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Don’t worry, Orioles fans: Jose Bautista is returning to Toronto

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Dan Duquette cracked open the door to the Orioles looking at Jose Bautista last week, but it’s OK. He’s returning to Toronto.

ALCS - Cleveland Indians v Toronto Blue Jays - Game Five
By picking this photo, I’m sparing you having to look at Jose Bautista’s face.
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

There is good news and bad news for Orioles fans about Jose Bautista. The bad news is that we will have to continue looking at his face periodically. The good news is that he won’t be wearing an O’s uniform when we are looking at him. Bautista is headed back to Toronto on a two-year contract.

Not that the idea of Bautista possibly coming to Baltimore was ever a very likely one. That’s not because of Dan Duquette’s pronouncement earlier in the offseason that he wouldn’t sign Bautista because fans don’t like him, though. After all, Duquette walked back the comments about a week ago. It was never about the fans and probably always about the money.

With Bautista signing with the Blue Jays for a reported $37 million guaranteed, the kind of scenario that might have led to him ending up in Baltimore doesn’t seem like it was ever very likely. I could have imagined a scenario where he stayed unsigned headed into spring training and had to settle for a contract for just one year.

That’s the kind of thing the Orioles might have pounced on. If they’re going to get that, it won’t be with Bautista. Recent Orioles slugger Mark Trumbo could still end up falling into this category before all is said and done with the offseason. The effect of this signing on Trumbo might be more interesting for the O’s and O’s fans.

Bautista and his former teammate Edwin Encarnacion have set $20 million as an upper limit for the aspirations of a slugger like Trumbo. Although Bautista is a lot older than Trumbo, and doesn’t have the 2016 performance backing up his demands, he has more of a career track record working in his favor.

It was definitely a down year for Bautista in 2016. His .234/.366/.452 batting line, though it comes with a low batting average, is still plenty respectable. Look at that OBP! Even in a definite down year, Bautista would have led the O’s in OBP.

The hope of a rebound based on past performance is what gets Bautista fewer years and a higher AAV. On the other hand, for Trumbo, teams are probably concerned, and fairly so, that 2016 was as good as it gets for Trumbo and he’s not very likely to reach that level of performance again.

Another former Blue Jays outfielder who might have drawn some interest from the Orioles is off the market on Monday as well. The Phillies have reached an agreement with Michael Saunders. The O’s were interested in Saunders earlier in the offseason, though I figure that was scratched off for good after they traded for Seth Smith, another lefty-batting outfielder.

The start of spring training is now less than a month away. The Orioles will have a chance to get one of their late-offseason bargains before all is said and done, but that bargain won’t be Bautista. Something tells me that not too many people in Birdland will be torn up about that.