Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Trade Bait: Should the Blue Jays dangle Jose Bautista?

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From a personal standpoint, there is nothing I would love more than to see Jose Bautista stick around with the Toronto Blue Jays for the next 2-3 years.

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?

Should the Blue Jays trade Jose Bautista?



11 comments:

  1. A little dangle never hurt anybody....

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  2. To your point about Jose just wanting to have a place to play and not test free agency... I think that Jose wants to get PAID just like everyone else, but that's just me. It could be your emotional investment talking :-)

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  3. I would add under reasons to keep him:
    - he can grow a sweet beard in under a week
    - his name is fun to say, and nearly impossible to mispronounce

    They should ship him off but only if there's a decent 3rd base prospect pickup at some point before that. Dude is basically what Fred Lewis is to the outfield - an excellent short term stopgap, but without him you're essentially losing the stopgap...

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  4. My belief is that some big trades are going to be happening in a matter of a few weeks. With Boston, Yanks, and the Rays all way ahead of us this year, it's time to take a step back, realize it's been quite a good year, and plan for the next one (and in the mean time enjoy each game until the end of the season of course). That being said, back to my original thought - trades.

    Originally, I liked JBau, but felt much better knowing that Aaron Hill or Adam Lind was at the plate. After the past few months, I have since changed this thought process. That being said, I wish that Bautista did not have to leave us, but that being said, I think it's best for the team. With the luck that the Blue Jays have with injuries, who's not to say he doesn't get injured in a few weeks? Trade him. I'll miss him. I'll miss his beard (let's be honest - he's the only one that could accurately grow a beard).

    Who I think without a doubt will be going as well - John Buck. Man, has he also surprised me this year! How many times have someone stated: "What the Buck!" - he is also at an all-time high, and also heading to the All Star Game. With JP Arencibia hot and ready for the majors, it may be time to trade Buck, and move J.P up to where he belongs.

    Lastly, when it comes to trades, I think that some bullpen members would have to go. I would love to say take Tallet, but I dont think anyone else would want him either. I still think something could be in the making with Downs/Frasor. And with Roenicke being awesome in AAA, and Rzep becoming a potential reliever, who is to say we would miss 'em?

    Anywho, sorry for the long rant. Just my thoughts.

    @Alleycat17 / April

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  5. I voted yes, but mainly because I don't trust Cito to move Bautista to third when Snider finally returns from the DL. To me, getting Snider back on the horse as soon as he's healthy is the most important thing for this team.

    But if I'm wrong and E5 gets the boot when Snidey returns, then I think Bautista should only be traded if there's a good offer for him. He may not be a part of the long term plan, but he's more than good enough to be here for the short term.

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  6. Callum, good point. For a player like Bautista who's battled all his career to make rosters, a guaranteed $2.4 million season probably looks pretty good compared to not making a roster at all.

    sadp, of course the beard also comes into play - but that deserves a completely different post in itself. I'm with you - hang onto Jose in the interim unless the Jays get some great 3rd base prospect from another trade.

    April, thanks for the comment! I love Jose, but for the better of the team I think it's time to trade him. Like you said, what if he gets injured ... then he has almost no value. Strike while the iron's hot - and that goes for John Buck as well. Send Downs off too, because I believe he is cruising to be a Type A Free agent.

    infieldfly, that's the tough thing: what happens when Snider comes back? You know Cito will keep him out there full time in right field, so where does Jose go? If EE hasn't already been DFA'd, I'm afraid that probably means a platoon at third base.

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  7. I cannot agree with the comments about Jose's beard. I think that it takes him much less than a week to grow one. Hell, sometimes it seems to take him less than a game to grow one.

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  8. If you can get anything of value for the future, you have to trade him. I know that's obvious, but it's also true.

    I'm also unsure of his value on a true contending team. If he's consistently hitting 30 HR per season then yes, or as an injury replacement for a few positions, but I'd rather see a much higher average at those positions for a full time player. Unless, that low average includes hitting 30 HR.

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  9. I think the Jays should deal him, but the return probably won't be that great because of his questionable track record. I'm guessing they get a decent prospect with a chance to be a regular, not an All-Star, or a No. 3 to No. 5 starter prospect, or a solid bullpen arm.

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  10. Anon, Bautista's beard-growing capabilities are off the chart. I swear he starts the game clean-shaven and then he has a full beard by the time the game is over. You can't put a price on that.

    Mattt, I think that's maybe why some teams are a little weary of signing him just for offense. Bautista's already trailing off, and he's not traditionally a home run hitter. But I guess his great defense is also another asset which teams would look at.

    Steve, I think they should take whatever they can get. You're right, it probably won't be much ... not a top level prospect or something, but sometimes those lower tier prospects end up being superstars, so I guess that's the chance you have to take!

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  11. All I have to say is...inside the park home run. That is all.

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