Toronto Blue Jays: The trade which changed Jose Bautista’s fate

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Jose Bautista
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Jose Bautista /

Former Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos discussed the move which likely resulted in Jose Bautista not leaving the team in 2011.

The 2017 season saw Jose Bautista‘s career with the Toronto Blue Jays end with a whimper rather than a bang. Despite playing in the second-most games of his career, he also had his second-worst batting average.

Combined with Bautista’s fading skills in the outfield, he was a shadow of his former self. It came as no surprise when the Blue Jays decided against exercising his option for 2018.

Of course, this shouldn’t take away from what was a fantastic tenure in Southern Ontario. The 37-year-old racked up an impressive resume, which included six All-Star nominations, three Silver Slugger awards and two Hank Aaron awards.

Bautista first made his presence felt on the big stage during the 2010 campaign, by becoming the first Blue Jays to reach 50 home runs in a season. He finished the year with a league-best 54 homers and a career-high 124 RBI.

Interestingly though, the 2000 20th round draft pick might not have continued his progress in Toronto. Pure and simple, money was the deciding factor.

More specifically, if the Blue Jays hadn’t traded Vernon Wells at the start of 2011, they probably wouldn’t have been able to keep Bautista. Former general manager Alex Anthopoulos explained what happened, during an interview with Mark Feinsand on’s Executive Access podcast:

"“If we don’t move Vernon Wells, I can’t tell you Jose Bautista stays in Toronto or that we’re able to afford signing him…Where our payroll was, financially, we couldn’t have $20 million dollars of Vernon Wells and $14 to $16 million of Jose Bautista both on the payroll.”"

Of course this sounds asinine now, but that’s with the benefit of hindsight. However, you have to understand the situation at the time.

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The Blue Jays were anchored by the seven-year, $126 million contract Wells signed following the 2006 season. Bautista hadn’t even arrived in Toronto yet and when he finally did, no one could have predicted what was to come.

Following the Dominican Republic native’s spectacular 2010, he was set to go to arbitration for the final time. As Anthopoulos alluded to, if he hadn’t traded Wells, Bautista’s future likely takes a different direction.

Fortunately for the Blue Jays, they were able to move Wells and the rest is history. You can even make a case for the Wells trade being the best transaction Anthopoulos ever made, during his tenure in Toronto.


In other Bautista-related news, a recent report from FanRag Sports claimed he is contemplating retirement. However, he indicated this is not the case, in a conversation with Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

"“(I’m) just considering my options, and it depends on two criteria,” said Bautista. “That’s winning and making sure that my family’s in a good situation.”"

The former Pittsburgh Pirate is apparently unhappy with the offers he has received up to this point. Speculation indicates the majority of the offers are around the $1 million mark, which is well below the $18 million he made last year.

Of course, while this would make Bautista’s frustration understandable, it also highlights his remarkable fall from grace. We hope he does get the opportunity to continue playing, but if he does retire, it won’t come as any great surprise.

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What will you remember most about Bautista, from his time with the Toronto Blue Jays? Is his career finished, or do you see any team taking a chance on him in 2018? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.