Trade Bait: Should the Blue Jays dangle Jose Bautista?
Tuesday, July 6, 2010 | by Ian Hunter
And that is precisely why I would make the absolutely worst General Manager (okay, maybe second worst next to Omar Minaya) ... because I tend to get too emotionally invested in particular players, rather than make the correct business decisions.
However, as a fan I understand that ultimately this baseball team is a business and the players need to be treated somewhat like commodities ... especially near the trade deadline.
Today marks the first in an upcoming series entitled "Trade Bait" in which I'll weigh the pros and cons of trading certain Blue Jays players that have been rumored to be on the trading block.
We'll start off with none other than Jose Bautista.
Had the MLB Trade Deadline been scheduled for May 31st, there is no question that the Blue Jays third baseman/outfielder would be on his way out of town. At that point, his value was at its peak - having hit 16 home runs and driven in 41 RBI's through the first two months of the season.
As we all know, what goes up ... must come down. Bautista came back down to earth in the month of June seeing his home run pace drop off significantly, yet still posting a decent on base percentage and playing stellar defense.
Now Alex Anthopoulous must make the decision whether he wants to hang onto Jose Bautista, or whether he should trade him away for prospects.
Why the Jays should trade Jose Bautista
Since he leads the majors in home runs, Jose Bautista may appear to be the best trading chip the Blue Jays have at their disposal. He may be putting up career numbers so far, but who's to say that this offensive surge will continue in the second half?
On that same token though, maybe Anthopolous should just ship Bautista off for whatever he can get in return and restock the farm system. The more prospects they collect, the better chance the have of catching lighting in a bottle.
Another case for trading Jose Bautista now is the entire league has their eyes on him. He was a relative unknown at the beginning of the year, but now that he's been named an All-Star and has led the majors in home runs for a while, teams have started to take notice.
Regardless of whether there is an actual "Home Run Derby Curse", I think the Blue Jays should push him to participate anyway. Just like what happened in 2007 to Alex Rios at the Home Run Derby, this could very be Jose Bautista's coming out party as well.
For an offense-deprived team that's in need of some power, if they see Jose Bautista crush some bombs at the Derby next week, that could be the perfect display for the Blue Jays need to sell him off.
Plus, as a bonus ... whoever picks up Bautista gets him on the cheap for the duration of this season (approximately $1.2 million), and next year as well even if he goes to arbitration.
Why the Jays should keep Jose Bautista
Since Jose has cooled off considerably since May and Elias doesn't have him ranked as either a Type A or B free agent, I think the Jays would have a tough time trying to pry away a top level prospect from another team.
If Bautista can keep somewhat of a similar pace and bang out 30 home runs and drive in 100 RBI's and still put up decent offensive numbers next season, that might make him a Type B free agent at best by the end of 2011.
If the Blue Jays had an up and coming prospect at third base waiting in the wings to replace Bautista, then it would be a no-brainer to trade Jose away and immediately call up that player from the minors to replace him.
However, since there aren't any real solid prospects that are close to being ready, maybe the Blue Jays would be better served to hang on to Jose Bautista for a couple more years until the team can figure out a more long-term strategy as to who fits in at third base.
Edwin Encarnacion is almost good as gone come next year, and maybe even earlier ... so he definitely isn't part of the Blue Jays long term plans. Jose Bautista on the other hand has shown to play phenomenal defense both at the hot corner, and the corner outfield positions ... something that will likely last for years to come, even if his offensive numbers drop off considerably.
Obviously he enjoys playing for the organization, and that's probably part in parcel as to why he avoided arbitration to sign for $2.4 million - the exact same salary he made in 2009.
Bautista doesn't seem like the kind of player who wants to test free agency to make the maximum amount of money, but would rather have somewhere to play on a consistent basis.
At the end of this year, the Blue Jays could skip arbitration altogether and reward him with a 2-3 year worth somewhere in the neighbourhood of $10-$15 million dollars, and Jose Bautista would probably be very content with that, so long as it led to a full-time job at either third base or the outfield.
So there you have it - the reasons to trade and the reasons to hang on to Jose Bautista. Now what do you think: should the Blue Jays hang on to Bautista, or ship him off at the trade deadline?