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If Jose Bautista is considering a 1-year deal, where’s his best fit?

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Teams should line up if Jose Bautista will take a one-year deal, and here’s who should want him the most.

League Championship - Toronto Blue Jays v Cleveland Indians - Game One Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

Just a couple weeks ago, we listed the problems that Jose Bautista was encountering in his first free-agent experience. He wanted too much money. He’s 36 years old. Other teams apparently don’t care for him. He’ll cost his new team their first-round pick. He can’t field so well these days. When you put it like that, he sounds like the worst idea of the offseason, which he probably isn’t.

Still, all of the red flags have been stitched together to form a single, gigantic red flag, and it seems clear that he won’t get the $80 million contract he might have been dreaming of. The market is so soft that Bautista is reportedly considering a one-year deal.

When you put it like that, Bautista sounds like the best idea of the offseason. Which he just might be on a one-year deal. All of those problems up there? Almost every single one of them is something a contending team can overlook for a one-year contract. They’re problems a team should overlook for a one-year contract. This means it’s our job to find the best contending team for Joey Bats.

Orioles

Current corner outfielders
Hyun-soo Kim and maybe Christian Walker in left, Joey Rickard in right.

Need for offense
The Orioles aren’t a balanced team, so they’ll need to outslug the world if they want to contend again. With Mark Trumbo possibly gone, they’ll have a hole in the middle of the order, with Rickard and Trey Mancini in right field and DH, respectively. Rickard offers OBP potential with limited power, and Mancini posted a .775 OPS in Triple-A last year as a 24-year-old, which doesn’t bode well for 2017 success.

On a three- or four-year deal, especially when they have to worry about locking Manny Machado up? Nah. On a one-year deal? Oh, heck yes. But you’ll get to say that about almost every team on this list.

A good place for Bautista to build up his value?

Don’t forget that Bautista’s goal is to have a stellar year and hit the market again, so he probably doesn’t want to play in the Astrodome. Because there’s no baseball there, stupid. But also because a pitcher’s park would cost him money.

So, yes, Baltimore would be just about the perfect place for a right-handed slugger to rebuild his value.

Likelihood of happening?

If you believe Dan Duquette? Low. If you believe that sports fans care about winning first, aesthetics second, this is the best fit.

Yankees

Current corner outfielders
Brett Gardner in left, Aaron Judge in right, with Matt Holliday as the DH.

Need for offense
I’m just going to guess that Gary Sanchez won’t hit 50 homers or so, which means the lineup could use a little help. It’s plausible that the help could come internally, with development from Greg Bird and Judge, as well as a full season from Sanchez, but another slugger would take some of the pressure off.

A good place for Bautista?
Other than Coors or Camden, it might be one of the best. It was the finest place in the world for home run hitters last season, though left-handers benefit just a little more.

Likelihood of happening?
Decent? The Yankees seem to be focused more on pitching, but a one-year deal would appeal to them, adding power without sacrificing the long-term sustainability they’re trying to build.

Blue Jays

Current corner outfielders
Steve Pearce in left and Ezequiel Carrera in a right field platoon with Melvin Upton, Jr.?

Need for offense
The kind of need that you would expect from a team using Steve Pearce in left and Ezequiel Carrera in a right field platoon with Melvin Upton. And don’t forget Justin Smoak at first. Oh, and Kendrys Morales replacing Edwin Encarnacion.

They should probably get some more hitters, everybody.

A good place for Bautista?

Division Series - Texas Rangers v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Likelihood of happening?
Still the best guess. The Blue Jays would lose the compensatory pick they’d gain from Bautista signing elsewhere, so it’s almost like they’re giving up a draft pick, but they have the need, the money, the hole, and the sentimental attachment.

Indians

Current corner outfielders
Michael Brantley in left, hopefully, and a combination of Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer in right.

Need for offense
Not as great as it could have been without Edwin Encarnacion, but Chisenhall’s career OPS+ is 97, and it was 96 last year, so he probably would have more value as a super-utility player than a starting outfielder on a team with superlative pitching.

A good place for Bautista?
If Progressive Field plays like it did last year, heck yes. The ball was flying out of there in 2016.

Likelihood of happening?
Very, very, very low. The Indians likely spent their remaining money on Bautista’s tag-team partner. It’s a fun dream, though, and a one-year deal doesn’t make it an impossible one.

Astros

Current corner outfielders
Josh Reddick in left, with Norichika Aoki and Teoscar Hernandez in right.

Need for offense
And now I’m realizing this is a silly category, because the Astros should score quite a few runs next year ... but maybe they would like to score more? Every team has a need for more offense.

A good place for Bautista?
Yes. He would enjoy the Crawford boxes a great deal, I’m thinking.

Likelihood of happening?
Fair? Better than fair? The Astros enjoy their first-round picks, just like every team, but the temptation of building a Death Lineup of Imminent Doom has to be there. Where would Bautista hit? Behind Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Alex Bregman, or in front of them? Maybe just after Jose Altuve? Oh, the possibilities.

Rays

Current corner outfielders
Corey Dickerson and Mikie Mahtook in left, with Steven Souza in right.

Need for offense
Assuming their rotation overcomes their dingeritis, they could be more competitive than expected, and it would help if they were prepared offensively. Dickerson didn’t bring all of his power from Colorado, and Souza isn’t making anyone forget about Trea Turner any time soon.

A good place for Bautista?
Nope. Tropicana Field is a lousy place for a slugger looking to boost his value on a one-year deal.

Likelihood of happening?
Not great. The finances are always a struggle with the Rays, even if they think they’re getting a substantial discount. And while their first-round pick is protected, that doesn’t mean they’re keen on losing a high-second rounder, either.

Rangers

Current corner outfielders
Nomar Mazara in left and Shin-Soo Choo in right.

Need for offense
They probably have to assume Choo will miss a bunch of time, and that even when he’s healthy, he’s likely to be inconsistent. There’s a need, alright.

A good place for Bautista?
In terms of ballpark? Sure.

Likelihood of happening?

(It’s still something a fan base would get over in exactly 1.3 home runs.)

Cardinals

Current corner outfielders
Randal Grichuk in left and Stephen Piscotty in right.

Need for offense
Those two had 46 homers between them last year, so it’s not an acute need. And if you pay $20 million for a year’s worth of Bautista’s extra OBP and half-dozen homers over Grichuk, just know that it comes at the cost of a massive defensive downgrade.

A good place for Bautista?
It’s not a bad place to hit, but he could sure build his value a lot more in New York or Baltimore.

Likelihood of happening?
Low, but just likely enough to merit a mention.

Giants

Current corner outfielders
Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson in left, with Hunter Pence in right.

Need for offense
High. The Giants haven’t had a 30-homer hitter since Barry Bonds retired, and in a wild season of dingers around baseball, the Giants didn’t even have a 20-homer hitter. A lot of that has to do with the ballpark, but still. This is a team that should pitch just fine, but they’ll need to hit a lot more to keep up with the Dodgers.

A good place for Bautista?
Ha ha ha, no. Not only is it a stifling ballpark for home runs, but it’s a large outfield with windy conditions, and Bautista would be flanked by the decent-not-great defense of Denard Span. The potential for embarrassing highlights or defensive stats would be high.

Likelihood of happening?

The Giants should be interested, but they’re also a) protective of their first-round pick after losing it last year, and b) already over the salary-cap tax, which means $20 million to Bautista for a year would cost them $28 million. Considering they’re already at their payroll limit, it’s very unlikely.

Conclusion

Let’s power rank these suckers:

  1. Blue Jays
  2. Orioles
  3. Astros
  4. Yankees
  5. Rangers
  6. Cardinals
  7. Giants
  8. Rays
  9. Phillies
  10. Indians

Oh, also in my fever dreams, the Phillies sign Bautista and win 88 games behind their rotation. Unless they lose 88 and trade him at the deadline for more prospects. Either way, they’re probably not worth their own capsule, but they still make a little sense.

Bautista is likely to bird the place up again next year, and he’s likeliest to do it in Toronto. That much hasn’t changed. His apparent willingness to consider a short-term deal, though, means that more and more teams think of him as a realistic possibility.