Jose Bautista, by many Toronto Blue Jays fans and some analysts alike, is considered one of the greatest Blue Jays of all time. He is easily one of the fans’ favorites. From his amazing power, to his outstanding fielding, and everything in between, he has done wonders for the Blue Jays. The fans gave him a standing ovation at their last home game on Sunday. But with his contract coming to an end soon, most analysts are predicting that he will decline his player option this offseason, meaning he most likely will not return to Toronto. This may have been confirmed during the game with his touching cap to the stands, and by the team’s Twitter account.
So here, we take a look back at the career of Bautista, his impact on the Blue Jays, and where he may be going next.
Jose Bautista and His Toronto Curtain Call
From Humble Beginnings
This may sound cliché, but Bautista had a hard route to stardom. He wasn’t always the bat-flipping bad boy we know him as today. He started his career being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 20th round of 2000 MLB Draft, but didn’t play in the league for four years. The Pirates did not protect the right fielder out of the Dominican Republic during the Rule 5 Draft, and so he was selected by the Baltimore Orioles.
Bautista would be a part of the Opening Day roster for the Orioles, playing 16 games and hitting .273 for them. The Orioles then decided to put him on waivers, where the Tampa Bay Devil Rays would pick him up. He ended up playing 12 games for Tampa Bay, and then was traded to the Kansas City Royals for cash considerations. He didn’t stay there long either playing only 13 games and hitting .200.
The Journey Ends
After these games with the Royals, he was traded to the New York Mets for Justin Huber, a catcher. But, the Mets, minutes later, traded him away to, ironically, the Pirates, with Ty Wigginton and Matt Peterson, in exchange for Kris Benson and Jeff Keppinger.
His stint in Pittsburgh was the longest one for him at that point, as he stayed there for parts of five seasons from 2004 to 2008. He played his first full season in the league during this time in 2006, hitting .235 with 16 home runs and 51 RBI. During the 2008 season, the Pirates traded him to the Blue Jays. And this is where our story truly begins.
Jose’s Reign in Canada
In Bautista’s 10 years as a Blue Jay, the team went to the ALCS back-to-back years in 2015 and 2016. Not to mention he went to six straight All-Star games, finished top 10 in MVP voting four times (with two of those being top-five finishes), and won three Silver Slugger awards.
With these kind of stats and antics like his infamous bat flips, it’s not hard to see why he got the standing ovation from the Blue Jays faithful. Bautista could very easily be considered the greatest Blue Jay of all time.
Where to Next?
As previously mentioned, Bautista’s contract has a player option, which he is expected to decline. Now the question is, where does he fit? A Bleacher Report article predicts that Joey Bats will go to the Boston Red Sox. However, it’s hard to see Bautista go anywhere where he will play the Blue Jays more frequently.
Regardless of where he goes, or even if he retires, Jose Bautista walks away from Toronto with his head held high, knowing that he loves Canada, and Canada will forever love him back.
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