The Oakland A’s have been at the forefront of innovation and roster manipulation. With the possibility of rosters being expanded, giving Jose Bautista a chance makes plenty of sense.
Over the years, the Oakland A’s have been able to find that other teams could not. Their analytics based approach changed the way teams entirely view players, with a focus towards getting on base making a difference. Batting average became passe, with teams looking for players that could work counts, take walks, and get into the opponent’s bullpen as quickly as possible.
Two way players have the potential to change the game in the same way. While the initial returns on Shohei Ohtani were promising, he still has just ten major league appearances on the mound. Other two way experiments have not been as promising, with Michael Lorenzen having been the best of the bunch.
But there is another intriguing two way player, one bearing a familiar name. Former Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista is looking to make his way back into the game as a two way player, marketing himself as a reliever and possible pinch hitter/bench option.
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Bautista was last in the majors in 2018, making a tour of the NL East. Between his time with the Braves, Mets, and Phillies, he posted a .203/.348/.378 batting line. Over his 399 plate appearances, he hit 13 homers and 18 doubles. He still showed a respectable batting eye, with 67 walks, striking out 111 times.
Even in what was a rough season, Bautista still showed that he had some pop left in his bat and a solid enough eye at the plate. He also had a cannon of an arm, one that is still intact. His fastball, during the bullpens that he has thrown, has been clocked in the mid to upper 90s. He also has a slider, sinker, and change, all of which are major league offerings according to former teammate Marcus Stroman.
For the A’s, it makes perfect sense to give Bautista a shot. He would likely sign a minor league deal, and could get a look in that relief role once spring training begins again. While he would need to be designed as a pitcher on the roster, he could still be used as a valuable pinch hitter or backup outfielder. Bautista even got a look at third in 2018, adding some more versatility. With the potential of a 29 man roster, Bautista would be an interesting addition.
The Oakland A’s would be a perfect landing spot for Jose Bautista. In doing so, the A’s would once again return to the forefront of roster innovation.