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The Blue Jays aren’t ‘anxious’ to bring Jose Bautista back

Friday’s Say Hey, Baseball includes the latest on Jose Bautista’s market, Brandon Phillips blocking another trade, and poor Royals’ drafts.

American League Championship Series - Cleveland Indians v. Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five Getty

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The first week of January is nearly over, and we’re no closer to knowing where free agent Jose Bautista is going to end up signing than we were when the offseason began. As a quick recap of his free agency so far: Bautista expected big money and years, so he didn’t sign an extension with the Blue Jays, then he had a down 2016 thanks to injuries. He received the qualifying offer, turned it down, and hasn’t had much of a market to speak of since between his age, his 2016, and the compensation the qualifier requires be given up in order to sign him.

Even the Jays, though, aren’t thrilled about the idea of getting him back and might rather have the compensation, as Jon Heyman reports Toronto isn’t "anxious" to have Bautista back, with the "one chance" of his returning to the Jays coming if he has no deal elsewhere — as in if the Jays aren’t going to get the compensation pick they’d prefer, anyway. That’s quite the turn for Bautista, who is just one season removed from a .250/.377/.536 summer with 40 homers and a 145 OPS+. Toronto rushed out to sign Kendrys Morales, though, misreading the market for power bats in the process, and set themselves up in a situation where Bautista isn’t as easy a fit as he should be — even though he’s willing to take a one-year deal to prove 2016 was a fluke.

It’s hard to imagine Bautista won’t find somewhere to sign. Even his down 2016 was a productive campaign, it just wasn’t Bautista-like. Someone will inevitably be injured in spring training and desperate enough to take a chance on Joey Bats, and that’s if it even takes that long for a team to realize that, hey, maybe they can use this guy and his potential after all. You’ve got 10 teams with protected first-round picks that could sacrifice their second-round selection by signing Bautista, or teams that have already given up their first to sign another free agent that could do the same. As we’ve been doing, though, we just might have to wait for someone to decide he’s worth it.