José Bautista’s unexpected and endlessly depressing stint as a third-baseman for the Atlanta Braves, kicked-off ominously with a one-year minor league contract in mid-April, has not produced the way anyone involved might’ve hoped: Bautista is hitting a putrid .143 with an alarming .593 OPS in 40 plate appearances this season, with 12 strikeouts against just 10 combined hits and walks. It’s been ugly. Mercifully, it is now over:
Bautista’s replacement, Johan Camargo, is a 24-year-old playing his second season in the majors. Notably, he is a natural infielder, whereas Bautista has played mostly in the outfield since 2009. Just as notably, Camargo is hitting just .226 for the Braves in 2018—there are reasons to believe he will be a productive hitter, but it’s not like Bautista is being usurped by a proven performer. Mostly, it sounds like he’s just too crummy to stand in anyone’s way:
“As we looked at it, knowing there weren’t going to be at-bats for José, that’s not fair to him. We talked to [Bautista] last night, and just talked it over with him. ... We agreed that if there wasn’t going to be at-bats and playing time here, that’s not right for him.”
Bautista is now a 37-year-old free agent who batted just .203 in his last full season, who couldn’t get a job in spring training, and who washed out terribly in a long shot opportunity in Atlanta. He might still be able to crank the odd dinger—he smoked a couple for the Braves—but in a league crunched with tanking teams and tightening purse strings, he may be just about out of opportunities.