Poor José Bautista. The former Blue Jays slugger had six straight All-Star campaigns for the Jays and banged out one of the most iconic playoff home runs of the decade. But instead of settling into the second or third year of one last long-term contract, the 37-year-old has wound up in the Braves’ infield.
Bautista almost certainly landed on the Braves because GM Alex Anthopoulos ran the Blue Jays throughout Bautista’s heyday. After outplaying a six-year, $78 million deal, Bautista rightly wanted to end his career with a lucrative extension ahead of the 2016 season. The Jays wouldn’t meet his asking price of five years and $150 million, and Bautista refused to budge. Unfortunately, the bottom fell out for Bautista in 2016, and he returned to the Jays on a one-year, $18 million deal last season that neither side was happy with. After another year in steep decline, Bautista was unable to secure a major-league deal for the 2018 season.
Per MLB.com, Bautista will earn $1 million if he reaches the big-league club. Bautista began his career playing third base, though he’s logged just 12 games there since the 2012 season. Atlanta is off to a pleasant 9-7 start, and incumbent third baseman Ryan Flaherty is hitting .354. It’s unlikely that Bautista will dislodge Flaherty, but he could definitely hit a few dingers for the Braves if he works his way into the lineup.