Indians

Saying “No way” to Jose

Saturday evening, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal sent Major League Baseball fans and Cleveland Twitter into a frenzy. Rosenthal reported to the masses that the Indians are in the market for Toronto Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista. The report seems to have Cleveland split in their thinking of Bautista. Some fans drool at the possibility of having another potential 40-home run guy, and others, myself included, cannot even begin to fathom how potentially disastrous a deal with Bautista could end up.

The Cleveland Indians are doing things very different than us fans have become accustomed to. We are not used to management opening the check book and bringing in All-Stars. We are used to getting excited because Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn want to come here; not guys who club 40-plus like Edward Encarnacion and Bautista. However, the reason the Indians are still in on Bautista isn’t because they’re all in on 2017 and are willing to pay anyone anything, it’s because there is zero market for the erstwhile Blue Jays slugger. And the reason there is zero market for Bautista is because he has next to no value for his asking price. The only other team interested in Bautista is the Jays, who offered him a one year deal for more than $17 million. He turned it down.

Bautista is going to be playing in his age-36 season. A guy who is 36-years old and looking for over $20 million coming off his worst season in eight years is not good. A guy who is 36-years old and looking for over $20 million coming off his worst season in eight years in which he missed 46 games due to injury is even worse.

Bautista slashed .234/.366/.452 last season with 22 home runs in his 116 games played. Twenty-two home runs in 116 games put Bautista at a 30-home run pace for a 162 game season, which would have been his lowest 162 pace since 2009. Even just a year ago, 30 home runs would have been a solid number. But with home run numbers spiking up, as the MLB as a whole hit over 700 more in 2016 than 2015, 30 home runs isn’t nearly as valuable. Thirty-eight other players hit 30 or more home runs in 2016, something just 13 players did in 2015.

 2010201120122013201420152016
MLB HR4620456049204650420049205610
Bautista 162 pace54.346.847.538.436.542.430.7
HR Value1.1751.026.965.826.869.862.547
Bautista Home runs/MLB Total = Value (rounded up two decimal points to make it easy on the eyes)

For Bautista to have matched his 2010 value in home runs, he would have had to hit 66 this past season. While home runs are rising league wide, Bautista isn’t keeping up with the trend. His home run value has dropped in five of the past six seasons, and at 36 years old coming off an injury, I don’t think it’s going to get any better. Father Time is undefeated, and it appears Bautista is facing off with him.

 

 

 

 

 

Statistically, Bautista dropped across the whole board in 2016.

YearAVGOBPIso SLGwRC+WARSoft%Med%Hard%
2010.260.378.3571656.419.5%40.9%39.6%
2011.302.447.3061818.122.7%38.2%39.2%
2012.241.358.2861372.913.6%49.8%36.6%
2013.259.358.2391354.316.7%45.4%37.9%
2014.286.403.2391606.316.8%48.5%34.7%
2015.250.377.2851484.417.1%47.6%35.3%
2016.234.366.2171221.421.3%37.7%41.0%

The last two seasons have been two of Bautista’s worst. While they are not horrible numbers by any means, they don’t belong to a guy who entered free agency looking for $20 million per year. Bautista still gets on base at a pretty good clip, and it’s encouraging that he hit the ball harder this year than any year of his career. However, while he did hit the ball harder than he ever has, he also hit it softer than he has in five years, and struck out more often than any season since 2009. Because he’s older, injured, striking out more, and hitting it soft more, I’m willing to guess that his Hard-hit rate was a fluke, and probably will regress back to the mid-low 30’s this season.

Bautista’s injuries and his age are my two biggest concerns. Since 2010, position players who have gone on the disabled list one season, 38 percent of them have returned to the DL the next season. For players over 30 years old, like Bautista, that number goes up to 41 percent. How bad do you really want a diminishing talent, who has a 40 percent chance of missing significant time? Even at a 162-game pace, Bautista’s WAR would have been under 2.0. That wouldn’t even have been in the top 200 of all Major League Baseball.

