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This has been a busy offseason for the Red Sox front office, but things could have gone somewhat differently. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Red Sox had discussions with the Toronto Blue Jays about acquiring slugger Jose Bautista before signing Carl Crawford.
Bautista, coming off a season where he led the American League in home runs (54), would have added some power to the Red Sox lineup. Of course, after the Blue Jays rejected their proposals, Boston went on to sign the speedy former Tampa Bay Ray on the free agent market.
Before being acquired by the Blue Jays in 2008, Bautista spent time with the Orioles, Devil Rays, Royals and Pirates. His career was unremarkable. His best season prior to the trade saw him compile a .254/.339/.414/.753 line with 15 home runs in 2007. All of that would change after the trade. While the balance of his Bautista’s 2008 was unremarkable, 2009 was in line with his better performances (.235/.349/.408/.757) and 2010 saw the breakout. This past season, in addition to 54 long balls (just 20 shy of his career total before 2010), Bautista got on base at a .378 clip, a career best thanks to 100 walks.
While we do not know what the Red Sox offered, given Bautista’s breakout, Toronto should be looking for a sizeable package of players and prospects. Amazingly, the Blue Jays acquired Bautista for a player to be named later and at the time of the trade, some in Canada called his addition to the offense “overkill.” Unfortunately, we may never know exactly was on the table, but given their recent move of Vernon Wells to the Angels, the Jays front office is not to be taken for an inexperienced bunch. At the same time, Carl Crawford is a know quantity, and even Jayson Werth, Boston’s other target, while sharing a late breakout in common with Bautista, kept up that performance for a few years before cashing in with the Nationals.
If he repeats 2010, Bautista will be a valuable player on any team. Fifty home run power is hard to come by these days, especially from someone who can play third base. Thankfully, with Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford added to the core of Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis, the Red Sox are unlikely to regret how the winter worked itself out.