By Cole Parkinson
It appears that the Jose Bautista era is over in Toronto.
After an abysmal season for both Jose and the Blue Jays, I don’t think anyone other than Bautista would have been happy if the team picked up his $17 million dollar option for the 2018 season.
Naturally the management team for the Jays declined the option and really, after his worst season as a Blue Jay, there wasn’t any doubt.
While they could just as easy sign a new contract within the next couple of days, I don’t see it happening.
Jose is going to be 37 on Oct. 19 and after only hitting .203 this season, the Jays have better options internally that are younger and have lots more potential moving forward.
Teoscar Hernandez had quite the September call up this year and I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get a good look next year in one of the corner outfield positions.
Another option I think the Jays can look to internally is Anthony Alford.
Alford was called up this season but only played in limited games due to a broken wrist. He is one of the top ranked rookies in the Jays system and I think he has some potential to play some MLB games next year.
The season just ended on Sunday so there’s not much point in predicting the lineup for next season just yet, especially when one of the best Blue Jays players in history is poised to move on to another team for the 2018 season.
Obviously this season is fresh in the minds of Blue Jays fans but by the time Bautista returns to see his name on the level of excellence in the Rogers Centre, no one will be thinking back to the time he hit .203 and struck out 170 times.
Jose Bautista will be remembered for the back to back home run titles in 2010 and 2011 where he hit 54 and 43 dingers respectively. Bautista really grew into the face of the franchise in those two seasons.
When Bautista started to emerge in that 2010 season, it was hard to believe that he was a Blue Jay and that we got him in a deal where he was considered to be a career minor leaguer.
He will be remembered for his countless battles with the Baltimore Orioles, especially the heated confrontations with O’s reliever Darren O’Day.
I’ve lost count of how many times Bautista and the Orioles players have had words throughout the last few seasons.
And I think most people, fan of the Blue Jays or not, will remember Bautista for the three run good ahead shot in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the American League Division Series against the Texas Rangers in 2015.
Of course you can’t even begin to talk about that home run until you mention the monstrous bat flip that followed said home run.
Now there are plenty of people who hated the celebration and plenty who liked it, consider me on the side that liked it.
If Bautista flipped the bat like that against the Rangers in game 103 of the regular season I would be in the opposite camp but that home run put the Jays up in the elimination game of the ALDS and I think it is probably the second biggest home run ever hit for the Jays.
I think you know which one is number one.
The Joey Bats home run was part of easily the most strange but satisfying inning of baseball I’ve ever seen and may ever see again in my lifetime.
Rogers Centre patrons were angry and understandably nervous after the Rangers got the go ahead run after one of the weirdest sequences I’ve seen on a baseball field.
Russell Martin throws the ball off of Shin-Soo Choo, who was in the batters box, which led to Texas scoring the go ahead run.
The bottom of the seventh was just as strange after Texas rattled off error after error after error to allow the Blue Jays right back in.
Donaldson tied the game up with an RBI single, Joey Bats walked to the plate with two men on, and the rest is history.
As I re-live this moment it’s weird to think that this happened two years ago because it truly does feel like it just happened.
I’ve been a Blue Jays fan my entire life and I usually watch 140 plus games a year and I’ve never felt so energized by a home run.
As soon as I heard the crack of the bat I knew the ball was gone.
I think the only way that it could have been better was if it was in the bottom of the ninth for a walk off home run but you can’t have everything.
I think it’s safe to say that Bautista will be remembered as one of the best Blue Jays players of all time, especially since he came in at a time where there wasn’t much to cheer about. I know he may not be universally loved in the baseball world or even in the Blue Jays fan base but I think it’s hard to argue that he has had a significant impact on baseball. Joey Bats is a Blue Jays legend and whatever team he decides to join next year, (unless he retires but it sure doesn’t sound like he will) I will be cheering for him.
But it sure will be weird seeing Jose Bautista in any other uniform than a Blue Jays.