Report: Bautista interested in playing for Rays

In November, a mere two weeks after the Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series, free-agent slugger Jose Bautista was drawing interest from the Tampa Bay Rays. Three months later, the feeling may be mutual.

The former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder is said to be in great shape, focused, and keenly interested in playing for the Rays, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

After trading Corey Dickerson and signing Carlos Gomez, the Rays don't appear to have a need for an outfielder. Gomez, Kevin Kiermaier, Mallex Smith, and Denard Span are all projected to be on the big-league club, but Bautista could also offer the Rays value off the bench as a corner infielder, too.

Bautista, a longtime Tampa resident, likely wouldn't command a salary similar to the $18 million he earned in 2017 with Toronto - and with good reason.

In 2017, the 37-year-old posted a .674 OPS - his lowest since 2005 - and hit just .203 while striking out 170 times in 157 games. His defense was also a concern, as Fangraphs' defensive runs saved metric scored him as a minus-8 in the outfield - one of the lowest marks of his career.

On the plus side, however, is the fact that Bautista can still hit the long ball. His 23 homers was fourth on the Blue Jays in 2017. He's swatted 331 in his career, including 54 in 2010.

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