The ridiculous Astros’ offseason rumors should be over, right?
Well, there were apparently reports from Mexico per MLB Trade Rumors that made it appear Houston was indeed signing the free-agent slugger. Here is one such tweet from an individual named Karla Irene Espinoza.
I’ll admit that I am not too familiar with Ms. Espinoza or her background, but she is followed by various respectable baseball writers. For example, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Still, it was odd to see the rumor that the Astros were signing Bautista, who has not been connected to Houston at all (to my knowledge) throughout the offseason or spring training.
Thankfully, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com shortly cleared up any confusion with one single tweet.
In any case, Jose Bautista to the Astros in this offseason never made much sense.
For example, Bautista’s production decline as a hitter is quite apparent. In 686 plate appearances for the Blue Jays, Bautista finished with a 80 wRC+ with a .164 ISO. Out of all hitters with at least 650 plate appearances last season, Bautista finished with the second-lowest wRC+. Only Rougned Odor of the Rangers with 61 wRC+ finished lower than Bautista under the same criteria.
There also wouldn’t be a place to field Bautista. Sure, he could be a full-time DH, but the team already has Evan Gattis and company to fill this role. Using Bautista in the outfield doesn’t make much sense either since his defense is rated poorly by the eye test and the metrics.
As we all know, the Astros are brimming with talent. The team doesn’t have use for an age-37 hitter who posted a -0.5 fWAR in 2017. Sure, Bautista could bounce back. He did post a 1.4 fWAR in 2016. His comeback would be a great story in 2018. But even if a comeback is possible, it shouldn’t be with the Astros.
**Statistics and information courtesy of FanGraphs**