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Curious Free Agent Market Leaves Jose Bautista Unemployed

With the way the free agent market has played out, Manny Machado signed an arguably under-value contract after position players reported to Spring Training. Many cite top end free agents like Bryce Harper, Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, and Craig Kimbrel still being on the market as a sure sign there is a problem with free agency.

Those making that claim are right, but the problems do go deeper than that.

Take for example Jose Bautista. Last year, the Mets literally signed Bautista while he was sitting on his couch. He’d fly to New York, and he would prove himself to still be a capable Major League player.

In his time with the Mets, Bautista was an above league average hitter (104 OPS+). In 83 games, he hit .204/.351/.367 with 13 doubles, nine homers, and 37 RBI. He’d play all over the diamond as well, and he would actually play well defensively. Bautista was actually a 1 DRS in 109.2 innings in left. He was serviceable elsewhere with a -2 DRS in right and a -1 DRS at third base. He would show himself to be quite a versatile defender also playing 14.2 innings at first and even an inning at second base.

What is interesting is when Bautista was traded to the Phillies, who were still fighting for a postseason spot, Bautista raised his game. In 27 games for the Phillies, Bautista would hit .244/.404/.467 with four doubles, two homers, and six RBI.

Now, there is no question Bautista’s skills have diminished. He is far from the All-Star and MVP candidate he was in 2015. Still, not all of his skills have eroded. He still has a good eye at the plate, and he has maintained an excellent walk rate (16.8 percent). He had an above-average .175 ISO and 13.1 percent HR/FB. Ultimately, this is a player who still has power and a flair for the dramatic:

At this stage in his career, the 38 year old Bautista is no more than a bench or utility player. He is a power source off your bench. As he showed last year, he still has something in the tank. Really, in a normal free agent market you would see a team signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training.

Remember, Bautista showed last year he was not above that. He signed such a deal with the Braves, and he spent time in the minors to prove himself as a third baseman. It didn’t work there, but it did with the Mets and the Phillies in a different role. Bautista could work well for another team in 2019 if just given the chance.

From a Mets perspective, you could see why they haven’t brought him back. They have Gregor Blanco and Rajai Davis fighting for outfield spots. Younger players like J.D. Davis and to a certain extent Dominic Smith are fighting for a Major League bench spot. There’s also Dilson Herrera, Gavin Cecchini, Will Toffey, Luis Guillorme, and David Thompson who could be fighting for a role not just for the Major League team but also the Syracuse Triple-A team.

To that extent, you understand the Mets not bringing back Bautista. But that’s just the Mets. What are the other 29 Major League team’s excuse?

9 thoughts on “Curious Free Agent Market Leaves Jose Bautista Unemployed”

  1. OldBackstop says:

    I think he has batted .203 the past two years, and since his Age 34 year in 2015 his WAR has averaged to replacement level.

    At 38, maybe some team at midyear would want to see if his thump is still there, but a team looking to win in spring will try a younger guy in util or OF.

    Gold watch time.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      A team trying to win tries to assemble their strongest team possible.

      1. OldBackstop says:

        Lol…Do you have a magic 8 ball that comes up with these?

        Look, his defense has always been weak, -8.9 dWAR career and negative the last 4. His elite power, which was always his savior, has fled, with 23 hrs in 686 plate appearances in 2017, 22 the year befor, and 13 last year in 399 plate attemprz. His once shyroceting OPS, where he once left the league, has dropped to an average under .700 the passed two years.

        That is below replacement value, and he is 38. That isn’t a guy you use to assemble the strongest team piassibke is September It is a midsummer attempt to plug a hole in the pennant drive when injuries have decimated a position, or it is a little star power for attendance for a team playing out the string in September.

        1. metsdaddy says:

          It’s odd you would accuse me of having a Magic 8 ball when your plan is a wing and a prayer instead of bringing in a veteran to compete for a job while simultaneously mischaracterizing his stats

          1. OldBackstop says:

            Mischaracterize how? WAR, OPS, homers, dWAR, BA the last two years? How far back should you go the characterize and assess a 38 year old?

          2. metsdaddy says:

            You called him below replacement value. That’s objectively false

    2. Papa Bear says:

      I would love to see Jose get one more kick at the can. Surely he still can provide some pop off the bench and his versatility in the field especially in the NL with double switches and so.

  2. OldBackstop says:

    Objectively false? Over the past two years he is *minus* 0.3 WAR. That is replacement value. Over the last 5 years his dWAR has been negative every year. That is below replacement value.

    Now….I’ll do the unprecedented and concede a point on this blog. if you look into how WAR is figured, and I once had a very extended debate with inventor Tom Tango about this, it is a hand grenade number….I’ll concede a full point either way. But why would we think a 38 year old, negative career dWAR player who never had a double digit stolen base total even in his prime and hit .203 last year after hitting .203 in 2017 will somehow develop one of the five tools? His one tool was power, and when the Phillies picked him up last year he had two HRs in 57 plate appearances.

    You say this is a market/collusion issue, but show me a player who hit .203 in his Age 36 and .203 in his Age 37 who got a free agent contract in his Age 38?

    And if you can find one, how did it work out?

    With analyrics and the youth skew, 38 is the new 41.

    Bautista is done, at least from an intelligent team view.

    1. metsdaddy says:

      Bautista was a POSITIVE 1.4 WAR player last year. He posted an above average ISO and HR/FB. He plays four positions with him actually being good in LF.

      In the end, no one is saying Bautista should start anywhere, nor is it suggested he’d be a good fielder. For that matter, no one is even suggesting he should get a MLB job.

      The entirety of the argument was he played well last year and showed he can still help a team. The fact no one has brought him in to get a look or to even push a younger player is bizarre.

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