It remains to be seen if the Tampa Bay Rays will make a push for Jose Bautista as free agency continues, however the Rays have a history of going after players that have immense talent but have seen a decline in production.
The Tampa Bay Rays appear to be ready to replace the power lost in free agency this year. Jon Morosi reported that the Rays are interested in free agent Jose Bautista. Morosi said that “there hasn’t been any substantive dialogue yet.” Toronto declined his 17.9 million dollar option and granted him free agency last week.
The Rays will be looking to replace the power of Lucas Duda and Logan Morrison this off-season, and Bautista could fill that role from the right side of the plate. Bautista hit 23 home runs last year in Toronto and has averaged 32 bombs per 162 games over the course of his career.
Bautista is definitely on the back end of his career. The six-time All-Star hit .203 last year and slugged only .366. After hitting 40 home runs in 2015, Bautista hit a combined 43 over the last two seasons. Traditionally a great hitter against lefties, Bautista hit only .201 against southpaws in his age 37 season.
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There have been ties between the Tampa Bay Rays and Bautista in the past. Morosi also points out that the two sides talked last year before Bautista resigned with the Blue Jays.
The Rays have a history of going after players that have immense talent but have seen a decline in production. Former stars Manny Ramirez, Cliff Floyd, and Johnny Damon all signed with the Rays before retiring.
Signing Bautista would still be a nice addition to the Tampa Bay Rays lineup. Even though he would be limited to a DH role, Bautista could still provide power in a platoon position. With Duda and Morrison becoming free agents, the Rays will need to replace 51 home runs.
It remains to be seen if the Rays will make a push for Bautista as free agency continues. The slugger would provide some pop to a team that is trying to decide between a rebuild or working to contend in 2018.