Jose Bautista apparently is staying put, after all.
The Toronto Blue Jays are the “front-runner” to re-sign Bautista and are “nearing a deal” with the free agent outfielder, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez reported Sunday night, citing a source. Bautista and the club are discussing a two-year contract worth in the $35 million-to-$40 million range, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Bautista is one of the last high-profile free agents left on the market after the Cleveland Indians signed his former teammate, first baseman/designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion. Initial reports suggested Toronto wasn’t interested in re-signing Bautista, but the 36-year-old reportedly didn’t find a willing suitor elsewhere.
Bautista had a rough year for the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting just .234 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs. He posted his lowest OPS (.817) and home run total since 2009 and also missed 46 regular season games.
Still, the 13-year veteran is one of the top remaining right fielders on the free agent market with the likes of Dexter Fowler, Yoenis Cespedes and Carlos Beltran off the board, so it appears Toronto doesn’t have many other options.
UPDATE (9:50 a.m. ET): The Blue Jays haven’t made anything official, but judging by this tweet from Toronto pitcher Marcus Stroman, it sure looks like Bautista will be a Blue Jay in 2017.
Thumbnail photo via John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images