In an era where age declines have been softer, Jose Bautista appears to be the exception as he's had two straight seasons significantly worse than the previous as evidenced by his three-year OPS trend: .913, .818, .674. Injuries may have been a factor in 2016, but last season, Bautista played in 157 games, setting a career high with 686 plate appearances. Strikeouts and diminished power are the two biggest reasons for the downward trend. His ISOs the last three years: .285, .217, .164. The slip in performance is alarming, especially considering Bautista played half his games in the Rogers Centre, one of the best venues for hitters. Bautista continues to hit an above-average number of flyballs, but in 2017, he checked in with a below-average 11.9 percent HR/FB mark. Flyballs not caught depress BABIP, hence average. While it's possible Bautista's power rebounds even as he leaves Toronto, he's going to be an average sink with low contact and a low BABIP.
Bautista is considering retirement, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag Sports reports. Bautista has a couple of offers of around $1 million, but is seeking a larger offer in order to continue his career. At age 37, it's possible that Bautista may call it a career after a disappointing 2017 season where he hit just .203 with a .674 OPS. Still, this could be a negotiating ploy. Either way, fantasy owners should beware that at this point he may miss the start of the regular season if he doesn't sign soon and may not play this season if his free agency lingers much longer.
General manager Ross Atkins said the Blue Jays informed Bautista that they won't pick up his mutual option for 2018, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. Atkins didn't rule out Bautista returning to the Blue Jays on a new contract, but he called the scenario unlikely. This doesn't come as too much of a surprise given his unremarkable .203/.308/.366 line and his 24.7 percent strikeout rate in 157 games this season. He'll look to catch on elsewhere, though his expectations for next season should be kept in check given his noticeable decline over the previous two seasons.
Bautista was ejected from Monday's game in Boston after arguing a called third strike during the eighth inning. Bautista finished the night 1-for-4 with two strikeouts, dropping his average to .204. Ezequiel Carrera took over in right field following the ejection.
Bautista is out of Monday's lineup against Baltimore, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca reports. In the midst of a disappointing season, Bautista has had some success at the plate recently. Since the start of September, he's hit .313/.389/.594 and slugged two home runs over 32 at-bats. He'll head to the bench Monday as Teoscar Hernandez gets the nod in right field.
Bautista is out of Wednesday's lineup against the Red Sox. After getting seven at-bats in Tuesday's 19-inning loss in Boston, the veteran will take a seat. Ezequiel Carrera will start in right field and lead off against righty Doug Fister.