Despite reports that the Indians were done fishing in the free agent pool this offseason, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal hears that the club is still in conversation with several players, including “relievers, corner infielders and corner outfielders […] even Jose Bautista might not be out of the question.” There are a few caveats with this information, the most important of which is that the Indians are supposedly interested in Bautista only if his price tag drops to fit within the team’s budget.
Bautista, 36, remains one of the most viable hitters still on the market, even taking last year’s lackluster production rate into account. He batted .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and an .817 OPS for the Blue Jays in 2016, watching his overall value plummet from a respectable 4.4 fWAR in 2015 to just 1.4 in 2016. There’s no reason to believe that he can’t bounce back in 2017, however, and while the Indians’ outfield situation looks crowded as is, Rosenthal suggests that the veteran slugger could slot in at right field while Lonnie Chisenhall shifts to center.
With the addition of Bautista’s former teammate, designated hitter/first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians have already relinquished their first round draft pick heading into the 2017 season. To land Bautista, Rosenthal adds, they’ll have to give up their second-round selection, currently the No. 64 overall pick.