, defensively limited hitters still floating around. Among the remaining free agents are Matt Holliday, Jayson Werth, Melky Cabrera, Brandon Moss, Andre Ethier, Seth Smith, and Franklin Gutierrez.