In a move that surprised no one, the Blue Jays officially declined their mutual $18 million option on Jose Bautista‘s contract, per reports from MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand and Ben Weinrib. Bautista is still set to receive a $500,000 buyout as he enters free agency this offseason.
The 37-year-old outfielder stumbled through one of his worst career years in 2017, compiling -0.5 fWAR while batting .203/.308/.366 with 23 home runs over 686 plate appearances. To his credit, he was able to stay healthy and maintain a nice home run clip, extending an eight-year streak of 20+ home runs per season, but his inability to consistently create runs and contribute defensively hurt his chances of making a full comeback.
Of course, there’s still a chance that Bautista could return to Toronto on a cheaper contract prior in 2018, as he did prior to the 2017 season, but general manager Ross Atkins has made it pretty clear that the team intends to go down a different route. For his part, Bautista seems set on returning to Major League Baseball.
“Contributing to daily wins is what it’s about for me,” he told reporters as the season drew to a close. “I tried to focus that on this year. I did an OK job, not as good as I’m used to, not as good as everybody’s used to seeing me, and that’s OK. There are good and bad years and for the most part my work tool, which is my body, is great, and all I’ve got to do is stay ready to go.”