Former Pirates utilityman Jose Bautista has struck it rich with the Toronto Blue Jays, the AP reports, after surprisingly leading the major leagues in homers last year. He'll get five years and $65 million. If you had told me a year ago that this was going to happen, I would have said you were nuts.â†µ
Bautista's seventh major league season ranks as one of the biggest breakouts in baseball history. He nearly matched his career home run total of 59 coming into the season, drove in 124 runs and scored 109 with a .260 average. He had never hit more than 16 homers nor driven in more than 63 runs in a season.â†µ
Bautista was useful with the Pirates because he was versatile, but he was never good defensively and not nearly good enough offensively to be anything more than a fringe starter. Then the Pirates, wary of overpaying for a bench player in arbitration and in possession of a third base option they liked better in Andy LaRoche, traded Bautista for catcher Robinzon Diaz, who's now out of the organization. After about a year of more of the same in Toronto, he adjusted his swing and, lo and behold, the homers started coming. It's been a strange career for Bautista, and who knows which way it will go from here - this deal could easily be a bargain for the Jays, or a complete bust.