The Cleveland Indians were an entrant in the Jose Bautista sweepstakes, but his presence in Cleveland may have been met with mixed reactions.
After too many years of mediocrity, the Cleveland Indians are one of the top teams in all of baseball. And after years of saving money, the Indians have become big spenders.
After committing $20 million in 2017 to Edwin Encarnacion, the Indians were rumored to be in talks with his former Blue Jays teammate, Jose Bautista. Bautista now seems to be headed back to Toronto, but his potential union with the Indians did raise some interesting questions.
The main question surrounded how Indians fans would welcome a player who did his best to garner hate from Indians fans during the 2016 ALCS. His talk of “circumstances” and Indians players “shaking in their boots” served as rallying points for the hometown team, who dispatched their Canadian foes in five games to advance to the World Series.
Bautista joining the Indians in 2017 would likely have been met with some opposition by fans who were annoyed by his words last year.
But more importantly than that, fans may not have welcomed him if he received an annual contract over $10 million, which is all but likely for a player with his career numbers.
Bautista missed the All-Star Game in 2016 after six straight seasons, ultimately finishing the year with a .234 batting average and only 22 home runs. The 36-year-old may still have some great years left, but a team like the Indians, who are already approaching record payroll numbers, could not afford to overpay a player who could potentially be on the decline.
But no matter what his numbers were last year, there is still the contingent of fans who would have welcomed him to town as he would, on paper, be an upgrade in right field for a team desperately looking to return to the World Series in 2017. Winning it all is the ultimate goal, and Bautista could be of great help, although it may come at a steep price.
Fans don’t have to worry about this situation as Bautista is ready to head back to the Blue Jays, but it is an interesting scenario to consider. With the Indians shifting from a seller to a buyer, more situations like this one may arise in future offseasons. It will be up to the front office to make smart decisions, and not overpay for a player just based on name recognition alone.