4:34PM: A deal between Bautista and the Mets is “close,” according to SNY’s Andy Martino (Twitter link).
TODAY, 3:59PM: The two sides are still working towards a contract, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports (Twitter link), and it seems if “they should have an answer one way or another as soon as today.” There could also be more than one team interested in Bautista’s services.
YESTERDAY: The Mets are “showing interest” in veteran slugger Jose Bautista, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter). The 37-year-old is back on the open market after being released by the Braves over the weekend.
It is not clear at this point how the Mets would envision utilizing Bautista, if a deal comes together. The veteran had lined up at third base for Atlanta, though there won’t be an opening at the hot corner in New York once Todd Frazier returns from the DL. Bautista would potentially represent a right-handed-hitting corner outfield option while Yoenis Cespedes is on the shelf.
Of course, it could also simply be that the Mets see Bautista as a possible upper-level depth piece. Whether he’d be willing to sign without at least a plan in place to return to the majors, though, is not immediately clear.
Clearly, things did not turn out as hoped for Bautista with the Braves. He had managed only a .143/.250/.343 slash over forty plate appearances in a dozen games. Though he was drawing walks in over 12% of his plate appearances, Bautista had gone down on strikes in three of every ten trips to the dish — far above his typical levels in that regard.
All that being said, it’s clearly too small a sample for the numbers to say anything definitive, and the Mets’ front office may believe there’s still some cause for optimism for a player who was not long ago one of the game’s best hitters. Plus, the fact that he is up to speed at third, and could still be used at first base or the corner outfield, does give Bautista some added versatility. The right-handed-hitting Bautista could fit reasonably well on the Mets’ current roster, which features a lefty-heavy outfield and southpaw-swinging veteran Adrian Gonzalez at first base.