Just a savage, savage move by the Orioles vice president of baseball operations, Dan Duquette.
Last February, a report came out that free agent-to-be Jose Bautista was in search of a five-year, $150 million contract after the 2016 season. Once that story made the rounds, Bautista addressed it by calling that report “fictitious.” According to Jon Heyman, that report was fictitious because Bautista actually wanted MORE than that, which is laughable now, especially when you consider that Edwin Encarnacion is a far better option, and he can’t even get $60 million over three years at the moment.
For as much noise as Bautista’s impending free agency was making last winter, we haven’t heard a peep on the Bautista front now that he’s actually a free agent. The Blue Jays met with Bautista yesterday, potentially considering bringing the slugger back to Toronto. Outside of that, the Cleveland Indians have shown a little bit of interest, and that’s really been it.
One place that we know Bautista won’t end up is Baltimore, because Dan Duquette straight up told his agent that the O’s aren’t interested due to the fact that Orioles fans hate Bautista. Couple things here — I think it’s hilarious that Duquette is so open about that being the reason why, but at the same time, I think it’s a stupid reason not to sign somebody. You think Yankee fans liked Johnny Damon after he put the final nail in the 2004 Yankees’ coffin in Game 7 of the ALCS? They loved the guy after he signed there in 2006, and then won a World Series with them in 2009. The Yankees also tried to sign Pedro Martinez when he became a free agent after 2004, and that was after he spent the last seven years throwing at Yankee players’ heads, and tossing their coaching staff to the ground.
Now, if you wanna say that you don’t want Bautista because the players hate him, then that’s a different story. You never want to disrupt any positive vibes in the clubhouse, which it seems like that would be the case if Bautista walked into the room. However, I think the bigger story here is how much Bautista’s down year in 2016 has hurt his market value. He’s coming off a year in which he hit .234 with an .817 OPS, 22 homers, 24 doubles and 69 RBI. He also missed nearly 50 games with injuries to his quad, toe and knee.
He’s about to enter his age-36 season, so time isn’t on his side, either. He could not have picked a worse year to have a significant drop in performance and multiple DL stints. If he were coming off a prototypical Bautista season in which he had an OPS north of .900 and 40 homers, you think Duquette is passing on Bautista for a reason as silly as our fans don’t like you? They like home runs in Baltimore. They’d get over it. What they won’t get over is investing significant dollars in a player who’s injury prone, in their late 30’s, and underperforms.