If you are the Astros, this may be the time to buy some outfield help for the upcoming 2017 season.
When you take a look at the Astros roster, you can’t help but notice the lack of production last season from their outfield. Outside of George Springer, the team received little help from the likes of Carlos Gomez, Colby Rasmus, and Jake Marisnick.
But general manager Jeff Luhnow appears to be prepared to rectify the outfield situation this offseason. That means the Astros are essentially scouring the market for any help in the outfield.
This could potentially lead Houston in to the direction of slugger Jose Bautista.
Per Nick Canard of the Boston Globe, Bautista is on the radar for multiple teams. And the Astros are one of them.
The question is two-fold though. One, will Bautista consider signing with the Astros? And two, does adding Bautista make sense for Houston?
Well, it is possible that the Blue Jays slugger would consider coming to southeast Texas. The Astros are a contending club that could use an outfielder with his offensive capabilities. Of course, money and Bautista’s possible desire to play in other markets could be deterrents.
In regards to the second question, this is one pursuit that doesn’t make much sense for the Astros.
Yes, the team needs proven outfield help. Or more accurately, offensive production. And Bautista has been one of the most feared sluggers in the game since the 2010 season. But there are few factors at play against the 36-year old outfielder.
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For one, the potential contract it would take to sway Bautista to join any team would be sizable. While the market may determine his final asking price, it may be a sticking point in any negotiations.
Then you have to account for the draft pick compensation since the Blue Jays did place a qualifying offer on their face of the franchise. We all know that the Astros don’t like to give up any draft picks.
This now leads us to the actual production that a team can expect. And while the short term could be comparable to past seasons, the long term is a tricky situation.
Let’s take a look at Bautista’s offensive production since the 2014 season.
2014: .286/.403/.524, 35 HR, 103 RBI, 160 wRC+, 6.3 WAR
2015: .250/.377/.536, 40 HR, 103 RBI, 148 wRC+, 4.4 WAR
2016: .234/.366/.452, 22 HR, 69 RBI, 122 wRC+, 1.4 WAR
In 2014-15, he managed to be one of the better hitters in baseball despite a drop in stats between the two years. However, the 2016 season’s production was a clear drop off. To be honest though, this could very well just be a down year for a good hitter who happened to play in only 116 games this past season.
But then there is the possibility of Bautista beginning the decline of his notable career. After all, he is 36-years old and it is definitely within the realm of possibility that his best days are behind him. Or not.
Lastly, the defense. Oh, the defense. A -8 DRS in the right field this past day is not ideal. The Astros wouldn’t have to worry that specifically with Springer in right. That would essentially make Bautista the everyday left fielder, which could help his defensive numbers in Minute Maid Park.
At the end of the day, there is definitely value in Bautista. His short term offensive production could propel the Astros into the thick of the postseason next year. But you have to consider the other factors such as monetary, draft picks, and long term value.
For another opinion, Talking Stros last night discussed the possibility of adding a guy like Bautista. Be sure to check it out!
In my opinion, this pairing between Bautista and the Astros could happen. But don’t be surprised if Houston decides to turn their attention elsewhere rather jump into a bidding war for Bautista’s services.
**Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs**