Just a few days after the Atlanta Braves told José Bautista that he was too washed up to play third base for them and cut him loose, the once-great slugger has moved across the division to sign a one-year deal with the New York Mets. He’s not only on the active major league roster for their game tonight against the Marlins, but he’s also starting and hitting fifth.
The Mets, who are a very respectable 24-19 and riding a four-game win streak, found themselves backed into a bit of a corner by injuries to outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares. Bautista’s one of the most fun players of his generation, but his time with the Braves did not go well. The outfielder-turned-third baseman hit just .143 with an OPS of .593 in 40 plate appearances, continuing a decline that began a few years ago in Toronto. So far this season, the 37-year-old Bautista has over twice as many strikeouts (12) as hits (5).
While common sense generally points to the assumption that Bautista will most often be used as a pinch-hitter against lefties, he gets the nod in left field tonight while Jay Bruce takes an off day. If the Mets ever decide to use Bautista at third, though—like the Braves tried to do—there’s a chance that Joey Bats will at some point form part of an infield that includes Jose Reyes and Adrián González, and then we can all get teary eyed about the slow yet inevitable passage of time.