Beyond statistics, there’s another reason I don’t want Bautista in an Indians uniform: I can’t stand him. I hear people say he’s one of those guys that you hate, unless he’s on your team, then you love him, but I can’t see myself enjoying this guy in Cleveland. I won’t lie, that bat flip against the Rangers two years ago was awesome. I was all about that. But starting fights, getting punched in the face, and making excuses about “circumstances” and talking about Ryan Merrit “shaking in his boots” are all plenty for me to not like him. And don’t forget the time he followed everyone on Twitter because he so desperately wanted to be MLB Network’s “Face of the MLB;” a contest that was taken as such a joke by fans that Eric Sogard was a finalist. Maybe I talked on the phone with my dad too long last night, or maybe I’m just getting older, but I really cannot stand the guy’s attitude. If you are going to be as cocky as Bautista, I think you should have to hit above .234 with 22 home runs, but that’s just me. Now if Bautista came to Cleveland and had his cocky attitude while hitting 40-plus? Well then I’m all in.

I believe in paying players for what they are going to do, not for what they have done. It is said that once a player showcases a skill, he holds that skill forever, and at anytime could re-showcase it. But at 36 years old and an injury history, I’m not sure how much skill Bautista still possesses.

The Indians’ front office is smart, though. And I’m more than sure they’re aware of all of this. I don’t see them spending any significant money on Bautista. There isn’t a market for Bautista at all outside of Toronto, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay, so the Indians should have some leverage in any negotiations.

If Bautista lowers his asking price by a lot, and the Indians take a chance on a guy who gets on base a lot and potentially hits for a bunch of power, then that is a huge steal for Cleveland. But as of this morning, it is reported that Bautista was offered two years worth $35 million to $40 million, a contract that is way outside Bautista’s worth. You could make an argument that the Indians should go all in on Bautista and give him that, and hope he returns close to his old self, but I don’t see that happening. If management is willing to spend $40 million, I’d rather see them do it elsewhere.

The Indians are weak defensively in center field, and as we saw last year, you can never have too much pitching. I would much rather see them put money into production than a big name. Pay for what you will get, not what someone else got.

With how Bautista conducts himself, his outrageous asking price, and his diminishing skill set, like the great Randy Jackson said, “yeah, it’s gonna be a no for me, dawg.”

  • mgbode

    Boom

  • NankirPhelge

    I could be wrong, but I can’t believe the Indians ever came close to considering this. It makes no sense for a franchise in our position. Sounds to me like a leaky agent negotiating ploy.

  • jpftribe

    Excellent piece Dan, totally agree. I think what makes Bautista’s 2016 even worse is that he was in a damn powerful MLB lineup with Donaldson and Encarnacion and still couldn’t produce. I’d take Nap’s bat before his at this stage.
    $17M / year is silly money for JB. Shapiro is in a tough spot. The pitchforks will be out if he loses both Edwing and JBats. But the smart BB move is not to pay that kind of money.

  • Steve

    Bautista’s projected 128 wRC+ would rank tops on our team. Over Santana, even over Encarnacion. He’s losing the battle with Father Time, absolutely. He’s still pretty darn good.

    It seems like he’s re-signing in Toronto, but this has to come down to what the medical reports say on Brantley. Without Michael, we could really use a corner bat, and considering Bautista’s shrinking market and likely few guaranteed years, Jose is probably the best value. No prospects given up, only the second round pick. Otherwise we are left navigating the year again with Yandy Diaz, which wouldn’t really bother me much, but he’s not ideal, or the Crisp/Byrd types that are hanging around for little cost.

  • Saggy

    I mean, if the Tribe could get him for $3million, then go ahead. Otherwise, you’re right on, Dan. But both sides are doing what they should be doing: Bautista’s agent should be pushing, and Cleveland should be kicking tires, if only to drive up the price for Toronto. Don’t ever forget that running interference is an excellent strategy.

    In the end, the Tribe would be better served finding all-star caliber defense in CF or a person who has a pulse, two good knees, and a bat at C.

