Bautista and the Blue Jays came to terms on a one-year, $18 million contract with a mutual option for 2018 and a vesting option for 2019. If all incentives and options are reached and vest, the total guarantee for the contract is expected to be $60 million.
This deal wraps up what has been a long offseason for Bautista, whose market never truly picked up. A reunion with Toronto makes sense for both sides, especially with fellow slugger Edwin Encarnacion leaving for Cleveland a month prior.
The 36-year-old Bautista had a down season in 2016, ending his streak of six straight All-Star appearances.
He was still decently productive over his 517 plate appearances, slashing .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBIs. Per FanGraphs, he was worth 1.4 fWAR.
It certainly was not the same type of production the Blue Jays received from him during a stretch spanning six seasons from 2010 to 2015. He posted a .945 OPS and averaged 38 home runs a year during that time and was worth a total of 32.4 fWAR, or over five per season.
Of course Bautista would have wanted his contract season to be as productive as he had normally been. Regardless, he can still hit the market again next winter, but it seems almost impossible that he'll be able to receive a long-term deal.
Perhaps Bautista's poor year was due to a lower home run per fly ball rate, dipping down to close to 16 percent in 2016. It had previously been around 18 percent in previous season. Two promising statistics for a Bautista rebound were his hard hit and line drive rates, both still above his career average.
For the Blue Jays, getting this deal done was important because losing both Encarnacion and Bautista would have been tough to recover from. The team did add Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce to soften the blow, but those two players were the heart of the lineup over the past five seasons or so.
Toronto will be able to slide Bautista back into right field, where he is projected to play alongside Kevin Pillar in center and Ezequiel Carrera in left.
Bautista was a 20th round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2000 MLB Draft and was traded to the Blue Jays in 2008 for a player to be named later (Robinzon Diaz).
Baseball Prospectus Toronto was the first to report the agreement, with Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports adding contract details.