Jose Bautista was given a hero’s send-off by the crowd in his final home game in Toronto last week. His tenure with the Blue Jays is over, but the veteran does plan to play in 2018, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports.
Bautista, who turns 37 years old this month, had his worst season since becoming a regular in 2006. He hit .203/.308/.366 with 23 home runs, 65 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 686 plate appearances. His peripheral stats indicate a player who was legitimately declining, not just getting unlucky. Compared to 2016, he drew 4.6 percent fewer walks, struck out nearly five percent more often, pulled pitches nearly eight percent less often, made hard contact nearly nine percent less often, and chased pitches out of the strike zone five percent more often.
Given his age, eroding offense, and similarly eroding defensive capabilities, Bautista may have a hard time building a market this offseason. He may have to settle for a one-year, incentive-laden contract or even a minor league deal so teams are limiting their risk in signing him.
Last month, free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon told reporters that he’d be open to taking a minor league deal in 2018, but only if he was guaranteed a return to the Mets’ system. The 44-year-old starter is nearing the end of a 20-year career, and it makes sense that he’d want to have one last hurrah in the city where he had some of his most productive years.
Now, Twins starter Ervin Santana tells Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, it looks like the Mets might also be open to a reunion. It’s doubtful that Colon has all that much left in the tank, especially following a combined 7-14 record and 6.48 ERA for the Braves and Twins last year, but he’s not necessarily looking to reproduce the 15+ win, sub-4.00 ERA totals of years past.
Instead, Santana says, Colon is seeking the opportunity to win just six more games. He’ll enter the 2018 season five wins shy of the all-time record for a Latin American-born player, and is hoping to claim that title for himself before he enters retirement in 2019. Former Orioles and Expos hurler Dennis Martinez currently holds the record after clinching his 245th win back in 1998. While it took Colon a full season of starts to come up with even seven wins in 2017, he’s only one year removed from a 15-win campaign in 2016. Provided that the Mets are willing to gamble on him again, the milestone may not be that far out of reach.