The Braves have signed Jose Bautista to a minor league deal. He will report to extended spring training and attempt to play 3rd base, according to the club.
Bautista, 37, has not played 3B regularly since 2011. He was primarily an outfielder and DH with Toronto over the past eight seasons and did not grade out very well defensively.. Bautista hit just .203/.308/.366 (80 wRC+) across 157 games last year with a -0.5 WAR, although he did post a 122 wRC+ in 2016.
Reached out to Jose Bautista for his reaction to the deal. He said simply, “Just ready to help the Braves win some ballgames.”— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) April 18, 2018
Bautista and Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos have a long-standing relationship dating back to their time in Toronto. Bautista had loosely been linked to Atlanta throughout the offseason but it never seemed like the two sides were close. Now, Bautista will attempt to rejuvenate his career in Atlanta. FanGraphs had an interesting article last September on his career to date and what the future may hold.
Considering he hasn’t played competitive baseball since September, Bautista will likely need considerable time in extended spring training before moving to a minor league assignment. He will be paid $1 million if he reaches the big leagues, according to Jon Heyman.
On the surface, this seems to be a no-risk signing for the Braves. He isn’t owed money up front, and even if he reaches the big leagues, it’s at a minimal salary. I tend to think Bautista’s career is over, but if he has a little juice left in his bat, it could be a thrifty signing by Anthopoulos. This signing should not have any kind of real impact on Johan Camargo or Austin Riley.
More to come.