Braves fans can stop laughing at the Jose Bautista rumors from the offseason. It has actually come to fruition.
New general manager Alex Anthopolous has given his former star from above the border one more crack at the big leagues. However, it does come with a catch: he must prove he can play third base.
The six-time all-star came up as a third baseman. He is a notable late bloomer, not coming into his own until his age 29 season. He has primarily played outfield ever since.
Bautista is coming off his worst season in a decade and is now 37-years old. He struck out at an astronomical rate last season, suggesting his days could be over. Regardless, he is only two seasons removed from a 40 homer year and is a no-risk addition for the Braves, who have been a completely different offense this season. Regardless of what many fans think of Joey Bats, this move can only help the team.
Ryan Flaherty has been a nice story for the Braves and is clearly enjoying a change of scenery, but we can only expect him to be effective for so long. Johan Camargo will be Bautista’s competition at third base (if he still has the legs to play), but he could end up being more effective in a utility role, similar to Marwin Gonzalez, Scott Kingery, or Ben Zobrist. Signing Jose at least gives the team options going forward.
The Braves struck out on a minor league pact with a former big name in Ryan Howard last season, but it never hurts to keep trying with no risk involved. Bautista can still hit the ball for power, so we will see what happens.