Jose Bautista Reliever? Sure Why Not
In 2018, Jose Bautista had a good year where he showed he could adapt to a utility role. He capably played both corners in the infield and outfield, and even more astoundingly, he held his own at second for an inning. He was a slightly above league average hitter who showed he still had a penchant for the big moment.
At 38, you didn’t expect him to get a multi-year deal. In fact, you could argue he shouldn’t have received more than an invitation to Spring Training. However, it still is surprising he didn’t sign anywhere. That goes double when you consider he apparently still wanted to play.
Check that. Bautista definitively still wants to play.
As reported by Jeff Passan of ESPN, Bautista is working out to play for the Dominican Republic to help them qualify for the Olympics. In addition to playing first base, he’s also expected to be available to pitch out of the bullpen.
A man who never pitched a professional game in his life is going to start pitching now. On the surface, it may sound absurd. However, it becomes far less absurd when you consider former teammates like Marcus Stroman believe in him.
Reports are Bautista can throw 94, and he has a real slider. For his part, Stroman said Bautista can pitch in a Major League bullpen. Stroman said that BEFORE this became news.
Digging deeper, you see the two were working out together and preparing for the 2020 season. It turns out Stroman may prove prescient with his praise of his former Blue Jays teammate.
— Marcus Stroman (@STR0) January 17, 2020
If you’re a team, Bautista is well worth a workout and quite possible a minor league deal. After all, Tim Tebow got a minor league deal, and Bautista can actually play baseball.
More than that, teams need to think critically about how to address the three batter rules and limits on the amount of pitchers a team can carry on the roster. Having a two way player like Bautista is an ideal scenario . . . given he can actually pitch.
If he can, you get a modern day Brooks Kieschinck. You get a potent bat off the bench who could also get you some innings out of the bullpen. Once you qualify as a two way player, you get to carry an extra pitcher giving you an advantage over other teams.
Looking at it all, we know Bautista can hit. He can handle backing up at least four positions. Maybe he can pitch too. If you’re the Mets, that’s well worth a minor league deal.