On Monday the Philadelphia Phillies claimed Jose Bautista on waivers. On Tuesday they made a trade with the New York Mets to officially add him. The Phillies will be Bautista’s third team this season, and all of those have been within the NL East. Playing for three teams in the same division in one year is rare. In fact it, according to the Elias Sports Bureau it has only happened three times in history. After spending 10 years with the Toronto Blue Jays, three teams in one year must be weird.
Bautista is not exactly the hitter he once was hitting just .196/.339/.364. In addition, the power drop we have seen the last two years has continued, with Bautista having just 11 home runs in 342 plate appearances. So what exactly is it that the Phillies see in Bautista? Why would they feel the need to add him right now?
Adding Bautista now makes a lot of sense in terms of the timing. In four days time, the rosters expand to allow teams to carry 40 players instead of just 25. That means they that can now add a player who has logged time at three positions this season, with limited effect on their other hitters. The Phillies have yet to announce a corresponding move as it relates to the 25-man roster. However, whoever makes room will be back on the roster before long.
The corresponding 40-man roster move has already been made with Mark Leiter Jr. being designated for assignment. Leiter is not a pitcher with a particularly high amount of value for the Phillies, with a 5.40 ERA in 16 2/3 innings. In addition, in 107 1/3 career major league innings, Leiter has a 5.03 ERA.
What does Bautista Bring to Philadelphia?
As discussed above Bautista’s numbers do not really make him a hitter to desire. However, there are some things Bautista does bring to the table for the Phillies. I also mentioned above his positional flexibility, well Bautista has logged time at first base, third base and in the outfield this season. That has value. Justin Bour has just hit the disabled list and the Phillies have a relatively young outfield. In addition, while Maikel Franco is having a bounce-back year, he is still prone to cold streaks, and Bautista gives them a fallback option there.
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However, Bautista’s biggest asset is his experience, especially his experience in the run-up to and in the postseason, having been twice, in 2015 and 2016. The Phillies are currently 3.5 games back on the Atlanta Braves and need all the veteran leadership they can get. If Bautista does get them there then what does he bring?
His Postseason Numbers
Bautista has been part of five postseason series, including one Wildcard game. Over the course of 20 games, his line read .243/.364/.541 with six home runs in 88 plate appearances. Those are really impressive numbers and there have been some clutch moments. The one that comes to mind is the crazy game against the Texas Rangers in Toronto in 2015.
However, right now the odds are that the Phillies will have to come through a Wildcard game. If they do then someone who has been in that situation will be key. Having someone who has gone 1-for-3 with a home run in that do-or-die situation could make a big difference. That is why the Phillies made this move. They are preparing for the tough games and moments that may come in the playoffs. When they do, then no matter how his numbers have dropped off, Bautista will be ready to answer the call.