ATLANTA — Six-time All-Star Jose Bautista and the Atlanta Braves have agreed to a minor league contract
Under the deal announced Wednesday, Bautista would receive a $1 million, one-year deal if added to the 40-man major league roster. He will report to the Braves extended spring training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, to work himself into game condition while playing third base.
Alex Anthopoulos, who was the general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays during much of Bautista’s tenure there, is now the GM in Atlanta.
The 37-year-old Bautista earned $18 million under a one-year deal with Toronto last season and became a free agent. He went unsigned over the winter after batting .203 with 23 homers and 63 RBIs.
Bautista has hit at least 22 homers the last eight seasons, including a career-best 54 for the Blue Jays in 2010. He has four seasons with at least 100 RBIs, though his production dipped significantly the last two years.
Still, the signing is a low-risk move by the Braves to bolster their lineup, which currently has Ryan Flaherty at third base. Flaherty is off to a surprising start, hitting an NL-leading .354 through 14 games, but his career average is .221.
Bautista was the regular third baseman for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2007 and 2008 before being traded to the Blue Jays in August 2008 for a player to be named later that became catcher Robinzon Diaz. Diaz appeared in only 44 major league games for Toronto and Pittsburgh while Bautista became one of the most fearsome power hitters in baseball for almost a decade.
The Jays play the Braves four times this season: June 19-20 at the Rogers Centre and July 10-11 at Sun Trust Park.
“I like it,” said Jays manager John Gibbons, who was surprised that Bautista didn’t get picked up by a team during spring training. “I’d be happy to see him. I’m sure (the opportunity) will be pretty cool for (Bautista).”
— with files from Rob Longley, Postmedia Network