According to a report from MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, veteran free agent outfielder Jose Bautista will be seen at the Rogers Centre again in 2017 as he is nearing a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.
At this time, the two sides are said to be in agreement on a contract, meanwhile, nothing has been confirmed as Bautista is required to undergo a physical examination which he will likely take care of on Monday.
Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports later followed up by saying that Bautista and the Blue Jays are indeed in "serious talks" and that the transaction is likely to happen, however, financial terms of the deal remain unknown.
If and when it all comes together with a club announcement, the signing gives the outfield a better shape with just four weeks to go before pitchers and catchers report to spring training at the team's facility, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, located in Dunedin.
The reunion also improves Toronto's projected lineup considerably as it adds a power bat following the loss of Edwin Encarnacion to the Cleveland Indians earlier in the offseason. As part of a new rule enforced by commissioner Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball, the team will loose a draft pick.
Looking back on Bautista's 2016 campaign, he finished with a batting line of .234/.366/.452 to go alongside 22 home runs and 69 RBI's in a total of 116 games played while he dealt with multiple injuries throughout.
The Blue Jays extended a qualifying offer to Bautista after the postseason came to an end, however, the 36-year-old was looking for more than just a one-year deal worth approximately $17.2MM and has drawn substantial interest since.
Teams most recently involved in talks include the Baltimore Orioles, as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported on Sunday evening, despite the fact that general manager Dan Duquette said otherwise while at the Winter Meetings in Washington, D.C. back in December.
Sportsnet 960 The Fan in Calgary, Alberta said back on Monday January 9 that Toronto was poised for a big week to come as the front office was said to be in aggressive talks with an unknown player, however, after a silent week since, it seems this may have been it, though, other players are still in the mix.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reported on Thursday that Canadian outfielder Michael Saunders is said to remain on the Blue Jays radar of interest, as it has been noted on several occasions, which could mean Ezequiel Carrera may find himself out of a job to start the new year, meaning he is most likely to end up with the Bisons, which is the team's Triple-A affiliate located in Buffalo. Carrera avoided arbitration on Friday after Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reported that the two sides had settled on $1.1625MM.
As Bautista's deal with Toronto is now pretty much in the books, general manager Mark Shapiro can now start to address other needs such as a backup catcher for Russell Martin as well as perhaps some extra depth in the bullpen to sure up the late inning duties as needed.
Shapiro spoke with Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Friday where he discussed what still needs to get done. During that interview, Shapiro acknowledged that they needed to fill the hole in the outfield, while mentioning Bautista being "the most talented one out there", assuring how perfect he would be to fill the slot.
While discussing bullpen needs, Shapiro said that he has been planning to add on several pieces while also saying that the team has been pursuing free agents who would add the most WAR per dollar, as opposed to targeting specific needs, however, this was dependent upon how much he decided to spend on a corner outfield bat which is no longer something to worry about.
Should all fall in to place by the end of spring training, the Blue Jays could be looking at yet another successful season despite a small difference on the field with Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce taking over responsibilities at first base this coming season while splitting time at the corner.
In recent news, second baseman Darwin Barney has re-signed with the team on a one-year deal worth $1.05MM, avoiding arbitration while talks with right-handed pitcher Marcus Stroman go on after Sportsnet reported that the two sides were $300K apart in talks.null