Braves Jose Bautista: Is he worth the investment?

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Jose Bautista
TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 24: Jose Bautista /

The Braves signed veteran Jose Bautista to supposedly play third base? Is he even worth mentioning for fantasy baseball?

The Atlanta Braves are sitting at 10-7, tied with the Philadelphia Phillies for second place in the National League East. With young stars like Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Preston Tucker and Ender Inciarte more than holding their own and slugger Freddie Freeman doing what he does best, the team is off to a good start.

Yet, the front office felt like they needed more and went out to sign Jose Bautista.

Bautista is best known for his time as the Toronto Blue Jays outfielder. But that’s not what the Braves will be using him for. With the aforementioned Tucker and Inciarte and veteran Nick Markakis playing well, and top prospect Ronald Acuna waiting in the minors, they have no room for Bautista as an outfielder. Instead, he will be playing third base.

Bautista last played third base last season but just for eight games. The last time he spent significant time in the hot corner was back in 2011, 25 games. He played 48 games the prior season.

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Despite the playing time, he doesn’t have the best track record. In 394 total games at third base, Bautista has committed 43 errors, a .959 fielding percentage. This is a big risk for the Braves to take, even if it doesn’t cost them much in payroll.

The Braves already have a decent third baseman in Ryan Flaherty. In 15 games, he’s hitting .365 with a home run, seven RBIs, two steals and eight runs scored. He may not be the power hitter Bautista is known to be but, frankly, neither is Bautista.

He hit 22 and 23 home runs in each of his last two seasons. But they were paired with a .203 and .234 batting average, respectively. The last time he hit 30-plus home runs, 100-plus RBIs and over .280 was back in 2014. He his far from the bat-flipping crusher we’re used to.

While not having the same batting profile is one thing, he’s now moving to a position he hasn’t played regularly in close to seven years. That will have an effect on the mental aspect of his game.

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Unless the Bautista of old shows up in these spring training games and he’s decent at third base, I would leave him on the waiver wire. There are enough corner-infield replacements available on the waiver wire. Even if he is good, there will still be a platoon, cutting into his playing time.