The 37-year-old right fielder Jose Bautista has signed a one-year minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves which will see him shift to third base. It was not until he began playing for the Toronto Blue Jays that he emerged as one of the most dominant presences at the plate over the past decade. He was drafted 599th overall by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2000 and was traded to Toronto in 2008. Seeing Bautista suit up in a different uniform will be difficult for Blue Jays fans, and a slight ponder for fans around the league. He is coming to the end of his career and will go down as one of the greatest Blue Jays players of all time, but will look to reach the World Series with the Braves after reaching the ALCS in back-to-back seasons in 2015 and 2016.
Jose Bautista Signs Minor League Deal With Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta #Braves today agreed to terms with free agent infielder José Bautista on a one-year minor-league contract for the 2018 season, and he has reported to Atlanta’s extended spring training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. He will play third base.
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) April 18, 2018
Last season saw Bautista have an abysmal batting average at just .203, but he still managed to hit 23 home runs and drive in 65 over 587 at bats. He now has eight consecutive 20 home run seasons and will add a bat to fear in the Braves lineup. He also has flexibility in where to put him in the lineup, having batted anywhere from the leadoff to sixth spot while in Toronto. His bat should still be feared, but his arm is not at the same level it once was. Despite adding five outfield assists in 2017, with 96 over his career, he will be most useful with his new club batting DH or coming off the bench as a PH late in games from time to time.
Bautista is a six-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger, and ranks sixth among active players in home runs with 331. He has had three seasons with 40+ home runs, with the most recent happening in 2015 where he belted 40 long balls and drove in 114. 2010 was his breakout performance where he leads the American League in home runs with 54 and ranked third in RBI’s with 124. Should the Braves expect to see him put up these numbers? No. Can he have his ninth consecutive 20 home run season? Yes, assuming he stays off the DL.
He ends his time in Toronto etching his name atop numerous leaderboards. His 288 home runs as a Blue Jay rank second only to Carlos Delgado‘s 336. Other notable ranks include; RBI third (766), hits sixth (1103), and walks second (803). He is also one of only six players to suit up in over 1200 games with Toronto.
Bautista still has something left in the tank, and if he can put together two more solid campaigns should reach the 400 home run and 1,000 RBI milestones, needing 69 and 73 respectively to do so.
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