There are many reasons why certain organizations pursue – or don’t pursue – various players in free agency. The Baltimore Orioles, one would think, would love to sign Jose Bautista, whose 249 home runs since 2010 lead the majors.
Well, think again. The Orioles don’t want any part of the 36-year-old slugger – reportedly because the Baltimore fan base doesn’t like him.
Should we buy that?
“I do,” USA Today MLB columnist Bob Nightengale said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Usually people won’t say that publicly like (Dan) Duquette did with the Orioles, but I really do. (Bautista has) got a lot of enemies. He’s got a lot of enemies on teams throughout baseball. I think it’s more team-oriented than anything else.”
Bautista, who made his major league debut with the Orioles in 2004, has sparred with Darren O’Day and Adam Jones in recent years and is booed every time he comes to Baltimore.
Bautista to Baltimore makes about as much sense as Bautista to Texas.
“He can’t go to Texas after the fight with (Rougned) Odor a few months ago,” Nightengale said. “He’s made a lot of enemies around baseball. Baltimore just came out and made it public.”
Still, various players in various sports have gone from disliked to liked – or hated to beloved – simply because of a change in uniform. Sometimes, though, past transgressions cannot be overlooked.
“That’s more individual,” Nightengale said. “Obviously you can be the enemy but if you start hitting home runs right away and become a stud, all of a sudden you’re beloved. It’s almost like all these teams start booing Ryan Braun and some of these guys (who are) involved with PEDs, but if he’s on your team, all of a sudden he’s a hero – just like Bonds was in San Francisco. So I understand it.”
Of course, it’s conceivable that Duquette wants Bautista’s production but doesn’t want to pay him for it. Last year, Bautista reportedly asked the Blue Jays for an extension in excess of $100 million. That’s a lot of money for any player, especially one in the twilight of his career.
Still, Nightengale believes Duquette is telling the truth in terms of player and fan dislike being the primary deal-breaker.
“I think that is the case. They can actually sell it,” Nightengale said. “But it’s a nice excuse, too.”