The topic of Jose Bautista’s impending free agency has intrigued Toronto Blue Jays fans all year.
Speaking to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci in an upcoming profile, Bautista reiterated that he’d like return to Toronto.
“I love the city,” Bautista said. “I’d be stupid to leave.”
Bautista turns 36 in October, so there are arguments against signing the slugger to a long-term deal from an organizational standpoint. But from a sentimental perspective, locking up one of the most beloved players in franchise history could make for a good PR move.
Despite his age, Bautista remains one of the game’s elite power hitters. He’s tied for ninth in the American League with 11 home runs and has the 19th best OPS in the AL (.860).
The two-time home run champ has gone on record saying that a hometown discount “doesn’t exist” and that he’d like to get paid commensurate his production.
“I will explore every single option, whether it happens or not with the new regime, to continue to try to stay here,” Bautista said this spring. “That being said, I think teams utilize that a lot against players, [seeking] a discount or bargain price, and I think that’s extremely unfair.”
Rangers’ Odor ‘was looking for a fight’
Verducci’s upcoming feature also included more insight on Bautista’s dust-up with the Texas Rangers’ Rougned Odor.
Bautista, who was famously socked in the face by Odor, suggests the Rangers second baseman was trying to incite the scuffle.
“Was [Odor] out to play baseball that day? Maybe partly,” Bautista said. “Part of me also thinks that he was looking for a fight.”
The whole incident started when Bautista slid hard into Odor as retaliation for getting beaned by Rangers pitcher Matt Bush. On the play Odor was throwing a relay to first base that Bautista believes was initially aimed at his head.
“I know exactly what he was trying to do when he threw the ball,” he said. “He tried a hundred per cent to hit me in the face.”
Despite this apparent attempt to injure, Bautista tells Verducci he actually held back on his slide into Odor.
“I could have hit him,” Bautista said. “I could have hurt him. I chose not to. My cleats were down. I slid through the bag. Was it late? Yes, a hundred per cent. But what can I do after they hit me? Should I ask my manager to let me pitch, which he is never going to let me do? Like, what am I supposed to do? Just sit there and take it?”
The Blue Jays and Rangers won’t face each other again this season unless they happen to meet in the playoffs.