1:38pm: The Braves have now announced that Bautista’s contract has been select. Outfielder Preston Tucker was optioned to Triple-A to open a spot on the active roster for Bautista.
After a blistering start to the season, Tucker’s bat has unsurprisingly come back down to Earth in recent weeks. He’s posted a .218/.246/.364 slash over his past 57 plate appearances with the Braves.
9:32am: David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal Constitution tweets that the Braves are adding Bautista to the MLB roster today.
9:24am: The Braves are expected to add Jose Bautista to their lineup tonight, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (via Twitter). Atlanta will need to formally select the contract of Bautista, who signed a minor league deal with the Braves last month. Atlanta announced in April that the longtime Blue Jays star will play third base in their organization. The Braves currently have three openings on the 40-man roster, so they’ll only need to make a corresponding 25-man roster move to add Bautista.
Bautista, of course, was primarily a third baseman before breaking out with the Jays and settling in as their right fielder for the better part of a decade. He’s played just 38 innings at the position in the four years prior to signing with Atlanta, however, all of which came last year in Toronto. Bautista hasn’t seen even semi-regular action at the hot corner since 2011, and even then he logged just 205 innings at the position in that entire season.
The 37-year-old slugger has gotten off to a solid start with Atlanta’s top affiliate, hitting .250/.386/.361 with a homer, a double and six walks against eight strikeouts through 44 plate appearances. As Bowman notes, the home run and double came within the past few days, as Bautista’s bat has begun to heat up a bit as he’s shaken off some of the rust after sitting out Spring Training entirely.
Bautista will be looking to rebound from a dreary 2017 season in which he hit just .203/.308/.366. While Bautista still slugged 23 homers and walked at an above-average 12.2 percent clip, his strikeout rate jumped to a career-worst 24.8 percent as his contact rate plummeted from 80.2 percent to 73.3 percent. The biggest flaw for Bautista was a sudden inability to hit fastballs; a career .246/.374/.519 hitter against four-seamers, Bautista flailed ineffectively at four-seam fastballs in 2017, hitting just .198/.294/.365 against them.