The 25-year-old Bautista had been occupying a spot on the 40-man roster but suffered a torn ACL and LCL while playing in Triple-A. In order to open the 40-man spot but also retain him, the Nats released him and quickly brought him back on a new minor league pact that’ll let him rehab with the organization while creating additional roster flexibility.
Bautista made a brief cameo in the Majors this season, going hitless in six plate appearances, and he also had a quick cup of coffee with the 2017 Nats, going 4-for-25 in 17 games. He’d been off to a fine start in the minors this year, hitting a combined .303/.345/.376 with a homer, three doubles, a triple and six steals (in eight attempts) through 121 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A.
While he’s never had much power in the minors and drew 30-grade power in his most recent scouting report at Fangraphs, Bautista does boast excellent speed and solid contact skills. He’s swiped 239 bases in 534 career minor league games, and he’s struck out at just a 15.6 percent clip in Double-A and a 17.5 percent clip in Triple-A. Baseball America, Fangraphs and MLB.com all rated him inside the organization’s top 20 prospects recently, and he has the upside of eventually functioning as a speed- and defense-oriented fourth outfielder at the big league level, assuming, of course, that he can recover from that serious knee injury.