There was somewhat of a hulabaloo this week at the winter meetings when Baltimore Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette supposedly told Jose Bautista that they wouldn’t make a play on him. Duquette cited the fact that Orioles fans didn’t like him. That seemed to touch a nerve with a lot of people – both fans and experts alike.
First off, what Duquette said isn’t a lie. I’m not sure there’s been a player more loathed in Baltimore for some time than Bautista is. Furthermore, I think he may have been onto something; there might have been a fan revolt had he signed in Baltimore.
But I suspect that was also code for the players/Showalter don’t like you. And again, that wouldn’t be too far from the truth. I suspect that Duquette tried to be as diplomatic as he could, however at the end of the day he had to cite a reason to Bautista and his representatives as to why they didn’t want him.
And fans should consider themselves lucky that he put it the way that he did. If he told Bautista that the clubhouse didn’t want him, that would only serve as bulletin board material going into next year. And as most people know, Bautista wouldn’t be the type to take that lying down. He’d probably make a point of showing up the Orioles the first time he hit a homer. Heck, he might still do it to the fans.
The flip side however is whether or not the O’s are being foolish in at least not considering the option of signing him. I would say no, mainly because he’s aging (36) and he’d come with injury concerns. However that’s not something that a lot of people seem to want to consider.
If you don’t want to hear that argument, consider one other thing. It’s fairly easy for players to put mini-rivalries aside when someone comes in via free agency. With how prevelant free agency is these days, you know there’s always a chance that the guy on whom you’re hating this year might be your teammate next year or down the line.
I suspect it’s tougher for fans to look past those types of things. However Bautista may be a special case. He’s seemingly done things on purpose for some time to antagonzie the Orioles and their fans. When you’ve done as many things as he’s done, it’s probably smart to assume you won’t ever fit on that other team.
The Orioles also selected two outfielders in yesterday’s Rule 5 draft. They took Aneury Tavarez from Boston, and Anthony Santander from Cleveland. Dan Duquette was very happy with the selections, as both players can add depth to the outfield and are decent hitters. They will need to remain on the Orioles’ roster all season long, or they go back to their original club.