Hey Internet, remember back when I said I’d trade Jose Bautista?
Sure you do. You practically wrapped the statement around my neck and tried to drown me in Lake Ontario with it.
Granted, I did say it while doing Baseball Central with Jeff Blair, toward the beginning of the season, with only four months of analyst work under my belt.
The general response was that I said it for an easy ratings grab, and I was just another salacious, reaching, ratings whore in need of immediate termination.
It was inconceivable that the Toronto Blue Jays would or could trade their best hitter in a generation. Heads would explode if the face of the franchise was dealt.
I even had a prominent blogger explain to me that fans would stop coming to games. The team would be dead —- the deadest it had been since its 20-year championship drought began —- and would never come back to life again.
Right, sure, whatever…
Mind you, when I said it, I said a ton of things would have to happen for that to work (like I would have to become GM, for starters). But here’s the most important thing that would have to occur for me to pull the trigger: another team making me an offer I couldn't refuse.
There were some potential offers like that out there. Especially when you consider Bautista was never going to have another 50-homer year.
He was at the height of his talent and it would only go downhill from here. He wasn't injury prone, but the wear and tear was going to sideline him sooner, rather than later. And, while he is still really, really good, the Jays could really, really use two young, controllable, high ceiling potential starters.
At the time, the Tampa Bay Rays were looking for some power. I speculated a Chris Archer, Jeremy Hellickson, Wil Myers deal. (Okay, just Archer and Myers, no need to get greedy).
I told my detractors that the fan base would find new heroes to rally around since that is the nature of baseball, and the nature of fans.
But the response was still a firm, head shaking, foot stomping, fingers in ears, "no!"
Hellickson, Myers and Archer for Bautista now? A total over-pay, right?
Not to mention the Jays dealing to the Rays is a fantasy in and of itself, BUT, back in the 2012-13 off-season, this type of deal would have been an underpay.
Why do I bring this up? Well, three reasons.
First, it was a great opportunity for a little vindication back pat!
Second, because I think it's important to challenge the general, emotional thinking that one player -— no matter how good —- is irreplaceable.
Value takes on many forms, and a successful team can embrace and adapt to make the most of all of them.
I completely understand that hindsight is 20/20, and that prospects don't always pan out. But that doesn't mean foresight need always be so piss poor, and that adding prospects and on-the-cusp talents can't be good moves despite not passing the immediate impact eye test.
I can't help but wonder what the Jays could have gotten from the Texas Rangers for Bautista?
The Rangers are flush with prospects. Power arms, power bats, and one of the best prospects in all of baseball in Jurickson Profar.
Not to mention that Mike Olt (pre trade to the Cubs) and Engel Beltre are awfully good. Olt would have solved Toronto’s third base power void, and Beltre could have taken Bautista’s place.
I know how good of a player Bautista is, but I also know that the Jays could have cashed in and not lost as much as the fan base thinks they would have if they moved Bautista.
Third, there is this ridiculous line of thinking that if a star player goes, all the fans go with him.
Maybe some fans, but not all of them. Think about the Jays dealing Bautista away for another organization's prime prospects only to see them blossom into super-prospects like others now emerging around the league?
Bautista to the Dodgers for starting arms and Puig before he was Puig? And, as we all know, Puig has, like, zero fans…
And even if you want to take the under cards, think about Munenori Kawasaki. He was as nobody as it got, but that only helped to turn him into one of the most energizing underdogs to hit the turf of the Rogers Centre in a decade.
Even the electric Jose Reyes, a hip-hop artist in his spare time, can't compare to the Kawasaki super-pac.
New players always pop up. New talents always arise. New fans are born every day. A team can't be afraid to let a proven talent go when there is a massive mark up in their favor.