    However, something inside tells me that Bautista might consider a 1-year deal with serious incentives. Say $12million guaranteed, with +$1million for 20HRs, +$2mil at 25, +$5mil at 30, etc. Just playing devil’s advocate…

  • Saggy

    If they could get him on a 1-year deal with major incentives I would be all-in on this. Not sure I’d outlay $40million+ over 2+.

  • Steve

    I wouldn’t want to go more than one plus a team/vesting option either.

    But if Brantley can’t play, and that we are exploring non-cheap corner OF options has me concerned about that, a short term deal for a big bat seems like a worthwhile risk. Who knows how much money is left to spend too.

  • Hopwin

    100% DO NOT WANT at any price. If you want old, crappy production go resign Napoli (for less) who at least can be a fun/nice bench addition.

  • mgbode

    Jim suggested similar yesterday and I agree to a point. I don’t think $20m/year is getting him at a discount other than fewer guaranteed years. I sort of feel that we could do better for the money through trades instead (and I consider signing a QO guy a trade too since we give a pick – in this case, a 2nd).

  • mgbode

    At least the Indians FO didn’t tell Joey Bats they weren’t interested because the fanbase hated him.

    Haha, the Orioles can be the best sometimes.

  • Harv

    Tribe may want him, but the Jays need him, both to stop having their talent walk to a rival without compensation and to take some heat off Shapiro, who’s been getting some wicked criticism up there after EE left. Fine with me if they further weaken themselves by overpaying for a needed PR boost.

  • jpftribe

    You gotta love it.

  • jpftribe

    Saunders just got that kind of deal. Maybe it’s just me but that seems pretty rich.

    https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/821076920435609600

  • Steve

    If there’s a short-term contract for a big bat that won’t cost too much in a trade, I’m in. But with Diaz, Zimmer, and Allen all looking ready to help in a couple years, I don’t want to commit for more than a couple years to get a Brantley-replacement. I also am not keen on giving up much in prospects for just a year or two of a guy.

    This looks pretty moot with Bautista looking like he’ll get two years at $35-40M, but if there’s any budget left, I’d rather stretch it here than anything else.

  • Chris

    20-or-so free baseballs to the outfield seats over 81 home games is much better PR than 15,000 bobbleheads. Spend away, Mark!

  • CBiscuit

    Yeah, ain’t gonna happen. I think this is all “hot stove” BS. He’s staying in Toronto. Cheap as he may be, Shapiro will have to pony up on this one for PR sake. And he’ll have to also painfully accept that he’ll have to eat the cost of 20+ baseballs that will be lost to the stands.

  • CBiscuit

    The truth hurts! Yeah, well like it or not, Joey Delta Bravo has hurt his market value. Likeability is a factor when you’re talking about putting butts in the seats and jerseys on backs.

  • Mark Scanes

    Why not sign Trumbo under the same thinking and move him to Dh/1st. Next year? Rather have him than Jbats?

  • mgbode

    I have a few ideas that I’ll share Thursday 😉

  • Steve

    He costs the draft pick.

  • Mark Scanes

    So does Jbats. Its number 64 overall after signing EE. Same circumstance as Swisher/Bourn but better players.

  • Mark Scanes

    Then move Naquin or Chis and prospects for Mccutchen? Thaughts?

  • Dan Harrington

    I’m a no on that. McCutchen isn’t what he used to be. Not willing to part with a great platoon player in Chiz and a guy like Naquin who has decent potential for a CF on the wrong side of 30 going down hill

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  • mgbode

    It would take so much more than Chis & Naquin to obtain Cutch.

  • Dan Harrington

    Also true. But I don’t think much. Pirates were desperate to move him this winter and couldn’t find anyone

  • mgbode

    I think they wanted to see if they could still get NL MVP type assets back for him despite the risk and found they could not. Much like Puig & Ozuna “trade rumors” before him.

    I do think there’s a better likelihood of Cutch being traded than those two but I don’t think they were as desperate as portrayed.

  • jpftribe

    Thank God Shapiro is in Toronto. This is insane.
    https://twitter.com/JonHeyman/status/821455784248823808

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