Whether or not Jose Bautista will actually be a member of the Toronto Blue Jays through the end of his current contract of not, the teams’ decision to shut him down was the only reasonably move to make.
Having landed on the DL with a bone bruise back on August 21, there was simply little reason other than pride for the bluebirds leader to even make an attempt to come back sometime in September to finish the season with the rest of his teammates, and as they’ve already been doing reasonably well despite fielding largely a minor-league roster … really, what’s another?
That said, however, one can’t help but think that this latest development might just mean another knock against the slugger’s future as a member of the Blue Jays.
No, I’m not suggesting that the team should actively look to trade Bautista right now, but this is a 32-year-old who has now seen two straight seasons ended with an injury. With at least two more years left in his contract (and a 2016 team option), 2014 is a crucial season for the Blue Jays and their leader in a couple of ways.
First of all is his health, of course. If, for example, Bautista goes through yet another season with a slow start and sees yet another campaign shortened by injury next year, what’s a cause for some concern now suddenly becomes a major red flag. Would that provide the impetus for the team to try and move him him for a few future pieces to restock the farm?
Then again, should that scenario happen, would they even be able to trade him for anything worth his power upside as his value will be significantly diminished based on health?
Whether its his wrist or his hip, Bautista is not what you’d call a shining sample of longevity, and as much as the team needs him to be healthy to succeed next year, even an early stint on the DL could quickly bring the “trade now” buzzards because the window of opportunity to get significant value for the slugger will close very quickly.
The other thing to consider is if Bautista will want to stay with the team at all through the end of 2015 (and potentially 2016). It’s not secret that he wants to compete on a championship team, and as he’s potentially locked in through his age-35 season, time isn’t exactly on his side.
What if the Blue Jays go through yet another disappointing season in 2014? What if Alex Anthopoulos‘ best-laid plans just don’t come to fruition?
It wouldn’t be a surprise to envision Bautista requesting a trade in that scenario, and it’s a move that the teams will want to make as early as possible if given those circumstances. Either way, Bautista is slated to be 100 percent healthy next season, and it’s just as well … because next season might be the one that decides if he’s sticking around for another couple of years after.