Bautista: 50-50 chance Cabrera returns to Jays

Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista. (Fred Thornhill/CP)

Melky Cabrera will hit free agency in a matter of weeks, but Jose Bautista says the Toronto Blue Jays still have a good chance at re-signing the switch-hitting left fielder.

“He’s going to see what he can get out there and I guess because of that situation, I think the chances are basically 50-50,” Bautista told Mike Wilner on Sportsnet 590 The FAN Tuesday.

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Cabrera, who ranks among the top outfielders available along with Nelson Cruz of the Baltimore Orioles, will undoubtedly draw interest from around the league. Still, Bautista expects Cabrera to provide the Blue Jays with the chance to make one last bid after hearing offers from other teams.

“I think he’s going to allow the team a chance to come and match any offer that he might get out on the free agent market,” Bautista said. “I think the Blue Jays are going to have a shot at bringing him back, so hopefully for our fan base and for my sake – making my job easier and having him on base a lot, because he does get on base a lot with his bat – hopefully the team does take that chance and re-sign him somehow.”

Jose Bautista joins Mike Wilner

If Cabrera were to leave, the Blue Jays would face uncertainty at two outfield positions and in their lineup. But Bautista pointed out that Cabrera enjoyed playing in Toronto and would welcome the chance to return.

"Obviously he's got an inclination of coming back because of our camaraderie and the fact that we've got a lot of Dominicans on the team, that he's familiar with the city and he loves it,” Bautista said. “He enjoyed success here and he had a good experience in Toronto – an unbelievable one from what I’ve heard him say."

Cabrera batted .301 with an .808 OPS and 16 home runs in 2014, and he's relatively young, having just turned 30 in August.

Whether or not he returns, the Blue Jays will look to build on an 83-win season in 2015. Though Bautista enjoyed playing on a team that contended for most of the season, falling short of the playoffs provides motivation entering next year.

“I was always hungry for that opportunity, but now I’m even more hungry having had a little taste,” Bautista said.