This isn’t the greatest free agent pool, but there are still some sluggers on the board. One of those—though not as marquee a name as he was, say, 12 months ago, is outfielder Jose Bautista. And one of the teams looking for an outfielder (and, historically, loves to get power hitters in free agency) is the Baltimore Orioles. A good fit, no?
(Lemme put on my cynic hat and say that’s a novel excuse to not spend big money: You, the fans, this is your fault.)
It seems like Bautista has had beef with just about every team, and the O’s are no exception. In a pair of instances in April 2015, Bautista and Orioles players exchanged words and brushback pitches. And each time Bautista got the final word by homering.
In the Orioles’ defense, Bautista isn’t quite as attractive a target as, say, Blue Jays teammate Edwin Encarnacion. The 36-year-old Bautista is close to being a defensive liability, and saw his power numbers decline in 2016 as he appeared in only 116 games thanks to DL stints for turf toe and a sprained knee.
There are other options in the outfield. Besides Encarnacion, the Orioles could try to re-sign Mark Trumbo, and have reportedly kicked the tires on trades for the Royals’ Jarrod Dyson and the Yankees’ Brett Gardner.
From their comments at MLB’s Winter Meetings, it appears the O’s may take a while to address their needs:
“That’s going to take a little time, it looks like, to get resolved,” Duquette said of the ever-evolving market.
“It’s a slow-moving market for us,” Showalter said, “but Dan’s been very good over the years, and our organization [has], about understanding where you’re going to be at the end of it. The end of it is in April; it’s not here in December.”
The sense around baseball is that everyone’s waiting for Encarnacion to sign, which will set the market for everyone else. He’s probably a little rich for the Orioles’ tastes. I absolutely wouldn’t rule Baltimore out on Bautista, since anything that leaks now is merely negotiation, whether or not it was intended to be made public.